By now, nearly everyone has heard about the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a large mass of discarded plastic debris floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that was discovered in the late 1990s by Captain Charles Moore. As the reliance on plastic water bottles and single use products continues to grow, items not making it to the landfill or getting recycled find their way into the middle of the ocean where the sun breaks them down and the chemicals used in the creation of the plastic pollute the water and damage the ecosystem.
In a new show curated by Santa Cruz artist, author and energy medicine practitioner Robin Lysne, Ph.D., Santa Clara’s Studio Bongiorno opens Plastic Paralysis on Friday, June 12, with approximately 10 artists showcaseing work reflecting the effects plastics have on society.
“What this was inspired by is that we have a huge gyre – a big, circular, spiral thing – out in the ocean above Hawaii,” said Lysne. “It’s two times the size of Texas and spinning out there with all of our plastic debris – all of our waste. If it doesn’t get in the landfill, plastic lives forever. It might break down but the chemicals in it are polluting our land and they’re polluting the ocean … as the sun hits [the gyre] the plastic breaks up into little bits and the fish are eating it and dying. It’s impacting a lot of wildlife.”
Plastic Paralysis, however, isn’t just about the art; it’s about a wasteful society and the impact of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” In addition to the exhibit, an eco-night with a film and discussion hosted by artist Bea Garth and Christopher Arcus is scheduled for Friday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m. Moore will be presenting on Monday, June 22 at 7 p.m., and a closing reception with an eco-poetry reading and open mic will be on Friday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Garth has hosted other ecological events at the studio and Moore, the founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, will talk about the disastrous effects of plastic on ocean life, show a film and samples taken from the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” and discuss how the pollution can be stopped.
“Artists are the way that we’re going to bring things to the attention of the public,” said Lysne. “We’re hoping that this exhibit will bring a little bit of attention to this problem … When I heard Captain Moore talk about this and I started researching by looking at pictures of the gyre online, that’s what really got me. We’re all responsible for this so somebody has to start talking about it.”
Studio Bongiorno is at 500 Lincoln Street in Santa Clara. An opening reception with artists talking about their work is scheduled for Friday, June 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Artists in Plastic Paralysis: Heidi Cramer, Torreya Cummings, Teresa Merchant, Emily Bones, Janet Trenchard, Phil Bongiorno, David Canavese, Stuart Pressley, Garth and Lysne