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Wordle: Art from Plastic Pollution

Friday, June 7, 2013

The GYRE Expedition and Exhibit - Marine Debris as Material and Message

Today the Alaska Sea Life Center in cooperation with others will send an international team of scientists, artists, and educators out on an expedition to explore the impacts of one of the most prolific cultural artifacts of our modern age, plastic pollution. The expedition will study the global problem of marine pollution using the southwest part of Alaska as their laboratory. This expedition was the vision of Howard Ferren and he will serve as the expedition leader. I had the opportunity to meet Howard at the 5th International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu in March of 2011, and visited him and his wife at their home in Seward, Alaska later in the year. Howard is a dedicated individual who for many months has worked tirelessly to bring forth his vision (read fund) of blending the interpretive talents of artists and scientists to illuminate the problems resulting from marine pollution to a wider public audience. It is through his efforts that a collaboration of organizations and individuals has been built to realize this expedition.  His vision also included a post-expedition Marine Debris Art Exhibit that will be curated and hosted by the co-sponsor, the Anchorage Museum.

A short video that explains the Expedition concept can be viewed here:

The lead scientist for the Expedition will be Carl Safina, of the Blue Ocean Institute. Carl is a wonderful choice as he is both an accomplished scientist and an eloquent artist as his many books on marine conservation issues will attest to. Pam Longobardi an artist that has been featured in this blog will be one of the 4 artists that participates in the expedition phase of the Gyre project. Pam has been working with marine debris for over 20 years now, and her art has been exhibited internationally. Pam is currently one of the 4 finalists for the $50,000 Visual Arts Hudgens Prize.

Here are just a few examples of her marine debris art;

Ghosts of Consumption by Pam Longobardi, 2012, media: found ocean plastic, steel pins, silicone

Pam has been working alongside Howard to put together a diverse group of international artists that will be collecting marine pollution throughout the expedition. The collected items will be catalogued during the expedition and many of these items will be presented in the Exhibition phase of the project. In addition to the 4 artists taking part in the expedition an additional 16 artists have been invited to contribute to the exhibition which will be exhibited at the Anchorage Museum on February through September 2014. After this initial showing the GYRE exhibit will be repackaged for traveling by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services and will tour museums across the United States.

The photographer for the expedition is Kip Evans. Kip has been working in the marine conservation field for over 20 years. Since 2008 he has worked with Dr. Sylvia Earle serving as director of photography and expeditions for her Mission Blue Hope Spots part of the Sylvia Earle Alliance.

R/V Norseman
The GYRE expedition will be conducted aboard the R/V Norseman. The R/V Norseman is a 108-ft. well appointed ship that has been recently (2005) converted to a full research and exploration platform. The GYRE team should be able to fully explore the southwest Alaska coastline where they will observe, document, and collect shoreline marine pollution.

I hope that you will follow this expedition as it explores the Kenai Peninsula and beyond, here the expedition members will bear witness to the enormity of the global problem of plastic waste that plagues our oceans.

GYRE Website
The Anchorage Museum
The Alaska SeaLife Center
Marine Debris Overview – Blue Ocean Institute
GYRE – Marine Debris Fact Sheet