Art Museum Exhibition Highlights Ocean Plastic Pollution Crisis
|Myrtle Beach, SC –
Plastic waste and its subsequent pollution of the earth’s oceans has drawn increasing attention in recent years. This summer the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum hopes to expand the conversation with an intriguing and provocative exhibition titled Can’t You Sea? | Ocean Plastic ARTifacts. The exhibition features two-and three-dimensional works by six contemporary artists/activists, along with a companion series of lectures and discussions created to intrigue, educate and invite viewers to examine their own roles in worldwide ocean plastic pollution.
The exhibit opens Saturday, June 15 and runs through September 8. An opening celebration from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. is free and open to the public and will feature the unveiling of a larger-than-life welded-wire outdoor sculpture of an octopus – filled with plastic waste – by North Myrtle Beach artist Jim Swaim. The work, created specifically for this exhibition, is the first of its kind in Myrtle Beach and was commissioned (appropriately) by the Horry County Solid Waste Authority.
The main exhibition includes works created from plastic waste, much of which was found in our oceans on our beaches, from photographer Alejandro Durán; “3D Impressionist”
sculptor Sayaka Ganz; painter/sculptor/environmental activist Pam Longobardi; multimed ia abstract sculptor Aurora Robson; multimedia assemblage artist Kirkland Smith; and artist/activist Dianna Cohen, whose primary art medium is the ubiquitous plastic bag.
“Art is powerful,” says Art Museum Curator Liz Miller. “It has the ability to communicate important social, political and environmental issues in a way that is loud and unyielding in its resolve and at the same time playful and beautiful in its approach.”
Durán is a Mexico City native and creator of Washed Up, an environmental installation and photography project highlighting plastic debris documented to be from 58 nations and territories on six continents; all washed ashore on the coast of Sian Ka’an, Mexico’s largest federally protected reserve and an UNESCO World Heritage site. Japanese-born sculptor Ganz is known for her vibrant sculptures of animals and other images from nature that she crafts from reclaimed metal and plastic.
Atlanta-based artist and art professor Longobardi is also founder of the Drifters Project, which works to clean beaches and repurpose plastic waste items into art through artists cooperative in countries around the world and which has been featured in National Geographic and the Sierra Club magazine.
South Carolina-based Smith, who was featured in a 2016 Art Museum exhibition, is a
representational painter who began creating portraits and assemblages from post-consumer waste materials to illustrate the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling.
Cohen, who is based in Los Angeles, is co-founder of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, a group that addresses the pervasive problem of plastic pollution and offers everyday strategies to reduce the amount of plastic items we all consume. Cohen studied art and biology at UCLA. She now calls herself an eco-aware artist and often uses the ubiquitous plastic bag as her medium.
To be unveiled on opening day, Saturday, June 15, Swaim’s outdoor octopus sculpture for Can’t You Sea? will have a body seven to eight feet high; with tentacles, it will stand close to twelve feet tall and will grace the Museum’s front lawn. It will be filled with trash supplied from a beach cleanup organized by the Museum.
Accompanying the exhibition will be a thought-provoking lecture/discussion series, Planet or Plastic?, designed to further educate exhibit viewers on the breadth of the ocean pollution problem. The world’s oceans contain an estimated 150 million tons of plastic with 8 million tons added annually – equivalent to a garbage truckload every minute. Plastic waste kills and injures marine life, spreads toxins and poses a health threat to humans as well. The six lectures in the series will include a screening of Straws, a 30-minute award-winning film followed by a discussion with the firm’s director/producer Linda Booker; a lecture by Beth Terry, activist and author of My Plastic-Free Life; lectures by participating artists in the exhibitions about their own environmental projects; and a panel of local activity and legislators who will offer their own success stories in limiting single-use plastic waste.
Lectures, normally held at the Art Museum facility, will be moved to the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront to enable more participants to attend. Admission to the seven lectures will be $10 per person, per event and reservations are necessary.
To round out the educational/aesthetic experience, the Art Museum Shop will feature a variety of fun and practical plastic alternatives including everyday items such as reusable straws, shopping bags and food storage wraps. In addition we will be offering unique jewelry pieces created using post-consumer recycled glass and plastic water bottles. Books by authors participating in the Museum’s Planet or Plastic? Lecture Series will also be available (with book signings following select lectures).
Admission to the Art Museum is free at all times but donations are welcome.
Planet or Plastic? Lecture Series
To be held at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront; contact the Art Museum for details and reservations.
June 26: Susan Freinkel, author: Plastic: A Toxic Love Story
July 10: Panel Discussion: Aware and Active: Local Leaders in Looking for Plastic Solutions
July 24: Dana Beach, founder/executive director, Coastal Conservation League, author: A Wholly Admirable Thing
August 7: Beth Terry, activist/author: Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too
August 21: Linda Booker, director/producer, Straws
August 28: Pollution Professionals Panel: Working to Make a Difference
Sept. 8: Pam Longobardi, Georgia State University Professor of Art, artist/activist and founder, Drifters Project