More than just a Pretty Picture: Art Students Combat Plastic Pollution

Hello! It’s Kara Salinas, Spare Parts artist/educator writing about Margaret Bennett’s advanced art classroom participation in Spare Parts’ #Take5forSA project. Ms. Bennett at Brackenridge High School in San Antonio Independent School District. These students created reuse art for Spare Parts #Take5forSA, which is a month long online residency created by founder Mary Elizabeth Cantu that invites the public to reimagine trash by creative reuse. This is how it works: five pieces of trash are found daily for a month, picked up and then creatively reimagined into something new to encourage a more trash aware public. Here is the #Take5forSA project by local artist Laurel Gibson. Kimberly Garza, artist, also partook in #Take5forSA.

Ms. Bennett contacted Spare Parts after an online search about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch guided her class to our website. These students learned about Spare Parts’ visit to Hawaii and decided to focus their annual classroom project on making art to promote awareness about the devastation of ocean pollution. 

Spare Parts artist/educator presents about “Spare Parts Crosses the Pacific” with our founder Mary Elizabeth Cantu to Ms. Bennett’s advanced art students at Brackenridge High School. Students learned about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and were informed about organizations such as Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. 
Brackenridge High School students in Ms. Bennett’s advanced art class began work on their large installation sculptures for their exhibit titled “Seasick.” This tentacle, a work in progress at the time of this picture, is filled with newspapers and plastic bags. The concept for this sculpture came from Brackenridge High School student Andrew Gonzales, 11th grade. Also pictured, an information display developed to educate the campus about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
 
Left: five pieces of found litter: a plastic utensil, gum wrapper, plastic bag, fruit wrapper and a plastic spring. Right: five pieces of litter reimagined by creative reuse into a seahorse by Brackenridge High School student Olivia Wilkerson-Carter, 11th grade
Bottom and top right: five pieces of found litter. Here: plastic forks, hair elastic, plastic hook and scrap metal.  Top left: five pieces of litter reimagined by creative reuse into a horse by Brackenridge High School student Jorge Reyes, 11th grade. #Take5forSA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brackenridge High School students participating in our #Take5forSA project rose to the occasion and participated beach cleanup with their art teacher Ms. Bennett. They planned a trip to take part in the 2018 Texas Adopt-A-Beach Winter Beach Cleanup in the Coastal Bend Area, which took place on Saturday, February 10, 2018. Students found several plastic toys, nets, ropes and shoes during the South Padre Island beach cleanup. These findings would further inspire all as they worked on their upcoming exhibit “Seasick,” which would open at Brackenridge High School, 400 Eagleland Drive, on April 5, 2018.

Top left and right: student-found beach litter on the Texas Coast such as plastic toys, a marble, plastic bottle cap and a plastic comb. Bottom and right: Beach cleanup team featuring Brackenridge H.S. student Litzi Rojas,12th grade, who is holding the yellow collection bag, and Ms. Bennett’s advanced art students attending the 2018 Texas Adopt-A-Beach Winter Beach Cleanup on Saturday, February 10, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Seasick,” curated by Margaret Bennett, consists of a variety of student art works created by those participating in our #Take5forSA Instagram-based project. These works of art are created with trash found in and around their campus, and also from their February beach cleanup. Ms. Bennett and her students are inspired by Jack Johnson’s music, which she played in her classroom art studio. He is a musician and an environmental activist; their exhibit “Seasick” is a tribute to his song “Seasick Dream.” “Seasick” features art works such as sculpture, stop motion video, assemblage, repoussé and performance art.

“Plastic bag monster” performance art, worn by Brackenridge High School student Gabe Woltz, 12th grade, during “Seasick” art exhibition.
Top middle photo: Margaret Bennett (l) talking with Spare Parts artist/educator Laurel Bodinus (r) during “Seasick” reception at Brackenridge High School on April 5, 2018 curated by art teacher Margaret Bennett.

Since the opening of  “Seasick” the response from attendees are very positive.

“My husband and I were really blown away by the exhibit. It was so
colorful and imaginative. You could tell the students took this project to
heart by creating such a striking display. To think these art pieces used a
teeny, tiny fraction of the trash and plastic pollution in our oceans made
an impact on the artists and audience as well. This show should travel!”
-Laura Carter, President Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors

Feedback from participating Brackenridge High School students in #Take5forSA have been positive, too.

