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"Pristine to Extreme: Plastic in Our Oceans"
This body of photographic work includes 2 parts. The first is from my sabbatical trip in the spring of 2011 to Chile. In March, I embarked on a 2 week journey through the Chilean Fjords from Puerto William to Valdivia aboard a marine research vessel called the Sea Dragon. The crew of the Sea Dragon consisted of 10 people: Captain Clive Cosby (England), First mate Dale Selvam (New Zealand), Jeff Ernst self-professed “boat monkey” (California), Robert J. Blake (Nashville) children’s book author and illustrator, Brit Liggett (NYC) green blogger and videographer, Anna Rotander (Sweden) scientist from MTM lab working on the United Nations Safe Planet Campaign, Tasha Erding (Minnesota) age 15, high school student, Alfred Savinelli (New Mexico), Chris Hanson (Minnesota) high school geography teacher, and Teresa VanHatten-Granath (Nashville) green blogger (greenbaglady.org), artist, Belmont University Professor.
During our time aboard, we were on shifts stearing the boat, sleeping and seeing some incredible landscape. We were able to anchor in some locations along the way and explore the coast line. My intention for the trip was to see, study, locate, identify and photograph the various plastics that plague our oceans. Fortunately, this area of the world is largely unpopulated and incredibly pristine with only tiny bits of plastic evidence.
Still interested in plastic pollution upon my return to the U.S., I contacted some friends and fellow artists in California. Many portions of the California coastline struggle with plastic pollution washed in every day from what has become known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This is an area of plastic accumulation in the North Pacific between California and Hawaii. It is estimated that the accumulation area is approximately twice the size of Texas. (more info: 5gyres.org)
The second part of this exhibition includes includes images of natural objects, plastic or a combination of both. These four pieces challenge the viewer to identify natural versus made made items in the images. To further explore these objects, a table is set up for viewers to touch and interact with many of the objects in the photographs.
The final set of photographs are objects collected on the beaches of California. I have long been fascinated with ocean treasures, always collecting shells, rocks and wood whenever I am near the shore. In the past couple of years, I have become fascinated with the objects the ocean ejects that are not natural. These include plastic, styrofoam, metal and fibers such as rope. I am particularly intrigued when the ocean manages to make these man-made items look like natural forms.
My interest in plastic and waste reduction has culminated in the Green Bag Lady project. Green Bag Lady is an eco-friendly art project I started in 2008. My team of volunteers and I make bags from donated fabric and give them away for FREE in exchange for a promise to refuse paper and plastic when shopping. To date we have given away over 21,000 bags world-wide. The use of these bags is documented at greenbaglady.org.
Thank you for attending this exhibition. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at:
The travel for this exhibition was made possible in part by a Tennessee Arts Commission individual artist grant: www.tn.gov/arts/
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