Duplication 3

Xing Danwen (Chinese, b. 1967)
Color photograph
Sheet/image : 37 x 30 in. (93.98 x 76.2 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
Object Number

Plastic is a generic term for synthetic polymers composed of long molecular chains that do not otherwise exist in nature. The first fully synthetic plastic was invented by Leo Baekeland in 1907. That first plastic—known as Bakelite—won immediate acclaim for its low cost, durability and multifunctionality. Subsequent inventors created many additional types of plastic and the material became an increasingly common part of modern culture around the world during the second half of the 20th century. Although plastics offer some practical and commercial advantages over other materials, their strong molecular compositions also mean that plastics do not easily break down and can endure in the environment for hundreds or even thousands of years. Plastic pollution poses an especially grave danger to the world’s rivers, lakes and oceans and is impacting natural ecosystems in ways we do not fully understand. Yet, as long as there is demand for cheap consumer goods, the plastic problem will not be easily solved. This photograph of mass-produced plastic doll arms from a factory in China is a disturbing reminder of how much plastic we unthinkingly use and discard in our everyday lives.    

Object Type