Several months ago, I rescued a canvas from the recycle pile, since that’s what I do. The original art was impressive, but the paint on the canvas was so thick, it was all crackled (and not in a cool renaissance-era kind of way). I filled the larger cracks with heavy duty glue, then painted over the art (sorry un-known artist) with a slurry of leftover paint. The effect was less than I had hoped for, so I took the advice of inspiring artist, Ginny Parsons, and put it away to revisit another time.
Well, another time came along a couple weeks ago when it was announced that the next Redux show would feature art from the studio artists. So, I dug out that reclaimed canvas to give it some re-consideration. Since my original vision had something to do with water, I went to the beach to contemplate. It happened to be a week filled with conversations on plastics in our water, micro-beads, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, plastic bag bans, toxic fish, Coastal Cleanup Day, and the high school task force on plastic.
I brought a bag along to collect any interesting plastic artifacts I might find, and within half an hour I was overwhelmed. Some things didn’t surprise me, such as finding lots of straws and bottle caps, but I was dismayed by the volume of small pieces of plastic that I had never really noticed before. It was evident right before my eyes, that plastic items we discard get broken down by the elements, even chewed on by fish and other animals until it becomes a part of our environment and a part of us. Yikes!
Back at my studio, things started to click together. I combined my slurried canvas with a piece of painted driftwood my mother, special artist, Joani Braun, gave me many years ago. Then went to work incorporating all the pieces of plastic I found. I was very sad and overwhelmed by what I had collected on my beach walk, but I’m glad I have this opportunity to share what I saw, and to express my experience through art.
If you’re so moved, check out this short documentary to learn more about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and what some incredible people are doing about it (including Pharrell Williams!): The Plastic Age. And come see “A Seal’s Gaze” in person on October 9 at the Redux show, “Behind the Wall.”