Archive for the ‘LNPB Artists’ Category

Day 5, Leave No Plastic Behind, Merida, Mexico

March 7, 2010

by Cheryl Lohrmann

Just returned from the countryside surrounding Merida, Mexico. A rave party rages on a few blocks away this Friday evening. One dog barks, and others follow suit, adding their voices to the movement. Ah, back in the modern city.

We scurried to leave Wednesday morning to catch the 10:30 am bus. It rolled comfortably through several small towns with concrete fences painted with Coca-Cola product logos (Cristal seems to be all the rage) and political campaign slogans. So many buildings seem to be unabashedly crumbling, while larger, seemingly newer buildings tower in the distance.

Along the coastline are luxury rentals for the oh-too-short vacation to sunny Mexico. Two story buildings with landscaped yards stand several yards away from the road. On the opposite side of the road, what do we see? A tourism-initiated landfill, baby blue and pink plastic bags filled with vacation detritus, shocks the senses. There is no trash service here, I’m told, and since the visitors are instructed to leave the rooms as they found them, it ends up in the nearest ditch. In the United States, throwing something away is exactly that: it is a ways away from our sight. To see so much in one place, out of “place”, is a shock to the senses.

A little further down the road, there is the small fishing town where we are doing our project. Everyone here depends on the sea for their sustenance. It’s a big part of what they eat and what they sell to the city. For what money they need, there is that which they have raised or can harvest from their land. It recalls an older time. For an oh-too-short period of time prior to the industrial age of mass production, the countryside provided the sustenance for any nearby city. Money and organic waste would return to the countryside to enrich the laborers and the soil in cycles of production.

It feels like camping since we are preparing and eating all of our meals outdoors. Our hammocks are hung in a palapa a few minutes walk from downtown, where Mariachi, a playful dog donning a holey Spiderman t-shirt, is eager to have company again. Because of the Nortes, the cool winter winds blowing from the Northeastern United States, the waves are too high for the fisherman, so we don’t get our omega-3 fatty acids until the lunch before our bus ride back, the third day.

In these first few days in the gulf town I experienced some new things indicative of a vacation to the tropics: drinking coconut juice directly from the source, treasure seeking on the beach front, chasing baby chickens into their protective cardboard box for the evening, taking an overdue bath from water heated over a wood fire, and snacking on freshly harvested tamarind, that mysterious fruit found in imported drinks and pinata candy in the U.S. I finally had a good night sleep in a hammock, and celebrated the brief unrehearsed conversations I could carry on in Spanish.

Our project is a curiosity in the town. On Thursday the plan was to begin the project, as advertised at the Palacio, which serves as a community meeting place or town hall of sorts. A little bit before 3 pm, we headed over and found it bustling. Two pick-up trucks were parked in front and men were lining the walls of the courtyard. Were they waiting for us? An audience of grown, weathered men is not something that this kind of project enjoys very often. They did know about us and were curious, but they were there for their windbreaker, a benefit as part of a program for fisherman to clean up the litter around town when the winds kept them from fishing.

The kids arrived slowly, all bathed and combed to meet the curiosity with their best foot forward. The tables and chairs arrived at about the same time, we set them up, along with our computer and demonstration table and began. We have this project divided into five workshops, the first was an introduction of the three of us, Morgan, Rey and myself (as best as I could in my second language), and an invitation to return next week with the plastic that they used, and collected. We also asked that they bring examples of thing they had made by hand, out of any material. That was it, we didn’t want to give too much away. Seventeen kids, an even smattering of girls and boys, showed up. We were hoping it would be the entire town, adults included, all nodding their heads in agreement that they would become the first town in Mexico to go completely plastic-free. We’d win the Nobel Peace Prize and take our work to the next town. We’d give sought after, sold out speeches as part of our book tour and enlighten and enrich the masses with self-sufficiency. People would finally get how it’s all connected. Rock stars and famous actors would endorse Create Plenty and the International Plastic Quilt Project…

Well starting with where we are, the next day we were heartened to hear that the older kids in the secondaria, or junior high, are also curious about what the two gringas are doing in town. Our sweet little palapa is across the street from the school, so as we were gathering ourselves together to head to tio and tia’s place for breakfast, a maestra from the school came to ask if we would also do the project there. As is true in the U.S., it’s best to attend to different learning levels separately. Luckily most of the kids are connected to adults. We’ll get them yet.

And thanks to our strong artist contacts here in Merida, we’ve been invited to contribute a paragraph and a few photographs from our work to an national interior design magazine called Ambientes. As a result, the website needs to be translated into Spanish by the end of April. Thankfully we have a capable and willing volunteer!

