There's a bunch of animals at the zoo made out of ocean garbage
There's a bunch of animals at the zoo made out of ocean garbage Pozzi and her team at the Washed Ashore project, achieve a remarkable and convincing array of textures. (Adam Mason of Mason Photography)
There's a bunch of animals at the zoo made out of ocean garbage
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Standing beside her several-times-life-sized sculpture, "Sebastian James the Puffin," one of 17 of her works installed at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, Angela Pozzi talked about the puffin's namesake. She created the work the same year her father James died.
"He's very dignified like my dad," Pozzi says of the puffin, who stands on a base of just the sort of entangled fishing gear that claims the lives of many ocean birds. The birds often fatally mistake plastic trash for food, a label beside the sculpture notes.
As she discussed the work, made completely out of trash that she and her team retrieved from West Coast beaches, Pozzi spotted litter on the ground.  She didn't lose her train of thought as she reached for a discarded food tray and pitched it in a recycling bin.
In Pozzi's sculptures, viewers can make out everything from flip-flops, toothbrushes and eyeglasses to microwaves, pails and shovels and car keys. The works have their feet firmly planted in both environmental activism and the art world. Louise Nevelson, a sculptor who created artworks from discarded New York trash, is an inspiration for Pozzi, whose parents were artists. Pozzi also owns prints by two other favorite artists, Dr. Seuss and Alexander Calder. Like the two, Pozzi creates art that is both serious and playful.
"It has to be good art, or else it won't do the message," she said on a tour of the works a few days before the exhibition, "Washed Ashore: Art to Save The Sea", opened at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington. The works are on view until Sept. 5.
Despite the nature of the materials, Pozzi and her team at the Washed Ashore project achieve a remarkable and convincing array of textures. The feathers suggested around the puffin's eyes and on his chest lend him not only that distinguished look -- think of some of the drawings of Wol from "Winnie the Pooh" but also an astonishing naturalism.
She sees a logical progression from her childhood to the art she makes today.
"Ever since I was a small child, I would get excited about when the toothpaste started getting empty," she says, "because I would get to have the toothpaste lid on top and turn it into a little cup for my trolls. I've always looked at repurposing supplies."
She didn't think of the repurposing then in environmental terms, but today, she says, standing in front of a fish she made of plastics that have bite marks on them, scientists applaud her work for its ability to raise awareness in a way that they can't.
"I need to reach inside of people," she says. That doesn't mean doing away with scientific facts, "but you have to grab them, and you have to make them care and you have to get their attention," she says.
On the scientific side, the scope of the problem is enormous. The exhibition reflects on the more than 315 billion pounds of plastics that litter the seas, according to a zoo release. The announcement refers to the pollution as "the ocean's deadliest predator -- trash."

Mary Hagedorn, a Smithsonian marine biologist and senior research scientist at the zoo's Conservation Biology Institute, is using fertility clinic techniques used for humans to save coral reefs.
Coral reefs, which are being threatened globally by surging ocean temperatures, are not only animals, but they also are habitats. Hermaphrodites, they reproduce both sexually and asexually.
"They are very complicated biologically," Hagedorn says, noting that coral reefs have some of the most restrictive reproductive schedules of any animals. The vast majority of coral species only reproduce once a year, for two to three days, and just 45 minutes each of those days. If coral stays bleached too long, it can throw off an already delicately balanced reproductive process.
In coral, which Hagedorn says already contributes $350 billion a year to the global economy, she sees promise in the "kind of chemical warfare" that the species use to fight one another as they compete for light (as trees do).
"These antimicrobials are going to be really important in terms of our future pharmaceutical actions," she said. "They're a lot more than just a pretty face."
For Pozzi, the pretty faces of at-risk ocean life are made of objects that were irresponsibly discarded precisely because they were thought to have outlived their usefulness. In her sculptures, however, they experience a transformation. And she just sees the scale of her project growing and growing. (Mike Rowe, of "Dirty Jobs" and "Somebody's Gotta Do It" fame, spent an hour with the Washed Ashore team recently for a show. "He goofs around and he's silly, but he was really serious with us," Pozzi says, noting that Rowe picked a boot for the penguin sculpture's bottom.)
"I've always thought that this should be a global project," she said. "We've created, in six years, 66 sculptures out of about 18 tons of garbage that just came ashore in a 300-mile stretch. And it's only just a few people picking it up. What if we got people around the world picking up garbage?"

