Article by: Deepthi Sendilkumar
Sasha Fishman is a budding artist, sculptor and researcher based in Los Angeles. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Sasha found herself working greatly with resin. Soon she came across bioplastics, and the strong similarities between resin and bioplastic piqued her interest. This pushed her art and expanded her scope of materials which can be used. Being acquainted with Elliot Roth, Sasha learned more about spirulina and the impacts of petroleum-based dyes. She continued to work closely with Elliot to understand spirulina extraction and even attended Genspace class to gain knowledge on color chemistry optics bio. Sasha fell immediately in love with spirulina and its potential, now she often utilizes its vibrant and impressive dyes.
Working with Spirulina
Sasha is a part-time materials researcher here at Spira, where she works with a number of biomaterials including algae. Recently Sasha’s work was presented at the BMW MATERIA: Garden of Possibilities, a showcase to promote the various living organisms and sustainable materials which can potentially be implemented in BMW products. The showcase aimed at promoting sustainability, ingenuity, and circularity. Here Sasha displayed a sculpture with cascading veins of chitosan triangles and varying amounts of spirulina pigment forming a gradient. Sasha described this as a great experience and allowed her to look at the possibilities with spirulina in different ways. Sasha also experiments and creates stamps, paints, and textile dyes using spirulina. She works with Klara, Spira’s intern, to help navigate problems and provide recommendations based on her experience.
Through Sasha’s work, she became familiar with spirulina and how to best use it. Sasha explained early in working with spirulina she experimented with the environmental boundaries, for instance, the pigment may initially present itself as blue but turn turquoise due to UV. Other obstacles include salinity issues and the overall finicky temperament of spirulina, however, Sasha described the process as a humbling experience and only grew her interest in working with biomaterials. To help build her knowledge and interest in algae, she enrolled in a botany class at the Huntington Gardens through Pasadena City College, which she highly recommends to all.
Currently, Sasha is working on many exciting projects, one being her collaboration with Sutherlinsanto on a bioplastic piece using algal pigments. Another project includes creating different sculptures such as this one with spirulina pigment and working on bioreactors which were recently shown at Navel.
Sasha also enjoys teaching and spreading knowledge on the use of biomaterials, recently she taught a chitosan extraction workshop using local shrimps shells at Navel and had attendees cast their own chitosan bioplastics that they got to color with Spira’s pigments. Through October 8th, Sasha had her work shown at the Atavistic Homeschooling of Espalier show at Below Grand in the lower east side New York. She has an upcoming show at Bozo Mag in October where there will also be a release of a book published by 9vt\5 about her experience with hagfish and Priscilla.
Sasha is excited to see more artists utilizing spirulina and other biomaterials in their work and we’re excited to see what’s in store for her next. Sign up for her email list to hear about upcoming shows, open studios, workshops and projects here.