We will take the trek to the Gulf coast three more times. Morgan and I have spent the weekend recuperating, touring the city of Merida with Rey’s brother Checo (Rey has been commissioned to paint a mural in a small chapel this weekend), gathering some supplies, crafting and solidifying the lesson plans for the few weeks ahead to start this work here in beautiful Mexico.

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Leave No Plastic Behind, Merida, Mexico, Begins

March 3, 2010

by Cheryl Lohrmann

Just before leaving the beautiful Baja Peninsula near the end of my self-designated vacation time, I came upon a copy of Log Book from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck. A collaboration between Steinbeck and a research scientist to create a pictorial representation of the vast life among the region’s coral reefs, the project began with humble means and ambitious intentions. In the first pages of Cortez, Steinbeck writes of his self-consciousness towards this undertaking. One important task was to charter a boat for the project. He felt ridiculous asking the fisherman whose livelihoods depended upon the sea. With vacant looks in response to his inquiries, most could not comprehend the purpose of the project and he surmised that there was no room for it in their focused operations. They did not have time to consider the reasons why anyone might do such a thing.

When I began to ask people to take a plastic-free challenge and make art out of the plastic they saved because even if you avoid it, you get it and then we have an art show (see, there’s no real easy way to explain it) I wondered if there was something else I might do with my time. Yet these days more and more individuals every day are taking vows to avoid the perceived conveniences of our modern lives. Now to organize these intentions into a movement of building the infrastructure of alternatives, starting from the grassroots? Is it ridiculous or is it so crazy it just needs to work?

It is one thing to do this project in the United States where the green movement has been fleshed out to the point where its many facets are all but a widespread reality. To take it to Mexico feels like quite another thing and smells of a stereotypical holier-than-thou mission. Happily, it is grounded in the sense that two locals, in this case friends of mine, are presenting this project to their neighbors in a nearby Gulf village. Morgan Lange and her partner, artist Rey Pech Cetz, have spread the word to six different communities, fisherman included, who have been invited to participate in one of six workshops. We begin Thursday, and an art show will be on exhibit on March 24.

We do not know how this virgin voyage will go. I know I will stand somewhat idly by due to my level of Spanish fluency at this point. As Steinbeck did, I am approaching this as an observational study, remembering that every thing that exists as a daily reality had to start as a ridiculous idea and move through many stages of troubleshooting.

At the last minute Rey and his neighbor, an electrician, are studying how to rig up a digital projector for Power Point presentations and YouTube videos to present to the participants. There are no supplies, maybe not even tables and chairs for our workshop space, but what do we really need? The creativity in this country is evident and yet the material exists at every turn, a perfect storm for this creative awareness raising endeavor.

Stay tuned for further posts in the Logbook of Leave No Plastic Behind, Mexico through March 2010.

From Leave No Plastic Behind, Olympia – #4

May 28, 2009

Ocean of Plastic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diane Kurzyna (a.k.a. Ruby Reusable) “Ocean of Plastic”

This square is made from crocheted plastic bags that the newpaper is delivered in; I know that I could read the paper on-line, but prefer to cozy up to the print edition, and also reading it first thing in the morning, while still in my pjs, so I don’t go out and purchase it sans bag. During the rainy weather here in the Pacific Northwest, I do appreciate a dry newspaper, even if these bags accumalate way to quickly, I just can not give them up … I do save and reuse and/or recycle them.

The little white plastic thingies were collected over these past 3 months from the cartons of milk and juice that my family and I have consumed. We save the cartons to collect our compostable food wastes (which the City of Olympia picks up curbside now), the cartons are compostable but of course, the plastic lid and liner is not compostable nor recyclable, and so I save them for art projects. 

I have to admit, despite being aware of trying to avoid using plastic, it is overwhelming. I try not feel like a failure for not being able to live a plastic-free lifestyle, but rather reaffirm my commitment to at least attempting to reduce (as well as reusing and recycling). Until manufacturers are forced to take stewardship over their products disposal, we will be awash in oceans of plastic (hence the title of my piece).

