“Plasticozoic,” an exhibition by graduate student Mariah Armstrong Conner, will open on April 26, with a reception from 4-6 p.m., at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art Dutton Family Gallery at Cal State San Bernardino.

This Master of Fine Art thesis exhibition, which will run through May 10, explores human relationships with the natural world through sculptures and installations incorporating hand-blown glass, projection, crystallization, found objects and marine debris.

Conner’s work is inspired by biological forms and the disciplines of archeology, geology and anthropology. “Plasticozoic” combines glass with plastic marine debris, including crystalized plastic specimens; 111 (for the years since plastic was invented) glass rock forms filled with plastic she collected and sorted over a two-year span from along the California coast; and bottles containing marine plastic sent to her by participants from around the U.S. and across the world.

The works can be seen as time capsules or imagined artifacts of the future. Her use of glass alludes to precariousness, fragility, distortion, the ephemerality of life and the possibility of misperception. While colorful and alluring, the exhibition carries an unsettling message about the reality of humanity’s effects on Earth’s ecosystems. The title is borrowed from marine biologist Sylvia A. Earle’s assertion: “Future geologists will be able to precisely mark our era as the Plasticozoic, the place in the sands of time in which bits of plastic first appeared.”

After completing her Bachelor of Arts from the College of Idaho in 2007, Conner settled in Southern California. She has taught glass art at Cal State San Bernardino and has been a teaching assistant at Palomar College and Pittsburgh Glass Center. Recent exhibitions include “Sustainability and Public Good,” CAA 2018 MFA at the Cal State LA Fine Arts Gallery, “Anthropocene” at the Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, New York, and “Life in the Cracks” at the San Bernardino County Museum.

She has received several Cal State San Bernardino awards, including the Sam and Beverly Maloof Art Scholarship, a partner scholarship with UrbanGlass to attend a workshop in Brooklyn, New York, and an SSI Culminating Project grant. She has also attended Pilchuck Glass School through an artist assistantship and a visionary scholarship from the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass.

Conner’s early years included time in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and on the beaches of Baja Mexico and Southern California. Her work is influenced by explorations of wilderness areas, snorkeling, scuba diving through now bleached sections of the Great Barrier Reef and beachcombing for plastic debris, which have given her a firsthand appreciation for nature’s fragile equilibriums and the far-reaching impacts of human actions.


The Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art is a nationally recognized museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The only accredited art museum in San Bernardino, RAFFMA has accumulated a permanent collection of nearly 1,200 objects focusing on Egyptian antiquities, ceramics and contemporary art. Located at Cal State San Bernardino, RAFFMA houses the largest permanent and public display of Egyptian art in Southern California.

General admission to the museum is free. Suggested donation is $3. Parking at Cal State San Bernardino is $6 per vehicle and $3 on weekends.

The museum is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday from noon to 8 p.m.; and is closed Friday and Sunday. For more information, call (909) 537-7373 or visit the RAFFMA website.