Monday, January 24, 2022

Washed Ashore: Plastic Trash Transformed into Art

Ocean trash is a huge problem. Symbolically, that is the message from the 11 giant sculptures now on display at the Naples Zoo.

Most of the plastic used for these sculptures were collected from beaches in the Pacific Coast and each sculpture was designed by a lead artist and then created through the collaboration of many artists. Washed Ashore is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “use art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution in oceans, waterways and to spark positive change in consumer habits.”

Founder and Director Angela Haseltine Possi began Washed Ashore Art to Save the Sea project in 2010 with the help of dedicated staff and thousands of community volunteers. Under her guidance, they began creating artwork made completely from garbage they collected from beaches.

Angela Haseltine Possi is familiar with the powerful language that art can convey so she decided to use “artistic action” in her project. With the huge problem of plastic pollution in our oceans, Angela decided that the art had to be huge to reach as many people as possible.

The sculptures display the ocean’s most common plastic polluters: styrofoam, plastic bottles, bottle caps, plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic toys. A plastic water bottle, like the ones on the sculptures, did not get to the beach on its own — it started with the single action of an individual when the bottle was first purchased, and then improperly discarded.

The Lidia the Seal sculpture is appropriately part of the exhibit. Seal species are found around the world and common threats to seals are ingesting bits of plastic or eating fish that have eaten plastic fragments; A plastic bottle left on the beach on a hot sunny day will eventually break down into chunks and smaller pieces. On a windy day, the plastic pieces will get blown to the ocean and mistaken for food by marine animals.

The American Sea Star sculpture is all red, white and blue. As people flock to our beaches, lakes, rivers and waterways to celebrate July 4th, they discard thousands of pounds of plastic much of which enter the waterways thus adding to marine pollution.

Planet or Plastic? According to a 2015 National Geographic report, a staggering 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris is in our oceans. Of that, 269,000 tons float on the surface and get washed ashore; with some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea.

How Can You Help?

  •   Rethink recyclable, reusable products.
  •   Reduce the amount of plastic products you use.
  •   Reuse water bottles, flatware and bags.
  •   Refuse plastic straws.
  •   Recycle all glass, aluminum and plastic products.
  •   Reinvent trash by making it into art or functional items.
  •   Join Marco’s monthly beach clean-up.

Washed Ashore Art will be on display at the Naples Zoo until April 21, 2019. You will not find plastic bags, straws or lids at the Naples Zoo.

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