What it’s like to be plastic-free #2

May 26, 2009
Lhisa Reish
Pre-project statement: When I got to the crossroads in 1989, I chose my day job and I really haven’t looked back. I have made some art for friends, and some for money in those 20 years, but…. 
It’s been a long time since a context for me to “make art” has captured my imagination like LNPB has. It’s got Politix! It’s got Social Conscious! It’s got Subversion! It’s not going to cost me cent to make! And it doesn’t have to match ANYONE’s sofa! All that plus it provides a perfect foil to talk to people about what it REALLY means to be “Wasted in the US”. It will be a huge challenge for me to go completely plastic-free and I don’t expect to succeed.In fact I expect to fail. It will be a journey for me and I plan to make up for my shortcomings by pulling as many of my associates along for as much of the ride as they will. 
To that end (see paragraph above!) I intend to make my 12×12(s) into collage made from bits of all the millions of little stickers that I, my friends, family, and co-workers have been saving. From off our fruit rinds, our CD and DVD packages, that hitchhike along with our mail… all the little items that stick and say “NEW” that no one really notices until someone asks them to collect them for an art project about waste reduction.
Post-project statement: It is extremely difficult to not go silly when writing an artist’s statement about pieces you made using sharpies and stickers. My inner 6-year-old
is especially pleased with being trusted to use the exacto knife. But seriously,
I hope you find something here that makes you laugh.I hope something here makes you think. 
Mostly though-I hope you see something here that makes you want to get involved. Take on the plastic-free challenge! It could be your stuff up on these
walls next year! Being part of Episode 5 has been a lot of fun and a lot of work:
I’m very glad the art is out of my head and “on paper” where it belongs. 
As for waste reduction- that, of course, is ongoing. Once you begin to
reduce the unecessary and the convenient, there is still the unavoidable–
and it is there wherein lie the truly difficult changes– the changes we must
make not just as individuals, but as a culture. We are starting that here! 
A big THANKS to LNPB and another to my pals in the Community of Stickerhood.
A tip of the chiquita peel to you all! 

Words from the Episode Artists, before and after the plastic-free challenge~more will be posted as they come in! Come see the art on June 5, 6-8 p.m. at the RE:Vision Gallery at SCRAP, 2915 NE MLK in Portland, Oregon. There will be snacks, great art, a raffle and cutting edge conversation.

Lhisa Reish

Pre-project statement: When I got to the crossroads in 1989, I chose my day job and I really haven’t looked back. I have made some art for friends, and some for money in those 20 years, but…. 

It’s been a long time since a context for me to “make art” has captured my imagination like LNPB has. It’s got Politix! It’s got Social Conscious! It’s got Subversion! It’s not going to cost me cent to make! And it doesn’t have to match ANYONE’s sofa! All that plus it provides a perfect foil to talk to people about what it REALLY means to be “Wasted in the US”. It will be a huge challenge for me to go completely plastic-free and I don’t expect to succeed.In fact I expect to fail. It will be a journey for me and I plan to make up for my shortcomings by pulling as many of my associates along for as much of the ride as they will. 

To that end (see paragraph above!) I intend to make my 12×12(s) into collage made from bits of all the millions of little stickers that I, my friends, family, and co-workers have been saving. From off our fruit rinds, our CD and DVD packages, that hitchhike along with our mail… all the little items that stick and say “NEW” that no one really notices until someone asks them to collect them for an art project about waste reduction.

Post-project statement: It is extremely difficult to not go silly when writing an artist’s statement about pieces you made using sharpies and stickers. My inner 6-year-old is especially pleased with being trusted to use the exacto knife. But seriously,

I hope you find something here that makes you laugh.I hope something here makes you think. 

Mostly though-I hope you see something here that makes you want to get involved. Take on the plastic-free challenge! It could be your stuff up on these walls next year! Being part of Episode 5 has been a lot of fun and a lot of work:

I’m very glad the art is out of my head and “on paper” where it belongs. 

As for waste reduction- that, of course, is ongoing. Once you begin to reduce the unecessary and the convenient, there is still the unavoidable–and it is there wherein lie the truly difficult changes– the changes we must make not just as individuals, but as a culture. We are starting that here! 

A big THANKS to LNPB and another to my pals in the Community of Stickerhood.

A tip of the chiquita peel to you all!

Episode 5 Artist Speaks on Plastic-Free Experience

May 26, 2009

Words from the Episode Artists, before and after the plastic-free challenge~more will be posted as they come in! Come see the art on June 5, 6-8 p.m. at the RE:Vision Gallery at SCRAP, 2915 NE MLK in Portland, Oregon. There will be snacks, great art, a raffle and cutting edge conversation. Here is the Post-Project statement from Laurie Ewing:

Pre-project statement: My background is in the visual arts. I have worked with artists in galleries and frame shops for many years along with making my own art which has included B&W photography of ghost towns and other abandoned placed and more recent mixed media pieces. Deep core beliefs caused me to drastically alter the course of my life by going back to school majoring in Environmental Studies and Sociology. 

