“The opposite of beauty is not ugly… it’s indifference.” — Richard Lang
There are many complex issues involved in the elimination of pollutants from the environment, but there’s at least one problem easy to identify and understand — trash. Take just one walk on a beach, and you’ll quickly see the ugly truth.
More than 8 million tons of plastic makes its way into the Ocean each year, and the stuff doesn’t go-away or disappear. Just one plastic bag takes 1,000 years to decompose. Much of this garbage can be seen floating on top of the ocean surface. Between California and Hawaii, the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is more than double the size of Texas, and it’s just one of many similar floating debris patches.
Ray Ives, a retired Royal Marine and commercial diver, saw even more during his 40+ years of deep sea diving,……“You can’t believe some of the things people dump in the sea. It’s like the biggest rubbish dump in the world”.
Artists are using their creative talents in amazing ways to help make positive change as their works of art bring attention to the plastic pollution problem the world faces and inspire all of us to “rethink plastic”.
Gyrecraft is a short film about crafting objects at sea, in the past with whale’s teeth and in the future with plastics collected from Ocean waters.
Studio Swine went on a 1,000 nautical mile journey through the North Atlantic Gyre, from the Azores to the Canaries, collecting plastics as they sailed. (The North Atlantic Gyre is one of five large systems of circulating ocean currents. The vortex of currents traps man-made marine debris into a large, dense floating debris zone called the ‘North Atlantic Garbage Patch’.) Using a specially designed ‘Solar Extruder’ machine, the plastic pieces collected during the trip were melted on board ship with heat from the Sun, creating a ‘sea plastic’ material used to create art works.
In the short video, Sea Chair, watch as a stool is built on a boat from the plastic collected in a fisherman’s nets.
Since 1999, Richard and Judith Selby Lang have been visiting a special spot at Kehoe Beach at the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California, collecting plastics that have washed up on shore. The Lang’s then take their treasures home, wash and sort the items, and create works of art. Over the years, they’ve collected tons of the stuff, learned a lot about ocean pollution, and discovered each little bit of found plastic has an interesting story to tell and provides an insight into human culture.
Aurora Robson is a multi-media artist known for her work with waste materials, and the founding artist of Project Vortex a collective of creatives who work with plastic debris as a medium and support organizational efforts to reduce the amount of plastic littering the oceans and shorelines of the world. She has said the intention of her art is “to take something negative, try to change the direction it’s going, and turn it into something positive”.
Inspired to create your own “environmental art”, but not sure how to start? David Edgar creates marine life art forms from plastic bottles, and his instructional fish project video is a how-to guide for beginners. In the demonstration, you’ll learn that creating a sculpture requires scissors and a couple of simple tools, and reshaping plastic can be accomplish with heat from a hair dryer. Really, the possibilities are endless because unfortunately, so is the trash.
Point Reyes National Seashore Point Reyes is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean, supporting a large diversity of species throughout the food chain and ecosystem.
One Plastic Beach The Lang’s offer workshops, presentations, art sales, commercial and residential artwork commissions
Aurora Robson See more art and media
Washed Ashore – Haseltine Pozzi, an artist and longtime art teacher, made it her mission to collect garbage that washes up along the Oregon coastline and use it to create large art sculptures in an effort to bring awareness to the enormous amount of plastic pollution in oceans and waterways and inspire change.
Project Vortex is an international collective of artists, designers and architects creating art works with plastic debris in support of projects that intercept plastic waste in innovative ways and help water cleanup efforts.
Plastic Ocean by Tan Zi Xi – an inspired art installation simulating the environment of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch created the experience of being immersed in a space covered with trash.
Healthy Seas – a joint venture of non-government organizations and businesses dedicated to cleaning ocean of litter and recycling it into new products such as socks, swimwear, textiles and carpets.
International Coastal Cleanup Day is celebrated annually the third Saturday in September to encourage people to join in efforts to rid beaches of the garbage plaguing beaches, and around the world, conservation groups organize cleanups along coastlines and waterways.
Plastic Oceans Foundation – a non-profit organization with a mission to engage people through education and media projects, campaigns and global partnerships
You’ll be surprised to see what lies
beneath the waves – Art Underwater
Our Oceans are suffering from many decades of
abuse and neglect, but each of us has the power to help heal it
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Feature photo is courtesy of Free Stock Pro/Pexels CC0
Zola Zeester says
Got inspired to create while researching this article, and am now on the hunt for plastics!