Washed Ashore: From Beach Trash to Ocean Art

From a distance, Henry the Fish looks like a typical quirky and colorful sculpture you'd find in a small beach town. But when you look up close, Henry begins to change. His bright yellow and red scales are pieces of plastic, including lighters, beach shovels, and toothbrushes among the larger scraps. His large lips are pieces of Styrofoam and abandoned buoys. And his glittering round eyes were once a black buoy, two plastic rings, and cut water bottles from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It's a shocking transition as a fun work of art shifts into a symbol of our society's plastic consumption and waste before your eyes. But the meaning goes even deeper: all of the pieces of plastic trash that make up Henry's frame were collected from the beach in a community effort led by Angela Haseltine Pozzi, the Executive Director and Lead Artist at Washed Ashore based in Bandon, Oregon. "It’s a project to show the everyday person how much garbage is coming up on the beaches," she says. "I aim to grab people with the power of the sculptures, which are beautiful and then become horrifying."

 

Editor's note: From May 27-September 16, 2016 visit the Zoo to see a larger-than-life exhibit of 17 Washed Ashore marine wildlife sculptures—from jellyfish to sharks—made entirely of plastic pollution directly recovered from oceans.

Henry the Giant Fish was Angela's first idea for the Washed Ashore project. "If I make a giant bright fish, everyone will get their picture taken in front of it," she says—and, in the process, they'll learn about the harms of ocean plastic.