The Norfolk Botanical Garden has always been a leader in caring for the environment. That’s why they’ve brought in Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea to help educate the community on the detrimental impact that plastics have on sea life. The art display, running from now until October 31st, contains 15 large models of marine life ranging from an octopus to a puffin. The sculptures were all created from plastic found on beaches.
Washed Ashore is a nonprofit that is working to save the oceans and waterways from plastic marine debris. Since the non-profit’s inception in 2010, they’ve created over 80 sculptures, hosted 300 miles of beach cleanups, and collected 26 tons of debris. Volunteers pick up trash from the beach and drop it off at the Washed Ashore facility. Once the sculptures are built to completion by volunteers, they travel the country as part of an educational exhibit, ending up in aquariums, museums, science centers, and zoos.
The art is bright and colorful, making it fun for kids and photo-ops. Not just for looks: there’s a more profound message below the surface that brings to light the grave danger that discarded plastics continue to present in our ocean ecosystems. An exclusive eagle, crafted out of debris from coastal Virginia and holding a menhaden in its talons, will arrive later this summer.
Angela Hazeltine Pozzi, the founder of the Washed Ashore, has made it her life’s work to raise awareness through art on pollution in the oceans. After losing her husband to a stroke, Angela knew that she needed to relocate near the sea.
She walked the beach daily and was disturbed by the amount of pollution and plastics she saw. “I’d realized I’d come to the ocean to be healed, but I found an ocean that needed healing,” said Angela.
After some research, she learned from the World Economic Forum that by the year 2050, there could be more plastics by weight in the oceans than fish. Research indicates there are microplastics the size of plankton. “Every single animal in the ocean has been touched by plastic,” she says. These facts deeply bothered her, so she decided to take her talents to educate and raise awareness on the issue. In six months, she and others in her community had created their first show, and they’ve taken it on the road ever since.
Angela hopes that her art will inspire us to look at our role in the issue of ocean pollution. “It’s important that people understand how big the problem is, but I want them to think about what they can do today,” explained Angela. Every sign throughout the exhibit contains a section with things people can do every day to make a difference for future generations.
The exhibit opened at the Garden on June 5th and will continue to run until October 31st. NBG is working closely with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as the environmental partner for this event.
The Norfolk Botanical Garden is asking its attendees to take small steps toward change. Their pledge involves things like bringing your own reusable bags to shop, refraining from plastic straws and other utensils, and avoiding bottled water.
This exhibit is made possible by The Batten Family Educational Achievement Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.
Click the links below to learn more about all the work Washed Ashore is doing on Facebook or Instagram: