“Greta the Great White Shark,” one of six huge sculptures of sea life from a project titled Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea, is seen at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
NEW ORLEANS – Huge sculptures of sea life dot the New Orleans Aquarium and Zoo, all made from plastic waste washed up on shore. There’s a great white shark made partly out of bottle caps and beach toys and a jellyfish made partly out of cut-up water bottles.
The artwork, which is part of a project called Washed Ashore: The Art of Saving the Sea, is the brainchild of Angela Haseltine Pozzi, who started making the parts after seeing plastic piled up by the waves on the southern Oregon coast. Pozzi was in Bandon, where her grandparents had lived, mourning the death of her first husband.
Angela Haseltine Pozzi, from Bandon, Oregon, describes her project Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
“I have known its beaches all my life,” she said. “I went to the ocean to heal and found that the ocean needed healing.”
She wants the scale of her designs to make people understand how much plastic is pouring into the ocean – and act on that knowledge. Signs next to each room suggest simple ways to reduce the problem, such as not using plastic straws, reusing water bottles and picking up other people’s trash.
Elizabeth Torres, with her husband Cory Torres, takes a photo of their children, Madelyn “Mattie” Torres, 2, and Jackson Torres, 5, in the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
“Each trash collected and properly disposed of is a piece that will not cause harm to local environments and animals,” reads the “Greta the Great White Shark” sign.
Pozzi’s goal is “beautiful and somewhat horrifying” art.
An army of volunteers in Oregon — about 10,000 since Pozzi began in 2010 — helps her collect, prepare, and assemble beach trash into art. One of their plastic sinks is a bathtub which is also found on the beach.
“Greta the Great White Shark,” one of six sculptures made from marine litter as part of a project called “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea” at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
She now has over 70 pieces in three exhibitions that are currently traveling in the United States and have requests from abroad. Her work has been exhibited in zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens, and she has permanent exhibits at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and a gallery in Bandon.
“Flash the Marlin” appears to leap from a fountain in the lobby of the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas currently features six sculptures, while a puffin is on display at the Audubon Zoo; more rooms will be added to both locations in October.
In addition to the shark and two jellyfish sculptures, there is a whale ribcage made from bucket lids, bottles, buoys and bait traps; a marlin with a beak made of fishing rods; and punchy “Musical Seaweed”. The long leaves of this statue include metal and plastic bottle caps strung on wires so that they vibrate when a leaf is lightly touched.
Plastic bottles and jugs floating on a West Coast beach make up a large part of a whale rib sculpture at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
Robert and Lauryn Geosits of Mandeville, Louisiana were visiting with their three children.
“It’s a great idea for people to visualize the amount of trash in the ocean,” said Lauryn Geosits.
Her husband read from a sign while their baby slept in a stroller and Chelsea, 7, and Preston, 8, searched the shark for the objects he named: ‘There’s a bumper car, bottle caps, beach toys, a lighter…”
Angela Haseltine Pozzi, of Bandon, Ore., describes her Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea project at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans as she stands in front of a giant jellyfish sculpture made from fishing buoys and cut-up water bottles washed up on the Pacific coast. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
Asked about the weirdest piece she’s used, Pozzi said, “When you’ve turned over 21 tons of debris into over 70 works of art, you’ve pretty much seen it all.”
“One of the most shocking are the bleach bottles that have fish bite marks on them,” Pozzi said.
“Flash the Marlin” at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
An all-plastic fish bitten fish is among the pieces to be added in October.
Most of the pieces destined for New Orleans this fall are on display at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, including a river otter, seahorse and clownfish in an anemone.
Connor Aikman, 4, of Sioux Falls, SD, looks at a jellyfish statue at the American Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
“We are very sad to see them go, as they have been so successful,” said Tynnetta Qaiyim, vice president of planning and design at Shedd.
She said the response has been far beyond what she expected, both in the number of photos customers have posted on social media and in increased conservation awareness.
Andrew Caldera, of San Antonio, lifts his daughter Jianna, 5, so she can bang a high clink sheet of a sculpture called “Musical Seaweed” at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
Qaiyim had thought the exhibit might be more interesting for coastal residents, but said it also connects Midwesterners to the Great Lakes.
“People are talking about plastics, the Great Lakes and waterways in ways that we were hoping for but not really sure would happen,” she said.
(AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)
In New Orleans, the sculptures are in various locations and will remain in place until April.
” Looked ! A jellyfish ! A jellyfish ! Elliot Harold de Chalmette screamed as he approached a staircase under one of Pozzi’s creations.
“It’s the one thing he loves all day,” said his grandmother, Gera Mendel.
— The Associated Press