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Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea
An estimated 315 billion pounds of plastic trash are swimming in our oceans today. This mass of garbage is deadly to creatures that call the ocean their home. Yet many people are unaware of how immense the problem is.
Washed Ashore is a non-profit organization dedicated to “educating and creating awareness about marine debris and plastic pollution through art.” I recently toured the Washed Ashore art exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The exhibit showcases giant sculptures made of trash collected from beaches. An estimated 18 tons of garbage were collected for the project.
The statues are sculpted to look like such ocean creatures as jellyfish, anemones, and parrotfish. Each creature represented is in danger because of the trash in our oceans.
The idea for the project took hold when artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi “found an ocean that needed healing” in southern Oregon. Pozzi started the Washed Ashore project because she knew that art could “affect people in ways they could not ignore.” Pozzi hopes to help people realize that we not only play a role in the problem, but that we can also be part of the solution.
“BEAUTIFUL AND HORRIFYING”
I spoke with Chris McClernon of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who was touring the exhibit with his son. “It’s really, really ironic that we can take such ugly garbage and make something so beautiful out of it,” McClernon said.
Patrick Chandler, one of the Washed Ashore artists, agreed, saying that the “goal of every sculpture is to be both beautiful and horrifying.”
When asked what people can do to help mitigate the pollution problem, Chandler said that we should reduce our reliance on “items that were made to be used once but can last for decades in the environment.” He said that this one change—using fewer water bottles for example—would “reduce the plastic waste in the world by millions of pounds.”
The exhibit, which opened at the National Zoo in May, will continue through September 5, 2016.