Wordle of Blog

Wordle: Art from Plastic Pollution

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pam Longobardi - The Drifters Project

Macro of Wall Display © 2009 Wayne Sentman
I was fortunate to have been introduced to Pam Longobardi through friends who were working on conservation projects in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands now the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Pam and I started working on a  grant proposal for NOAA geared towards increasing grassroots beach clean-ups efforts in the main Hawaiian islands and on Midway Atoll with production of interpretive art projects. It was hoped that these art projects would both attract more segments of the communities to participate in beach clean up efforts and at the same time serve as focal points to educate the public about the impacts of marine pollution. While were we not successful in this first effort it formed the groundwork for our continued collaboration and association with a larger group of professional artists that were also exploring the theme of marine pollution through art. Pam has been doing this for quite sometime now. In the 2000's Pam started a project that she calls "The Drifters Project." Pam describes that project as "My current project Drifters focuses on the global issue of marine debris and plastics in the ocean. I have been working on installations and public artworks that address the interconnectedness of the land and sea, between humans and the ocean biosphere. My work has a strong environmental focus that has come to the foreground as awareness of climate change, extinction and human impact has become more urgent. The Drifters works include sculptural wall and floor installations and site photography to contextualize the origin of the object materials. I collected the material in these works as it washed in from the Pacific Basin onto the South Point of Hawaii, the southernmost part of the United States. The currents transport and mix the debris into a colony of drifters that temporarily alight and gather on the beaches awaiting the next hurricane, tidal shift or big swell. I was both amazed and shocked by the visual impact of the astonishing array of marine debris I encountered.
South Point, Hawaii © 2007 Pam Longobardi

The ocean functions symbolically as the unconscious of the world. It is the great ‘formless.’ The regurgitating ocean now spews forth all manner of plastic materiality. I believe this artwork can function to raise awareness and transform behavior, while providing a provocative visual delight."

Pam has been selected to show her "Drifters" art at a variety of International locations including in Beijing at NY ARTS/Beijing during the 2008 Olympics and at ARTLIFEfortheworld in Venice for the 2009 Venice Biennale ARTE VISIVI collateral exhibitions. And more recently  She has a book published by Edizione CHARTA (Milan, NY) called  Drifters: Plastics, Pollution and Personhood.
Click on link to purchase

 Carl Safina (a prominent ecologist and marine conservationist, and president of  Blue Ocean Institute) who writes the Forward for the book says: "Longobardi's work is no mere attempt at creating pretty decoration from found objects. Her work is witness, and in it we share. She gives us a wakeup call, a call to action, a call for change. Her work is art. And the work that art must do is to steer our attention into the path of the oncoming truth. As you’re about to see." 

Pam is currently a professor of Art at Georgia State University. She and I worked together this last 8 months, organizing an officially sponsored marine debris art exhibit for the 5th International Marine Debris Conference taking place on the 20 - 25 March, in Honolulu, Hawaii. This conference is a combined effort of NOAA and the United Nations Environmental Programme. It will bring together members of Federal, International and non-profit organizations, as well as scientists, media, and concerned citizens from around the world to investigate the problems we all face related to marine pollution and its increasing accumulation in the worlds oceans. Pam's art will be featured in the conference exhibit entitled  "The Sixth Gyre: Art, Oceans, and Plastic Pollution" this exhibit will be located at the Waikiki Beach Marriott in the Oahu Room and is open to the public during the week on the conference. In addition Pam will also be joined by Susan Middleton, Andrew McNaughton, and myself at an Ocean Conservancy Art & Wine Reception where we will all briefly talk about the role of art in interpreting environmental issues. The three artists will also have more of their art on display for the 300 to 400 conference attendees at the reception.
"Shipwreck (Unintended Consequences,)"
Found marine debris, wire mesh, silicone
Installed in Panthalassa, Artlife Gallery, Venice, Italy

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