Smithsonian Features Recycled Trash Sculptures

Image courtesy National Zoological Park

The plastics used in these colorful and eye-catching sculptures being shown at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo weren’t recycled in the way outlined yesterday, but rather were found by artist Angela Pozzi and her volunteers along the West Coast beaches that they traveled, picking up waste to raise awareness at a later date through their traveling art exhibit, “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.” The seventeen sculptures of marine wildlife are bombastic and full of character. Sabrina Greene reports for the Smithsonian Insider:

“The exhibit at the Zoo appears to be a wonderful success,” Pozzi says. “I have seen dozens of visitors stopping and looking closely, then entering into discussions and then really thinking about the marine debris issue. Besides raising awareness, one of our goals is for the public to start taking ownership of the problem and reevaluating their own plastic usage. We hope to spark positive changes in consumer habits. Every piece of plastic in our exhibit that we have picked up off the beaches, every single bit of it, was once purchased by somebody.”

Pozzi speaks highly of the Smithsonian. “The staff and the volunteers at the Zoo have been the best support system around one of our exhibits I’ve seen in the last 6 years,” she says.

Hagedorn of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute has been working for 12 years to save coral reefs, which are some of the most delicate and important ecosystems in our oceans. “For me personally, the “Washed Ashore” exhibit really brought to light, in a beautiful way, just how disgusting all the garbage that pervades our oceans is,” Hagedorn says.

The exhibit has helped bring attention to and spark conversation about the cause Hagedorn has dedicated her life to: helping to conserve our oceans’ marine life. “I think that the sculptures are really beautiful, and they connect with people’s emotions, especially kids.”

Pozzi agrees. “Kids get it first, she says. “They just don’t have the screen of all the guilt and the consumer habits already in place.”

Not only do kids get the opportunity to learn about individual sea creatures, but they are also able to identify everyday objects that make up the sculpture, and they quickly realize that flip-flops and bottle caps don’t belong in the sea. The sculptures serve as a sort of “I Spy” or “Find-It” game, engaging the children visually. The marlins, sharks, fish, and whalebones are colorful conversation starters between parents and children, scientists and the public. The shark looks not so much like something to fear, but an animal worth saving.

“I want to use the power of the arts to bring it to people so that they will not ignore it. And they will want their picture taken next to it and they will talk about it. Then they’ll want to know more and we can educate them,” Pozzi says.

Read the rest of the piece here.

One thought on “Smithsonian Features Recycled Trash Sculptures

  1. Although I don’t support zoos 100%, this program sounds wonderful and very effective. One can only hope visitors will take this important message to heart and always do/act with the best interest of the earth in mind.

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