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How is this art both serious and playful?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • llandon-dav
    8/25/2016 - 10:03 p.m.

    In response to "There's a bunch of animals at the zoo made out of ocean garbage
    " I agree that the use of pollution in the ocean is a great idea it is great for our eviroment and is a awesome sculpture. One reason I disagree is that many people come to zoos and so visitors may take the meaning of the sculpture the wrong way and may pollute more to see more sculpture if they really enjoyed the art. Another reason is that the debris picked up from the ocean can save s many life including endangered species. It says in the article ,"…who stands on a base of just the sort of entangled fishing gear that claims the lives of many ocean birds." , this shows that picking up waste scan print vent the deaths of many bird that many people like watch and study. A third reason is that with a cleaner earth humans and animals can live a happy life. There was 315 billion pounds of trash picked up this can mabeye raise the population a sea life witch maybe might raise the catch and erases rules of the DNR. Even though the art does cost a lot of money, I think that it is well worth it when you think about the future of the earths health.

  • emmab-cel
    8/29/2016 - 10:02 a.m.

    This is a good and new way to reach out to people about ocean trash. It shows us just how much trash we have. Its cool that someone can think of a new way to try to help these beautiful creatures before they die or are harmed.

  • metau-cel
    8/29/2016 - 10:38 a.m.

    Art can be both serious and playful because it usually has more than one meaning. Her trash art for example is full of bright colors and very interesting but has such a deep meaning. The art she created is so fun and seems to add life to the zoo, but it also represents the death of many animals and the hardship the ocean goes through from the trash dumped in the ocean.

  • johannaw-cel
    8/31/2016 - 11:11 a.m.

    I was really shocked when I read that we have over 315 billion pounds of garbage in our seas. So I think it was a really good idea from Angela Pozzi to create animals out of garbage from the seas to connect environmentalism with the art world. This kind of art has a message and it reaches people on the inside.
    We have to do something against the garbage, because it is not good for coral reefs and fishes, because the often eat the plastic accidently.
    This article shocked me, but it also gave me some hope, because the artist said, that they have created, in six years, 66 sculptures out of about 18 tons of garbage that came out of the seas . And there were only a few people picking it up. So what if we got many people around the world picking up garbage? Maybe we could pick up most of the garbage, but we also have to stop throwing garbage in the seas!

  • rosew-pel
    9/01/2016 - 09:31 a.m.

    This art is serious and playful because their is a serious issue that is going on but the zoo is still a zoo and they want it be a fun a exciting place to go.

  • jessicas-pel
    9/01/2016 - 09:34 a.m.

    The art is serious because it shows all the trash that is thrown in the ocean.It is playful because it big bright,colorful animals made from trash.

  • annac-pel
    9/01/2016 - 09:34 a.m.

    This art is both serious and playful because the art is made of ocean trash which shows what type of trash is in the ocean, also with the trash you can do art instead of tossing the trash in the ocean which can harm the animals.

  • blaisem-pel
    9/01/2016 - 09:34 a.m.

    It made out of garbage that kills the sea life but they made it look like a bird that is part of sea life.

  • coltonl-pel
    9/01/2016 - 09:37 a.m.

    It grabs your attention to the issue of ocean pollution and it has fun playful characters.

  • laurenw-pel
    9/01/2016 - 09:38 a.m.

    Because it informs you about the issue while being colorful and kid friendly

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