It started with an invitation. A group of artists were set to meet in a vacant classroom to occupy it with ideas lead by Nadia Huggins and Raven Hoflund. At the time we weren't aware that this classroom would be just above the gallery where we would show our work less than a year later. The concept was so simple and well received, we all could have thought we came up with it ourselves if it weren't for having 'discovered' it in same room. Ocean debris turned into art. Minds fluttered with curiosity of each other's skills and what they could bring to the table. An island of artists with a coastline full of unfortunate opportunity was to define this exhibit.
The beach clean up was a collaborative effort between the artists and volunteers, two groups with separate goals, but achieving the same objective. Clean up the beach, find some inspiration. Depending on who picked up what object, one found themselves either looking at trash or treasure. A specific moment which illustrated this is where one volunteer picked up a fishing net and immediately stuffed it in their waste collection bag, and another artist caught a glimpse yelling out in desperation to retrieve it well knowing it was their final piece for their project.
Our best efforts gave us dozens of bags filled with ocean debris, particularly plastics. The count provided interesting statistics of what was collected on the given day including:
- ~1000 Plastic Bottle Caps.
- Enough flip flops to open a 2nd hand retail business.
- Kilograms upon kilograms of plastic hauled off the black sand coastline which sufficed to skip leg day at the gym.
The most interesting part of the project was actually finding and interacting with the debris in their own environment. I was often met with the thought of how it got there or who once owned it. Perhaps it was crucial to someone's life, yet now it's simply a rejected or broken object poorly laid to rest.
Adventuring under the ocean had been my favourite part when finding objects. Looking for things I once totally ignored, with a new recognition that lazy pirates had lay treasure all over the seafloor.
Ultimately artists chose what they resonated best with. The pieces vary wildly between artists, but they all had in common of helping others understand what we are all apart of. Many who visited the exhibition found themselves suddenly surrounded by illustrations and sculptures of items that were discarded to be ignored forever. Bringing the behaviour to the forefront was a critical part of the pieces, the weathered, battered and sun bleached pieces show that they live on despite our best efforts to pretend otherwise.
The characters that showed interest during the exhibit were broad, much like the pieces themselves, where every individual provided their own piece of life to the art allowing for it to become more than anyone ever intended for these found objects.
At last, I encourage any of you reading at the very least to start paying attention to what you find discarded by others determined as trash. It can help define critical issues concerning the environment but also can inspire other endeavours from keen observation and understanding it's impact.
It was a pleasure working with all the artists and everyone who made this exhibition possible.
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