As I prepare to graduate I feel certain that I can integrate my past in the arts with a future addressing how civilization affects the environment. As an artist, my most recent work comprises layers of used materials adhered together. Pieces may contain old photos, notes, advertising, string, keys, and many other small treasures. They are often partially concealed, revealing aspects such as texture and shape; often something of a pattern occurs.

Along with graduation I am simultaneously preparing to move to Portland. Though I will miss my Eugene, I am excited for the opportunities that await me in my new home. I have been utilizing the internet to become familiar with the organizations I would like to become involved with. 

This project with LNPB combines just the elements I have described above. Though it will be difficult in terms of the distance, I feel that I can also act as an agent for spreading the message further. The piece or pieces I in envision creating for this project involve plastic bags and my sewing machine. I became aware of the magnitude of waste from plastic bags as well as the alternatives, while writing a proposal for a plan to implement a per bag fee for the city of Eugene as a final paper for a class. Part of my effort over the duration of this art project will be to find out how to take my plan, in the form of a student paper and submit it to the city as a genuine proposal.

Post Project statement: What an incredible journey the last three months of my life have been. For me the LNPB project feels like it has been a miserable failure. Interestingly, that is both what is bad and what is good about it. I realized that given my present lifestyle, as a full-time student and single-parent, I couldn’t reduce my plastic consumption much more than I already had. I asked myself why that was and I came to two separate conclusions. 

The first was simple, I had already been making efforts in that area by using reusable cups and bags, and limiting purchases that include wasteful packaging. The second was more illuminating, that alternatives to plastic containers and packaging are seldom made available. And, further, that there is limited access to bulk items that I could fill my own containers with. How did people get by before plastic packaging? All this reminded me that consumer sovereignty is one of the biggest jokes in capitalism. For each one of us, the choices we make as consumers are limited to the options that have been made available. 

Where I experienced the most success was at cleaning and saving most all the plastic that came through my possession. As a result my experience of plastic packaging is very different than it was before. Keeping it and seeing it accumulate is brilliant! Because I compost, recycle and seldom eat meat, I had almost no trash for the three months of this project. Otherwise stated, almost all the trash my daughter and I produce is non-recyclable plastic packaging. Non-recyclable where? Curbside. We found that we can actually take much of it where it can be recycled at the waste transfer station in Eugene and at another location in Portland. This begs the question why is this not available with home recycling service? 

Creating these little art pieces has been inspiring. My daughter and I sifted through all the materials and had lots of fun exploring the possibilities. The pieces I present here are what I imagined from the beginning; quilt squares of sorts, made from plastic, thread and a few treasures mixed in. It was interesting to use a sewing machine on plastic bags, a very different tactile experience. I chose to use dark red thread throughout the pieces for effect, red as a warning symbol. 

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this project. Thank you LNPB!

Vs. verses (LNPB)

April 6, 2009

Having stumbled thru the pre-Episode 5 winter kickyerplastic addiction, and moved with seamless effort into stumbling thru Episode 5 realtime I have a collection of “either-or” questions to ask you Veterans of the Plastic–

Like…

Toilet paper: I like to buy the stuff made from recycled paper, BUT all of it comes wrapped in plastic. The few brands that come wrapped in paper are made of virgin pulp. So- who’s hiding the secret stash of recycled toilet paper wrapped in (recycled) paper and how can I get some too?

Cheese: all that comes wrapped in plastic too. Even from our Olympia Food Co-op. Now, I do like the fresh Mozi from the Farmer’s Market, but it’s got limited use. Great in a salad, lousy in a toasty. What’s a Cheddar head to do?

Moving on to another dairy product, Yogurt: anybody have luck making yogurt that doesn’t make you make a face? Before I shell out 50 clams for a yogurt maker, I’d like to know if it’s possible to get a smooth, congealed and notsodamn tart product.

What do y’all know about the composition of butcher paper? the kind you actually get from a meat counter with product in it. The guy at the counter said “it’s waxed” but it looks like a thin plastic film adfixed to the paper.  Anybody know what it really is?

Thanks in advance for any illumination you can bring. Not only do I ask for myself, but friends and co-workers ask me about these things as well. As you can see by the questions, all we think about is food!

I truly look forward to being involved with LNPB in this adventure and to meeting you who are other participants. Best of luck, Lhisa

“Want not to waste, waste not to want”