January 18 – February 3

The Anderson is pleased to present OBSOLESCENE, an installation from VCUarts Crafts & Materials 2018 BFA alumni Erin Cross.

“And of course she had studied the civilization that had immediately preceded her own — the civilization that had mistaken the functions of the system, and had used it for bringing people to things, instead of for bringing things to people… She shrank back into the room, and the wall closed up again.” – E.M. Forster, The Machine Stops, November 1909

What does it mean to plan your own obsolescence?

OBSOLESCENE: the epoch of planned obsolescence. Obsolescence: the process of becoming outdated and no longer used. The suffix “-cene” refers to geologic time,  a combining form meaning “new,” “recent,” used as the final element of a compound word, as in pleistocene. 

I see synthetic material as a portrait of our severance from nature. Humans have become an invasive species, bringing with us “disposable,” eternal materials we refuse to halt making in the name of comfort and convenience. I implicate myself in this work by using only waste generated by my own life and lifestyle. 

As antitheses of organic matter, the materials I use can only exist because humans engineered them. Will we create simulations of the natural experiences of days past, using artificial means? 

To protect ourselves with synthetic shelter, we sacrifice our environment. We exchange biodiversity and health in favor of technicolor, built environments. I create my plastic sculptures quickly and without structured parts or plans, mimicking the systems which have allowed this material has come to be ubiquitous. The material is valuable to me for the same reasons it is valuable to capitalism- light, shippable, shrinkable. Commandable.  

This installation engages a soundscape made in collaboration with Richmond musicians Digital Hell. The soundscape consists of recordings of styrofoam and other synthetic materials, and a wave noise machine. It is an imagining of a post-human future in which only the most adapted animals survive- bugs and birds that have absorbed our waste and microwaste, and “adapted” to a hotter Earth.


Erin Cross is a non-binary artist & curator concerned with our ecological and societal futures. They engage with mediums including plastics, glass, video, ephemera, and the body. They are a current MFA candidate at Sierra Nevada University’s Interdisciplinary Art program.

Earning a BFA in Craft and Material Studies with emphases in glass, metal, and fiber, and having had the opportunity to assist several esteemed artists, they graduated Cum Laude from VCUarts in Richmond, VA in 2018. They have been a recipient of the Starland Portfolio Scholarship 2020-2022, the Engard Art Award 2014, The Frances Leigh Williams Journalism Award 2014,  and the Dean’s List distinction at VCUarts 2015-2018.

Their work has shown at Sierra Nevada University in Incline Village, NV, State and Lemp in Boise, ID, The National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, PA, Slover Library in Norfolk, VA, and in Richmond, VA at The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Anderson Gallery, The Singleton Center, SEDIMENT Arts, Artemis Gallery, Studio Two Three, Iridian Gallery, and The Collegiate School. They have curated at Delia Dante Gallery, the Anderson Gallery and Artemis Gallery.