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Voyage of Discovery

April 21, 2014

I am thrilled to be one of three artists who collaborated on Voyage of Discovery, an exhibition on display at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) from January 21 through May 31, 2014, (1200 New York Ave, NW, DC, near Metro Center). The show addresses issues of climate change and melting sea ice in an imagined polar environment.  Michele Banks, Ellyn Weiss, and I made mostly new work for this show, each producing our own series of pieces as well as two collaborative works.  See a video about our collaborative process and the creative journey to the show here, and also please visit my art website’s blog for more information about the show in general.  

What I want to talk about here, since this is the Beyond Garbage blog, is the collaborative piece called Core Drill Spill.

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Core Drill Spill comprises three columns, representing the layers through which sample ice cores have been removed.  We wanted to use recycled plastic bags, in part because of the plastic in the growing ocean garbage patches as well as plastic’s contribution to global warming and climate change in general. Each column contains about 60 layers, made from approximately 10 – 15 bags per layer. We accumulated the bags ourselves (used, for the most part), sometimes painting or drawing on the surfaces before ironing them between layers of parchment paper, just to the point of fusing, to make the stiff patterned sheet approximately 1 ft x 1 ft. We incorporated newspaper sleeves, supermarket bags, garbage bags, and anything else that was clean enough and sturdy enough to use.

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When we decided to make three columns, we realized that we were going to need many more bags than we already had.  So we reached out to the staff at AAAS to collect used bags for the project and they really came through!  

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We finished the columns by stacking the layers on plexiglass tubes stabilized on bases so that they are freestanding and the space between the layers allows viewers to glimpse the fused surfaces.  The “Core” and “Drill” columns are mostly white, with blue and green reflecting the colors of sea ice.  “Spill” has extra black layers (conveniently made from black garbage bags) at the bottom and spills over the floor at the base, commenting on the probability of oil spills resulting from opening the arctic waters up for oil exploration now that the melting sea ice has made navigation safer and easier.

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