The artist and activist Domenic Esposito has created “The Opioid Spoon Project,” featuring four 800-pound sculptures depicting spoons used for opioids, which he has displayed outside drug companies. One of the sculptures, called FDA Spoon for the initials of the Food and Drug Administration that are engraved on the end, was displayed outside the federal agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. That piece was on display on the campus of Boston University for three weeks last month. Beginning November 6, it will be on display at the Mountainside Recovery Center in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea.
“Our goal is to generate awareness about the intersection of art, activism and recovery; and the reality of the opioid crisis in the U.S.,” Esposito said in a statement.
Each of the four sculptures depicts a partially burnt spoon with a pool of liquid formed in the bowls, the byproduct of heating up heroin or crushed pills. Esposito’s first sculpture was placed outside the headquarters of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma in Connecticut last year.
“I had kind of an epiphany about a year before,” Esposito said in an interview with BU Today, a publication covering news at Boston University. “I spoke at an event at my local parish about what my family was going through and the recovery services the archdiocese offers. You know, it’s a Sunday morning, everyone’s sort of half asleep, then at the end, you do the coffee and donuts. And I got approached by all these families, people saying my son or my daughter or my granddaughter is in a similar situation—I’m glad you opened up. So many people had the same story. There’s this sense of hopelessness. I was already doing a lot of art, so I thought, why don’t I make a huge statement with this spoon. Guerrilla art, sort of.”
Esposito told the publication that he opted to depict spoons rather than needles for a variety of reasons.
“First, it’s the symbolism behind a tool that is supposed to feed us and nourish us,” Esposito said. “Second, it is a clear sign that something is wrong when a drawer is missing spoons. I have heard this said by so many parents. Third, the spoon can be used for all opioids, including oxys and so many other drugs. The fact is that 80 percent of heroin users start on a synthetic opioid.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die each day in the United States from overdosing on opioids.