Recycle Runway Blog

World Oceans Day at the Georgia Aquarium Published: 07.09.2014 at 9:25 am by Nancy Judd

The Aluminum Drop Dress (sponsored by Novelis) and the Faux Fur Coat on display in the Aquarium

The Aluminum Drop Dress (sponsored by Novelis) and the Faux Fur Coat on display in the Aquarium

In June I spent a wonderful week at The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta celebrating World Oceans Day by partnering with the Aquarium to provide recycled art workshops, a mini-exhibition, and a presentation about my work.

Prior to my arrival two of my recycled fashion sculptures were displayed in the center court that links all the exhibitions. Evidently the sculptures were so popular that volunteers had to be stationed next to them at all times to keep people from touching them!

Being at the Aquarium was a very moving experience for me because I was able to spend time with the animals in the galleries and behind the scenes. One morning I happened to be there when they fed the whale sharks, that was quite a site! I was impressed by the many educational programs that the Aquarium has developed for people of all ages. Spending time with the animals certainly created a deeper level of appreciation, wonder, respect and understanding for me. The Aquarium staff do an excellent job of building upon our deepened sense of care and concern for sea life by including information on how we impact our oceans and ways that we can make a difference. For example: they give out Seafood Guides that help you purchase fish caught or farmed using environmentally responsible practices to support healthy and abundant oceans. This guide was created in conjunction with the Monterrey Aquarium’s Seafood WATCH program, visit their site to learn about sustainable fish choices in your region.  This type of environmental education is what I try to do with my work as well, but instead of using animals I engage people with art.

Sample workshop projects

Sample workshop projects

My two days of workshops focused on the many problems that PLASTIC causes in the ocean. As many of you already know, plastic never disappears it only breaks down into tiny pieces of plastic that are often mistaken for plankton and other food sources and eaten by marine life. Plastic in the oceans is a catastrophic problem that causes sickness and even death in marine life and can cause harm all the way up the food chain to humans.

In my workshops we up-cycled plastic bottles by cutting them into the shapes of our favorite marine animals and after coloring them, turned them into magnets, pins, earrings or necklaces.  People took their creations home with them to remember what we can do to reduce plastic in our oceans:

Filming the CBS news story

View the CBS news story

  • Never, EVER litter plastic in waterways or on land.
  • Recycle all plastics accepted in your community.
  • Reduce your use of plastic by:
    • Using re-usable water bottles, coffee cups and grocery bags.
    • Reduce single-stream plastic such as straws, plastic packaging and to-go cups.
    • Choose products with less plastic packaging.

In preparation for the workshops, the Aquarium staff collected many plastic bottles and food containers, but we weren’t sure we had enough materials for the thousands of people that visit the Aquarium on the weekends. So my Director of Partnerships, Lee Carrothers, and I went to the Pratt Industries recycling facility where they kindly allowed us to pick plastic bottles out of the recycling line. You can see video footage of me in action on the local CBS evening news story about my time at the Aquarium.

I also gave a lecture about my work and I must say the audience was truly the most diverse I have ever presented to. One wall of the room was glass, and four Beluga Whales graced our presence throughout my talk! Here is a link to a live webcam of these graceful creates.

The friendly beluga whales visit during my talk!

The friendly beluga whales visit during my talk!

Jeff Corwin the host of Oceans Mysteries sponsored by the Georgia Aquarium was also celebrating World Oceans Day at the Aquarium that week, giving lectures and shooting a new episode with his daughter. I enjoyed attending one of his presentations, hearing his story and perspective on caring for the planet.

It was a very inspiring week at the Aquarium… thank you to all the wonderful staff and volunteers for hosting and assisting me!

While in Atlanta I also spent time preparing for my second exhibition in the Atlanta International Airport in 2017. In one of my previous posts I announced that the Atlanta Airport has invited me back to install a second exhibition of 20 new recycled fashion sculptures. This is a very exciting validation of the work that I am doing, and I can’t wait to start on this new project. Lee and I are in the process of developing the collaborations, partnerships, and sponsors that will be part of the 20 new sculptures. While in Atlanta, we met with numerous potential partners and were thrilled to learn that one of my previous sponsors, Novelis is very interested in being a sculpture and exhibition sponsor for the 2017 show. Stay tuned for more details. You can also contact Lee at 303-978-9686 or for more information.

Lastly, I am 20 “likes” away from reaching 1,000 on my Recycle Runway Facebook page, if you have not “liked” my page yet, please help me reach the 1,000 mark– Thanks!

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