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What can you do with 50,000 wooden coffee stir sticks?

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Written by Elizabeth Weinstein, LASM Director of Interpretation & Chief Curator

The Red Stick Piece, 2014

Artist Jonathan Brilliant visited Baton Rouge in 2014 to make an installation at LASM composed of 50,000 wooden coffee stir sticks woven in place and held by tension along with 4,500 coffee cup sleeves stacked one inside the other, braided aluminum cable, and espresso grounds.

Brilliant created the installation over the course of a week-long residency inside LASM’s Soupcon Gallery. Aptly named The Red Stick Piece, the installation incorporated Community Coffee’s familiar red coffee cup sleeves. A wall drawing composed of coffee grounds visually linked his undulating form with the movement of the Mississippi River viewed outside the window. When Brilliant’s installation closed, area children were invited to tear it down and LASM gave the materials to Glasgow Middle’s Talented Art Program. Under the instruction of Geeta Dave, the students remade the sticks, sleeves, and an additional 5,000 cafeteria sporks into a whimsical, 84-foot long wall installation.

The exhibition A Brilliant Solution in 2015 featured the students’s creation. Titled A Surreal Depiction of Baton Rouge, the wall installation offered a thought-provoking statement about the inter-relationship of mankind and nature while encouraging the use of recycled materials as art. The exhibition also included the time-lapse video of Jonathan Brilliant’s installation and relief prints of coffee sticks created by Brilliant with students at LSU’s College of Art.

Jonathan Brilliant’s installation at LASM was developed by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, with support from the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, LSU School of Art, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and Baton Rouge Community College. The exhibition was made possible thanks to generous support from Matt and Catherine Saurage and Ritter Maher Architects.

A relief print and two framed works using the coffee sticks from the installation are now included in the LASM collection. Jonathan Brilliant, The Red Stick Impression, 2014, paper, 44 1/8 x 30 inches, and The Red Stick Sticks, 2014, wood on paper, 37 1/2 x 51 inches. Both pieces are gifts of the artist.

CLICK HERE and scroll to "Hands-On Activity Guides" create your own chain reaction, powered by tension, by weaving together popsicle sticks, coffee stir sticks, or large craft sticks in various patterns. This hands-on engineering activity related to Brilliant's work is appropriate for 4th grade and up!

See more images of The Red Stick Piece and learn about Jonathan Brilliant at: Find more images of Glasgow Middle’s wall installation at:

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