Art is a common language which everyone can appreciate regardless of age, gender, race, or culture.
Creating art out of the ocean debris that litters our beaches is one of the new ways artists are communicating a powerful story about our ocean’s plight. Ocean art is helping expand our perspective on the relationship between mankind and our blue world and can reframe how we think about ocean issues.
Washed Ashore is building and exhibiting aesthetically powerful art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution in oceans and waterways and spark positive changes in consumer habits. Their work is currently being displayed in Natural Science Centers around the United States, where it is reaching the general public and helping make the point that the oceans are urgently in need of our help.
Lead Artist and Executive Director Angela Pozzi began her work with Washed Ashore based on the idea that you can’t teach people unless they want to learn.
But she didn’t just want her work to be beautiful, it had to be “Beautiful and horrifying” to change the way people think about the world’s ocean. “We’re not just showing a pile of garbage through our work, we’re connecting people to the idea that this garbage is now a part of marine life, and that’s not right” Angela said.
Why Plastic Pollution?
There are a myriad of human-induced problems facing our world’s oceans, so why guide viewers to the issues of plastic pollution?
For Angela, the focus on plastics came from a personal experience. During a tough part of her life, she sought peace and healing from the ocean as many people can relate to. However what she found was an ocean that needed more help than she did.
In that moment she decided to use her talents and ideas to create art using the very thing harming our seas, plastic. “I figured why should I purchase more materials to create art with when I have this seemingly endless supply of plastic washing up on our coastlines. I won’t run out of supplies anytime soon” Angela noted. “Also, plastic pollution is something that everyday people can absolutely make a difference about.”
Angela’s advice is simple: “Stop. Think. And take action”. In America, people face so many choices everyday in how to spend their hard earned dollar, and every purchase decision is an action that can affect our oceans.
It’s our responsibility to think about the impacts of what we buy on the ocean. Single-use disposable plastics, like plastic bags, or plastic straws are simply unnecessary when you think about it. They’re the product of a culture immersed in wastefulness, and all that we really have to do is take the time to think before acting. “Make it a personal pledge to yourself to use less of a certain kind of plastic each day” Angela suggests.
“Be patient with yourself and just keep trying. You’ll forget sometimes and it’ll take time to get used to. That’s why it’s so important to teach children early so they don’t have to waste time correcting their habits, acting responsibly will come naturally to them.”
A few simple and easy ways anyone can become involved in the fight against plastic pollution are to buy re-usable shopping bags and water bottles, and opt not to use plastic straws when out to eat. Also, small actions such as picking up a bit of trash at the beach can go a long way. Not only does cleaning the beach set an example to a community about how the beach should look, it also can contagiously inspire action by others to do the same.
The road to solving the crisis of plastic pollution is still a long one, and thanks to the work of people like Angela and Washed Ashore, more and more people are joining the fight each and every day.
Photos: Washed Ashore