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

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?"

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


COMMENTS (28)
  • bkyle-dav
    8/25/2016 - 05:19 p.m.

    In the response to "There's a bunch of animals at the zoo made out of ocean garbage," I agree that she is making sculptures out of ocean garbage. One reason I agree with her is because garbage is really for the ocean and Pozzi put it to good use instead of throwing it away. I really care about the ocean so if I could I would've helped Pozzi with her work. Another reason is that when she puts her sculptures in zoo's and stuff for fun also according to the article,"It has to be good art. Or else it won't send the message,"so she sending an important message in her work by showing how much trash is thrown in the ocean by the size of her sculptures and how many she makes. A third reason is that she is trying to save all the ocean life by making her creations because there are over 315 million pounds of plastic that litter the ocean and kills lots of ocean life. Even though things seem pretty hard for the ocean now, I still think we can make a change and make the ocean litter free once again.

  • smartina-dav
    8/25/2016 - 07:00 p.m.

    In response to "There's A Bunch Of Animals At The Zoo Made Out Of Ocean Garbage" I agree that making statues out of garbage not only recyclables, but also helps spread knowledge of how much garbage is been thrown into the ocean. Along with the statues there is an explanation about how birds, turtles, and many other marine animals often confuse plastic for food. This is also more effective that normal data because it catches the peoples' attention, "And you have to make them care and you have to get their attention," she says. Even though some people might think is a wast of time, I think that it is a unique way to help the environment.

  • vmargaret-dav
    8/25/2016 - 07:01 p.m.

    In response to "There's a bunch of animals at the zoo made out of ocean garbage," I disagree that they should make sculptures out of the garbage they picked up. One reason I disagree is that when they are making sculptures with the trash they picked up, they could be recycling some of it. Another reason is that in the future the sculpture might've turned into a pile of trash. It says in the article ""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.)" A third reason is that the boot they used could be recycled at a shoe store and provide somebody a pair of shoes. Even though art is worth money, I think you would save more money by just recycling.

  • bolivia-dav
    8/25/2016 - 08:34 p.m.

    In response to "There is 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 there are 315 pounds of plastics that liter the ocean, that could harm a lot of animals. Another reason is that birds can mistaken trash for food which can harm them internally and externally. It says in the article that, "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?" A third reason is that even thought the sculptures are pretty they mean something. The object used to make the sculptures discarded irresponsibly into the ocean. Even thought people leave their garbage to the ocean all the time, I think people should throw it away properly to prevent this kind of problem forever.

  • charliet-orv
    8/26/2016 - 11:28 a.m.

    It shows how there is garbage in the ocean but the art is cool.

  • jahir-orv
    8/28/2016 - 03:43 p.m.

    This is actually in some ways good for the environment because you cant just leave your garbage in the ocean.

  • tylere1-moo
    8/30/2016 - 09:15 a.m.

    I did not no you can Mack stuff from trash

  • austinh-rhi
    8/31/2016 - 08:49 a.m.

    Someone could have died in the ocean.The used materials from the ocean.The made a sculpture of garbage into animals.

  • quentinh-rhi
    8/31/2016 - 08:49 a.m.

    It is serious because the trash could have killed the animals in the sea. Also it is playful because people made animals out of the trash. I think it was a good idea because it saved the sea animals.

  • hannahg-rhi
    8/31/2016 - 08:51 a.m.

    Because it helps the environment and gives guest something colorful to look at.The color also gives kids stuff to picture about things.It helps keep animals in the ocean safe and guests something cool to see when they come to the zoo.

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