Bioneers 2010: "Washed Ashore" Art Exhibit Explores Plastic Pollution with Giant Beach-Trash Bird


Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

Inspired by Chris Jordan's photography of birds killed by ingesting plastic, Angela Haseltine Pozzi, artist and Executive Director of Artula Institute, came up with an idea that would put the problem of plastic pollution in perspective. Why not make the issue of birds killed by plastics as big in visibility as it is in importance. By working with a group of volunteers in Bandon, Oregon, Pozzi has created the massive bird shown off at Bioneers in the Bay Area of California, along with other art work created all from beach trash, from flip-flop foam remnants to bottles from the Beijing Olympics still washing up on western coastlines.

The bird, part of the project Washed Ashore, was crafted by a group of volunteers -- everyone from mechanics to school kids, the community pulled together to collect and craft pieces of art that would explain the huge, huge issue of plastic pollution in our oceans.

The bird, named "Avery, " was created just for the Bioneers conference, but it is one of many other large sculptures, including just goldfish, whale skeletons, starfish and other animals impacted by floating plastics.

Pozzi explained that much of what is found on beaches comes from manufacturing and consumer goods that are washed out to sea. The bird was created from the remnants of flip-flop foam cut-outs, plastic ties, tires, ropes, pieces of toys and many other bits and pieces. But while the bird is huge, many of the plastics aren't -- they're so tiny that they're nearly impossible to collect in clean-up efforts. But what is collected is turned into art supplies with a purpose.

Washed Ashore is part of the non-profit Artula Institute for Arts and Environmental Education, which teaches environmental issues through the arts. This is a perfect project that literally turns the problem into a part of the solution. The impressive pieces are life-changing for many of the volunteers and viewers, who now have a clear idea of the scale of plastic pollution.

Another nearby community was inspired by what the folks in Bandon were doing, so soon Newport, Oregon will begin a similar volunteer project that will turn beach trash into educational art supplies. They won't be the only community hearing about and getting inspired by the project -- there will be a full-length documentary about it coming out in 2011.

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Tags: Artists | Oceans | Plastics | Pollution

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