Recycled art installation focuses on ocean health

Recycled art installation focuses on ocean health

Sophia Collins, right, completed her senior project, “Plastic Ocean,” with the help of her mentor, Chelsae Biggs. The piece was made to raise awareness of plastic in the oceans, and the importance of reusable and recyclable products. (Breeze photos by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SCITUATE – With some towns now implementing bans on plastic bags and straws, Scituate High School senior Sophia Collins created an interactive, 3D art installation titled “Plastic Ocean” to show her classmates how the ocean may appear in the future.

Collins, 17, collected various recyclable plastics, such as straws and water bottles, and used them to mimic an underwater ocean scene in a commentary on the treatment of the world’s oceans. The installation ran Jan. 11-18.

She completed the project with the help of her mentor and violin teacher, Chelsae Biggs, who owns and operates the Utopian Collection. The store features re-purposed and up-cycled products, with inspiration drawn from the ocean.

Using recycled art supplies including mesh fabric, paint and tinsel, the pair created fish and jellyfish from plastic bottles, sea turtle silhouettes, and spiraling seaweed hung from the glass ceiling.

“It’s interactive. It’s alive,” Biggs said.

Biggs said the team used as few un-recyclable plastic products as possible.

“My goal was to show people that if you don’t take better care of our oceans, this is what our ocean will look like,” Collins said.

The art acted as her senior project, and was installed in the school’s breezeway, which has an underwater scene painted on the walls already.

Teachers and students passed through the breezeway, stopping to look at fact bubbles on the walls:

• There are more micro-plastics in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.

• 1 million seabirds are killed by ingesting plastics each year.

• 14 billion pounds of garbage are dumped into the ocean each year.

• By the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

Collins said she collected straws from her job at a coffee shop in Providence, very quickly gathering hundreds of them. Part of her inspiration for the project was the YouTube video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose that went viral this year.

“We’ve really got to do something about straws. We’ve got to stop making so much plastic. I know it’s useful for many things, but one-time use plastic ware and straws are not sustainable,” Biggs said.

She said the reaction from students has been positive, and began more conversations than she expected.

Collins said straws are often not recyclable, and suggested using reusable bamboo or metal straws instead. She said other ways to prevent plastic garbage from littering the oceans include using reusable shopping bags and water bottles.

Growing up in a “recycle conscious” home, Collins said her father often talked to her about the positive impacts of recycling.

“Any little thing can help save our oceans,” she said.

Collins says she would like to study literature in college.

A plastic bottle with a shiny gauze head and tinsel tentacles hangs from the ceiling at Scituate High School as part of senior Sophia Collins’ installation, “Plastic Ocean.”