“The trip allowed me to physically see the effects of plastic and pollution
on the environment, and has since increased my interest in solving the
problem in the future. So once again thank you, because we couldn’t
have done it without your help.”
-Elizabeth De Hoyos, Brackenridge H.S., 12th grade

“It was a learning experience for us all. It allowed me to see that our
actions do have consequences, but it is not too late to fix what we have
wronged. ”
-Olivia Wilkerson-Carter, Brackenridge H.S., 12th grade

To view the stop motion animated shorts from “Seasick” please click here.

Spare Parts Crosses The Pacific

Kara Michele Salinas

Aloha y’all!

by Kara Michele Salinas, Artist & Spare Parts Educator

Spare Parts travelled to Hawaii October 31-November 6, 2017 to learn first-hand about the poisoning our planet’s oceans due to plastic pollution, and meet organizations on Oahu devoted to tackling this crisis. This is an issue important to me, my family and my art and design practice. I knew that what we experienced would directly benefit Spare Parts’ body of knowledge and in turn increase environmental educational awareness in San Antonio.

Our vision: through programing, education and physical development, Spare Parts empowers citizens to reduce landfill tonnage through reuse and environmental accountability.

Our Spare Parts autumn adventure began with a flight from Austin, Texas to Honolulu, Hawaii. Mary Cantu, founder of Spare Parts, and I brought the Latin American-rooted celebration of Dia de Los Muertos to the eco-friendly organization Art Explorium. The relationship between Spare Parts and Art Explorium began four years ago when we were contacted for programming guidance. Read this blog posting by Laura Carter. Carter followed up with Art Explorium two years later in 2015.

The first full day in Hawaii Mary and I installed a Dia de Los Muertos Altar at Art Explorium using preloved materials, of which some were sourced locally in Texas with the remaining found in thrift stores in Hawaii.

We connected with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii at Turtle Bay in the North Shore. At our meeting we learned that Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii does not consist of a building footprint, but rather it is a compost area, storage bins and a storage container for the trash that is collected from Hawaii’s shores. Several of the collected plastics have labels depicting language from other countries, and this served as a reminder that trash does not need a passport to travel. I left the meeting reminded of the urgency to continue educating and practicing the four R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

I then led a creative reuse workshop at Art Explorium focused on teaching a soft sculpture activity for Dia de Los Muertos; a three-dimensional skull. The children also learned how to create paper marigolds and papel picado streamers plus they enjoyed some Mexican hot chocolate. Our trip to Hawaii closed with sightseeing, hiking and a drive along the Hawaiian scenic route to visit beautiful spots such as Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay. Mahalo!

 

The best aloha is a beautiful rainbow over Waikiki Beach, HI. View from a lanai at the Hale Koa Hotel.
Betty Boop hula art found at Bailey’s Antiques & Aloha Shirts, 517 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, Oahu, HI. This is the best place to find a ton of pop culture collectibles from all over the world. From the right: Cantu and me.
Collectables like vintage matchbooks diverted from the trash found at Bailey’s Antiques & Aloha Shirts, Honolulu.

 

Here I’m installing the Spare Parts Dia de Los Muertos Altar at Art Explorium located in the Kaimuki neighborhood of Honolulu.
I led the Spare Parts Dia de Los Muertos skull workshop at Art Explorium. The children in this picture are learning how to repurpose fabric and sewing scraps into a soft skull sculpture.
Here’s our community Dia de Los Muertos Altar at Art Explorium.
There are farm fresh produce stands found along the way to Turtle Bay Beach in the North Shore.
Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii located at Turtle Bay in the North Shore. From left: Luis Linares, Sustainable Coastlines volunteer & advocate, Cantu and me.
This photograph shows a close-up from the inside of the Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii recycling bins. Beach cleaning volunteers find numerous forms of trash discarded into the ocean including ropes, fishing nets, plastic and micro plastics.
The last portion of the trip allowed for sight seeing along Hawaii’s scenic route. Here’s Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. This image illustrates the beauty found in Hawaii and the urgency to keep our coastlines free from pollution.