Artist hopes 800-pound spoon will draw attention to opioid crisis

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Artist hopes 800-pound spoon will draw attention to opioid crisis

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — A Boston-based artist known for targeting drug manufacturers had a local company in his crosshairs Thursday morning.

Domenic Esposito created an 800-pound burnt spoon sculpture – which is meant to depict spoons used by drug addicts – and placed it in front of Rhodes Pharmaceuticals in Coventry. The spoon had the company’s name engraved on the handle.

Esposito – the founder of “The Opioid Spoon Project” – said he’s protesting the role he believes the pharma industry has played in the opioid crisis.

“It’s really hard not to find people who have been affected by this,” he said. “The message of the spoon is like, you’re not alone.”

Esposito told Eyewitness News was inspired to start the project by his brother who was prescribed opioids after an accident and then became an addict. 

“My brother has been battling with his addiction for close to 12 years,” he said.

He said the burnt spoons his family would find made him realize his brother was addicted to heroin.

“For me, it really kind of sucks the air out of your lungs when I hear and see these things,” Esposito said.

In June 2018, Esposito placed his first spoon sculpture in front of Purdue Pharma headquarters in Stamford, Conn. He said making the spoon sculpture takes about two months to complete, but its message is heavier than the actual creation.

“Maybe it’s not a burnt spoon, it’s a pill, or it’s a rolled up piece of cotton that they use to cleanse it,” Esposito said. “It’s these symbols that really kind of bring back the horror stories. It’s a disease that doesn’t just affect the person who’s fighting it, it affects the entire family.”

Eyewitness News has contacted Rhodes about the sculpture – which Esposito has since removed – but have not yet received a comment.

Esposito said he is creating more spoon sculptures which he plans to place near other drug companies. He said he already has a third spoon sculpture in the works.

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