Shelley Spector: Bottle Soap

Shelley Spector: Bottle Soap


Mixed media with reclaimed soy oil, coconut oil, water, potassium hydroxide, boric acid and essential oils. Varied sizes  (2”-13.5” individually.)

Bottle Soap involves a partnership between Shelley Spector and a Philadelphia donut company, for the collection of their used soy oil. Through a chemical process, she transforms the oil into small batches of unique liquid soaps, decanted into one of a kind, bottle editions and installations. 

While in Costa Rica at an artist residency, Spector discovered that the soap she used was made with cooking oil reclaimed from their kitchen. Intrigued by this idea of reuse, she returned to Costa Rica several years later to study soap making. Through this process, Spector makes the soap that fills the bottles on display. These pieces continue the artist’s investigation of the theory that an artwork can generate needed resources, and re-establish the activity of making artwork as a community-based intervention. Her interests are in researching and understanding the models or ideals of an artist’s practice that might be unsustainable or outdated as well as those that are new and innovative.

With the development of this project, Spector hopes to create a small sustainable system, one that extends the use of the oil in a way that can benefit communities or individuals in her area.   

Shelley Spector is a multidisciplinary artist based in Philadelphia. In her practice she responds to available resources, often discarded, in combination with a changeable work environment. She produces distinct bodies of work that search for social interconnectedness. Her work is part of many public and private collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which presented her solo exhibition “Keep The Home Fires Burning” in 2015, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and Human Rights Campaign in Washington, DC. Spector has received grants from the Pollock-Kranser Foundation, Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Leeway Foundation. 

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