Trash As Art

Using collected marine debris in art installations and outreach collages isn’t exactly a novel concept.  However, it is interesting to see various artists use the materials in ways that demonstrate some hidden truth about the issue of plastic trash.  GOOD Magazine, one of my new favorite online reads, recently posted about a pair of artists from northern California.  Their online gallery showing collages of marine debris is interesting for a number of reasons but I particularly liked that they chose to collage like items together for their work.  The effect of an all out show of such pieces must be quite dramatic – depicting concentrations of various sorts of trash (like lemon juice containers or little girl’s dragonfly barrettes) intermixed across several groups.

I almost wonder whether such a show is ultimately an intellectual endeavor or an emotional one. Do the observers of this couple’s art ask themselves questions of how the trash got out into the ocean, consider the the storylines of the trash?  Do they wonder how much more debris is still at large on shorelines around the world?  Are they at all motivated by seeing trash used as art to reconsider their use of plastic in their everyday lives?  Or is it more of a depressing afternoon stroll, looking at images of globalization gone awry?  Hmm.  Things to ponder as an educator certainly.

The other thing that really struck me while looking at their work?  How clean all the debris is! They must be cleaning their work or are living in areas where the waves are doing much of the work of keeping the trash relatively clear of sediment and algae and fouling organisms like worms and barnacles.  The other alternative of course is that this trash isnt out there long enough to pick up hitchhiking bivalves and greenery, and gets burped out onto the California beaches in short order.

I’m considering whether or not to do something similar with One Ton Landed project’s collected trash.  The rain kept us off the beachline today but tomorrow we’ll be back out scoping and seiving for trash.