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. It 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. These details are noted on a label beside the sculpture.
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. She 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. You can even see car keys. The works have their feet firmly planted in both environmental activism and the art world.
Louise Nevelson is a sculptor who created artworks from discarded New York trash. She is an inspiration for Pozzi. 

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 opened. It is titled, "Washed Ashore: Art to Save The Sea." It is 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 but also an astonishing naturalism.
Pozzi considers her past. 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. "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, scientists applaud her work for its ability to raise awareness. It happens in a way that the scientists 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 oceans. This is according to a zoo release. The announcement refers to the pollution as "the ocean's deadliest predator -- trash."
Mary Hagedorn is a Smithsonian marine biologist and senior research scientist. She works at the zoo's Conservation Biology Institute. She is using fertility clinic techniques used for humans to save coral reefs.
Coral reefs are being threatened globally by surging ocean temperatures. The coral are not only animals, but they also are habitats.
"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.
Hagedorn says coral 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. It happened precisely because they were thought to have outlived their usefulness. In her sculptures, however, they experience a transformation. And Pozzi 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. She noted 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

  • belindav-stu
    9/29/2016 - 12:53 p.m.

    cool how do they put the trash together

  • dianah1-stu
    9/29/2016 - 01:14 p.m.

    I dont get the reason you would take trash from the ocean and build it into statuse of the anamils that the garbage harms.the trash people leave in and on the ocean harms the sea life and posibly even killing them.

  • emmah1-stu
    9/29/2016 - 03:04 p.m.

    I like this art because it is making a statement in art and showing the things that people put in the ocean, and how they are polluting it. I love this sentence "The works have their feet firmly planted in both environmental activism and the art world.", because it sums up the article. I think this is cool and inspiring, and I would love to see it. I was also very suprised when I saw that there are more than 135 billion pounds of plastic in the oceans. I hope that in the future we can figure out a way to put less trash in the ocean. Making art out of trash is a great way to recycle and make some really cool art.

  • zoed-stu
    9/29/2016 - 06:32 p.m.

    This is interesting. People making sculptures out of trash and it is still very very amazing. We need for people to be doing this all over the world.

  • mathews-stu
    9/30/2016 - 12:59 p.m.

    pretty cool

  • jilianej-stu
    10/04/2016 - 08:13 a.m.

    There is many reasons that they should put them somewhere else on the streets. They are so buetiful and cool. I just wonder how they get all that garbage from the sea!

  • bryced-stu
    10/04/2016 - 09:48 a.m.

    animals are cool but in the water that is garge in the water that is making the animals sick.

  • delaneyg-stu
    10/04/2016 - 10:46 a.m.

    This is so cool.It is finding a way to recycle and it is so pretty.When kids go to see this they will see that when they recycle they can be helping make such an awesome thing.This not only is fun to look at, but it is also helping the sea animals.This is also kinda sad to see that this is how much garbage pollutes the ocean.

  • sethn-stu
    10/04/2016 - 11:28 a.m.

    i think people should stop littering in ocean!!!!!

  • paigek-stu
    10/04/2016 - 02:04 p.m.

    I think that it is cool that they are taking the trash from places and making things out of them.

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