On exhibit for the first time in the Washington, D.C. region, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in partnership with Friends of the National Zoo, presents “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea” from May 27 through September 5. Made completely of plastic debris collected from beaches, the colorful and dramatic sculptures of marine animals represent the more than 315 billion pounds of plastic in oceans today and underscore the need for wildlife conservation. Admission to the Zoo and this exhibit is free.
Under the leadership of Angela Haseltine Pozzi, lead artist and executive director, Washed Ashore Project volunteers clean beaches and process the debris into art supplies. To date, thousands of volunteers have processed an estimated 18 tons of garbage collected from more than 300 miles of coastline to create 68 sculptures. Pozzi orchestrates the construction of these towering, striking sculptures of marine life. Each sculpture was created using hundreds of individual pieces, from flip-flops and bottle caps to nylon rope, Styrofoam, and lighters.
Surf your way through the Zoo to get up close and personal with Zora Belle the rockhopper penguin, Flash the brilliant blue marlin, Priscilla the colorful parrot fish, and many more larger-than-life sculptures installed along the Zoo’s Olmsted Walk, in the Visitor’s Center and in Amazonia. To see for yourself animals affected by waste walk down to the Zoo’s American Trail. There you’ll meet Tinkerbell, the Zoo’s brown pelican. In 2001, off the coast of Florida, Tinkerbell found herself entangled in plastic fishing line. Her wings were sliced by the line, destroying crucial ligaments needed to fly. Although she can never fly again, she was lucky to be rescued. Most of her fellow marine animals aren’t so lucky.
“I basically believe people are good,” said Pozzi. “Everybody loves the ocean. Nobody wants to hurt it. I needed to bring ocean debris to them in a way that they’d want to see the sculptures and get their pictures taken next to them and tell everybody about them. This is about reaching everybody.”
What can you do? First, you can visit the Zoo and experience the Washed Ashore exhibit. Then you can spread the word! For tips you can use right now, and to learn more about Washed Ashore, visit www.fonz.org/washedashore.
“Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea” at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is generously supported by Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, The Change Happens Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, Covanta, CustomInk, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, MGM National Harbor, NBC4, Joseph Regenstein III, Sodexo, Nixon Peabody LLP, Norman F. Sprague Jr. Foundation, SunTrust Foundation, WAMU 88.5, The Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine and Wild Rivers Coast Alliance.
Join Friends of the National Zoo as we celebrate World Oceans Day on Saturday, June 11. The event will feature a variety of activities, crafts, games, and demonstrations celebrating ocean health and conservation. Learn what you can do to protect oceans in your everyday life, and find out what Smithsonian scientists are doing to support ocean conservation at this free, family-friendly event.