Sunday, February 9, 2014

What do Project Aware and Jack Johnson have in common?

Titled Plastic Ocean in honor of Charlie Moore's book
The traveling art show using plastics collected from the open-ocean and mid-ocean islands started out as just a simple idea.  Take the image of the Japanese art, The Great Wave of Kanagawa, and add the plastics I've collected from my research to illustrate what is now a very different ocean than what Katsushika Hokusai  saw when he created his art less than 200 years ago.  Not a very long time in planet years for humans to have physically change the composition of the sea.  But we have, and hence, the purpose of the art show.

This image launched the proposal to our UNCW campus art gallery that was accepted and then morphed into 25' of canvases. That was in 2011when it was displayed for a month in the Boseman Gallery.  While I was taking the exhibit down, the curator asked what I was going to do with it.  Without really thinking about it, I said, "I would like to take it around the country, you know, like the Memorial Aids Quilt."  Even I was shocked to hear that came out of my mouth.  I hadn't really thought about it, but after that, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  We just lacked the means necessary to make it happen.  It took two years, but the answer came after receiving an international grant from Project Aware.  

Our oceans though vast and furious, have become increasingly vulnerable to human impacts.  What many of us do not realize, nor did I until I started this research, is that half of the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean, fish is vital to many cultures for food as a main source of protein, and the health of that food chain relies on the health of the entire ecosystem, not just a select few.  And while we are fishing out billions of pounds of fish each year unsustainably, we are also competing with plastics that kill marine life from the apex predator down to the base at the microscopic level.  Fascinating that something humans started mass producing less than 100 years ago could be so proliferating.  

But it is not completely hopeless.  Thanks to Project Aware, actions around the world are being taken to improve these conditions in our oceans.  People in Fiji, Thailand, South Africa, and Peru all received funding from Project Aware that focus on marine life protection, like sharks and rays, to ocean cleanup projects both above and below the sea, and Plastic Ocean Project, covering the US bringing awareness to both the problems and solutions to plastic pollution.  

Like Project Aware, Jack Johnson is also putting dollars behind action with his campaign.  The Jack Johnson Foundation recognizes that individual actions by millions adds up to global change.  His foundation is matching donations to Plastic Ocean Project, Inc. (POP, Inc.) so every dollar donated is worth two that will supports our efforts to educate and motivate people to reduce their use of single use plastics an essential theme to the art exhibit, "What Goes Around, Come Around."

Bellamy Masion - 503 Market St. Wilmington, NC 28403
Awesome Project Aware and the Jack Johnson Foundation for paying it forward.  By doing so our dance card for the traveling art exhibit is starting to fill up.  Next weekend Sunday February 16, local friends of POP, Inc. can see the exhibit at the Bellamy Mansion downtown Wilmington from 1pm to 4pm.  The event is free and open to the public.  The irony of having our art exhibit at the mansion (a manmade structure that requires arguous effort to mantain and procure juxaposed with our plastic ocean trash that we cannot get rid of)  makes for an interesting conversation.

From there it travels to University of North Carolina February 22 to March 9th and will be on display for the Blue Heron Bowl (National Science Ocean Bowl) in Jordon Hall on March 1st, thank you Janelle Fleming for feature our art in this educational event.  I will be there for Q and A at noon.  Thanks to Barbara Prince, we will be touring New Jersey with day events from March 11th to March 13. (see below) with an extended stay at Rutger's University starting March 15th.  More details to follow and please help keep the show on the road by donating to the Plastic Ocean Project,Inc.  With every dollar donated, the Jack Johnson Fundraiser will match it up to $2,500. 

11TH Tues afternoon
12:30 Johnson Elementary, Cherry Hill, NJ

12th Wednesday:
8:30 AM Urban Promise, Pennsauken 
1:15Kingston School, Cherry Hill
7:00 PM Camden County Environmental Center, Cherry Hill 

13th Thursday:
9:00 AM Haddon Heights, tentative
1:00 PM: VanSciver Elementary School
7:00 PM Scout Night/tentative
Haddon Township Environmental Center

But the art exhibit is only one small part of what POP, Inc. provides. Through our education program at UNCW, joint collaboration with toxicologists, oceanographers, marine scientists, and non-profits, we are gaining momentum.  And that momentum would not be possible without the support and guidence from our president Paul Lorenzo and point contact Tricia Monteleone.   POP, Inc has been morphing over the past five years and our team of visionaries believe, If we can walk on the moon, we can clean up the plastic ocean through outreach, technology, industry, and international leadership.  We do not think small.