Artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova sit atop scaffolding while making design decisions at the construction site of Monterey Bay Aquarium's life-sized blue whale art installation made from discarded single-use plastic. Building the whale took four-and-a-half months, including 15 weeks to hand-recycle the plastic panels, four weeks to fabricate the steel frame and three weeks to sculpt and screw on the panels.
Monterey Bay Aquarium, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (Parks Conservancy), unveils a life-sized blue whale art installation at the heart of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Crissy Field in the Presidio, to bring awareness to a massive problem: the issue of ocean plastic pollution. The 82-foot-long blue whale made from hand-recycled plastic trash makes a splash on Saturday, October 13, and will remain on public view there for three months, until January 2019.
Monterey Bay Aquarium chose the endangered blue whale as the subject of the art installation to draw a connection between plastic pollution and its impact on marine life around the world. The largest animal ever to live on Earth, a blue whale can weigh about 300,000 pounds – the approximate weight of plastic that ends up in the ocean every nine minutes.
"We created a life-sized blue whale to dramatize the scale of the problem," said Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. "As people view the installation, we hope they're inspired to make changes in their own plastic consumption and will to join us in protecting ocean wildlife."
Bay Area artist Joel Dean Stockdill, known for creating artworks from reclaimed materials, collaborated with co-creator Yustina Salnikova to build the blue whale installation. The two, along with a team, personally hand-sorted, cleaned and cut plastic trash before transforming it into panels that compose the artwork.
"Plastic is filling up our landfills and only nine percent of it has been recycled. As a society we need to reduce our reliance on single-use plastic," said Stockdill. "That's why I wanted to be a part of this effort."
Stockdill and Salnikova chose to make the installation from recycled plastic trash rather than use found objects typically seen in other discarded plastic sculptures. The artists developed a custom recycling process done by hand to demonstrate that small-scale, high impact waste management is possible and not something that necessarily has to be done on an industrial scale.
"The solution to ocean plastic pollution is in our hands," Packard said. "We can make a difference through the choices we make as individuals, and by encouraging businesses to adopt innovative alternatives and supporting public policies to curb single-use plastic."
Monterey Bay Aquarium developed the idea for the blue whale with Hub Strategy and Communication, a San Francisco advertising agency. Hub worked with Building 180, an arts management and consulting agency, to bring in Stockdill.
This installation is part of the Art in the Parks program that has a mission to connect visitors with creative experiences in the parks that are transformative, unexpected and inspirational. Since 2006, more than 280 artists have participated in 27 art projects, engaging over 1,176,000 park visitors across 19 park sites in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area through the initiative.
"Our Art in the Parks initiative seeks to bring art to park settings to provide new ways of experiencing and learning about place and to foster wider civic engagement and dialogue around today's most important social issues," said Greg Moore, President and CEO of the Parks Conservancy. "Art projects like the blue whale art installation encourage an exploration about the history of our parks, the importance of our natural resources and the stewardship of these places."
"This installation builds on a rich tradition of artists who bring new perspectives through creative expression to the national park experience," said Charlie Strickfaden, Chief of Communications at Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
About the Monterey Bay Aquarium
With a mission to inspire conservation of the ocean, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the most admired aquarium in the United States, a leader in science education and a voice for ocean conservation through comprehensive programs in marine science and public policy. Everything we do works in concert to protect the future of our blue planet. More information at montereybayaquarium.org
About the National Park Service
The National Park Service (NPS) is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior charged with managing the preservation and public use of America's most significant natural, scenic, historic and cultural treasures. The NPS manages the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, as well as 417 other park sites across the U.S. For more information, visit nps.gov/goga
About Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is the nonprofit membership organization that supports the Golden Gate National Recreation Area—the most-visited unit in the national park system in the U.S. Since 1981, the Parks Conservancy has provided over $500 million in aid for site transformations, habitat restorations, research and conservation, volunteer and youth engagement, and interpretive and educational programs. Learn more at parksconservancy.org
About Art in the Parks
The mission of Art in the Parks is to provide programs that connect our visitors with creative experiences in the parks that are transformative, unexpected and inspirational. Learn more: parksconservancy.org/visit/art
About Hub Strategy & Communication
Hub Strategy and Communication is an integrated advertising, design and production company located in San Francisco's historic Presidio district. hubsanfrancisco.com
About Building 180
Building 180 is a creative consultancy and arts management group whose goal is to bring more art into the world and who believe that art has the power to build community and create impact. www.building180.com
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