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
Lexile: 1070L

Assign to Google Classroom

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, 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. 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, whose parents were artists. She 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. 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. Think of it both as some of the drawings of Wol from "Winnie the Pooh" and as 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," Pozzi 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 that all 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 oceans, 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 are being threatened globally by surging ocean temperatures. The coral are not only animals, but they also are habitats. 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?"

Source URL:

Filed Under:  
Assigned 68 times
How is this art both serious and playful?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • jacksonh-bla
    9/15/2016 - 01:14 p.m.

    I think it is amazing that people in the world are doing things like this. It shows that some people in the world care about our environment, more than just environmentalist. People really need to stop putting their trash in other organisms habitats, how would you feel if some stranger came into your house and put trash and hazardous materials everywhere? The idea of making trash into art is a great idea, it supports recycling and not littering.

  • azane-wim4
    9/16/2016 - 12:09 p.m.

    I think it is so cool that someone is raising awareness of litter in oceans through their art. Being an artist myself, I am very supportive of Angela Pozzi's work. Not only are the massive structures gorgeous, they also help the ocean by ridding it of trash. I hope that I can change the world in a positive way just like Angela Pozzi.

  • rlogs-wim5
    9/16/2016 - 01:16 p.m.

    According to Angela Pozzi, her sculptures have different personalities and she says that "Sebastian James the Puffin" is, "Very dignified like my dad," which gives a sense of playfulness. It's also playful because her artwork is taking in all of the points that scientists are trying to get across and she's putting them together and speaking through her artwork to tell people how big of an issue it is. It's serious because having trash in our oceans that is KILLING the ocean life is a big problem, that we, as a community, need to fix.

  • hunterb-pav
    9/19/2016 - 09:58 a.m.

    It's a shock of how much garbage is found in the ocean by people and so many animals can die from all of these people littering in the ocean. I really like how the people are collecting garbage from the ocean and making it an art at zoos.

  • cheyl-orv
    9/22/2016 - 02:20 p.m.

    i think this a great and creative way to use the garbage on the earth. it also is a great way to help the earth.

  • ialexis-dav
    9/22/2016 - 04:28 p.m.

    In response to "There's a bunch of animals at the zoo made out of garbage," I agree that the oceans deadliest predator is trash. One reason I agree is that birds and other sea animals mistake plastic trash for food, and then either get stuck in it or die because of it. Another reason is that even though it is playful, it is very serious. It says in the article "The exhibition reflects on the more than 315 billion pounds of plastics that litter oceans, according to a zoo release." If that's the amount of trash it reflects for pounds of plastic, how much is it in all, with the microwaves, car keys, and eyeglasses? . A third reason is that garbage shouldn't be in the ocean anyway. If people are that careless, they should think about what an animal would go through when they get caught in the piece of trash that they through out the window or let be blown down the beach by the wind. If they were that animal, they would be scared and confused at what was going on. Even though there is a small group of people that care for the ocean, I think that everyone on the planet should care and stop throwing their trash in the ocean, or anywhere.

  • brittanyj-lew
    10/11/2016 - 03:33 p.m.

    There are so many problems with trash in oceans. It is so facinating to see someone do something so unique and creative with all of it. It helps out all the sea animals and is very cool to look at.

  • ahill-wim5
    10/21/2016 - 01:01 p.m.

    The serious side of this art is that it spreads an important message. Millions of animals are being killed by trash in the ocean, and the animal art is made of trash in the ocean. This tells the zoo visitors how much trash is really being thrown into the ocean. Pozzi puts the trash to good use, instead of throwing it away. The art is 'playful' because the animals are made of trash. It's a little funny how Pozzi decided to do this art, and convey the message to people this way. She uses a unique way to help the environment, that makes people smile.

  • aylak-lam
    11/23/2016 - 02:25 p.m.

    Many people are careless with their trash and much of it ends up in the ocean. Animals don't know any better and start to eat it. This is a big reason why many ocean animals are dying. These trash sculptures can show people a very small portion of just how much trash is thrown away in the ocean. The sculptures are also a colorful addition to the zoo!

  • logank2-smi
    2/13/2017 - 02:47 p.m.

    Because it shows how much we litter and how bad we treat the ocean.And it is playful because it is trash and we made it into "beautiful" peaces of art work.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment