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Awesome Art from Ocean Trash: An Ecological Adventure

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Shark sculpture by Washed Ashore. Note identifiable trash items in the shark such as shoe soles.
Shark sculpture by Washed Ashore. Note identifiable trash items in the shark such as shoe soles.
(Image by Washed Ashore)
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On Sunday morning the weather was spectacular and I headed to Norfolk Botanical Garden, which is currently hosting a national art exhibition, Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea through October 31, 2021. The display features larger-than-life sculptures of marine life created from ocean trash found on beaches, and includes fish, penguins, polar bears and a huge shark.

Artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi. Note identifiable trash items in the penguin such as flip flops and plastic chain.
Artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi. Note identifiable trash items in the penguin such as flip flops and plastic chain.
(Image by Washed Ashore)
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Artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi is the founder and creative director of the Oregon non-profit, Washed Ashore, a grassroots environmental organization that works to bring awareness to the world's growing plastic pollution problem through art. More than 14,000 volunteers have helped clean beaches, collecting over 35 tons of debris. After the debris is collected and cleaned, it is sorted by color; none of the debris is painted.

Polar bear sculpture by Washed Ashore
Polar bear sculpture by Washed Ashore
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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Angela designs each sculpture, and under her artistic direction lead designers and volunteers have transformed the ocean trash into more than 85 giant sculptures over the last decade, depicting animals and sea life affected by plastic pollution. Washed Ashore has a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History as well as several traveling exhibits that tour the country. Look for upcoming exhibitions in Lincoln City Cultural Center OR; John Ball Zoo, MI; Wichita Gardens, KS and Tennessee Aquarium, TN; dates are listed at the end of this article.

Jellyfish  sculpture by Washed Ashore
Jellyfish sculpture by Washed Ashore
(Image by Washed Ashore)
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Pozzi notes that all of this art is made to be touched.

Penguin  sculpture by Washed Ashore
Penguin sculpture by Washed Ashore
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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According to the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur foundation, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

Rosa the Eagle sculpture by Washed Ashore
Rosa the Eagle sculpture by Washed Ashore
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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Rosa the Bald Eagle is the star of the show at Virginia's Norfolk Botanical Garden. The sculpture has a 15-foot wing span and is named after Rosa Parks.

More than 1,550 volunteers from seven states, including hundreds of NBG volunteers, helped to create sections of the eagle. Local students, families and military groups constructed 700 of these feathers - more than 4,000 feathers were created in total!

Detail of feathers, Rosa the Eagle sculpture by Washed Ashore
Detail of feathers, Rosa the Eagle sculpture by Washed Ashore
(Image by Norfolk Botanical Garden)
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After enjoying the exhibit, I found a place to sit and sketch one of the bridges in the park.

The author's plein air painting at Norfolk Botanical Garden
The author's plein air painting at Norfolk Botanical Garden
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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The Norfolk Botanical Garden is currently 175 acres. It was started when land was set aside for a botanical garden in 1938. Under a Works Progress Administration (WPA) grant, 200 African-American women and 20 men cleared the site. By March 1939, 4,000 azaleas, 2,000 rhododendrons, several thousand miscellaneous shrubs and trees, and 100 bushels of daffodils had been planted. A number of gardens were added through the 1950s and 1960s, including a Japanese garden, desert plants garden, colonial garden and rose garden. At one point when the neighboring Norfolk International Airport expanded, it took 20 acres of the garden. In 2005, the Norfolk Botanical Garden was added to the National Register of Historic Places, protecting it from further loss of land.

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Upcoming Washed Ashore touring exhibitions:

Lincoln City Cultural Center, Lincoln City, OR: October 12, 2021 - March 13, 2022

John Ball Zoo, Grand Rapids MI: April 22, 2021 - October 16, 2022

Wichita Gardens, Wichita Kansas: May 15th 2022 - November 3, 2022

Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga Tennessee: April 16, 2022 - October 16, 2022

About Norfolk Botanical Garden
Norfolk Botanical Garden is an oasis of more than 60 themed gardens encompassing 175 beautiful acres. From stunning plant collections to WOW - World of Wonders: A Children's Adventure Garden, this diverse natural beauty can be explored by tram, boat, or walking tours. The Garden is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, recognized as a Virginia Historic Landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Virginia Green attraction. It is managed by Norfolk Botanical Garden, Inc. and supported by the City of Norfolk. The mission of Norfolk Botanical Garden is to immerse visitors in a world of beauty, lead through environmental action, and inspire through education and connection to nature. If you visit, bring a refillable water bottle, water stations are available in the garden.

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)
 

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