A&E » Arts

Looking past the recycle bin

Artist Kate Dutton sculpts a new face on plastic at a green outdoor art show



What: LUNA Harvest Art Fest

When: Friday, Sept. 21, 6 p.m.

Where: Village Park Centre

Admission: Free

A plastic bag, a plastic water bottle: items easily recycled. The trusty triangle with a number inside gives consumers the comfort of knowing they are doing the “green” thing.

The last artist Kate Dutton saw of these items was when they went into a blue recycle bin. But in the blue Pacific Ocean, 800 miles north of Hawaii, she learned a simple plastic bottle cap or plastic ring throw toy would gather into a “plastic stew” twice the size of Texas.

This Garbage Patch inspired the local artist to look at materials in a new way, a creative one.

Dutton is one of 11 artists opening up a discussion on the welfare of Mother Earth at the outdoor LUNA Harvest Art Fest: The Green Art Show Friday, Sept. 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Village Park Centre in Whistler.

“The show was sitting in the back of my head when a friend e-mailed me an article about a man doing ocean research and how he came by islands of plastic in the ocean,” Dutton said. “He talks about recycling and how a lot of plastic doesn’t break down, but only turns into a sort of sand. And how these plastics are causing all kinds of health problems for the environment and ourselves… It really was a wake up call.”

The Best of Life Magazine article, entitled “Our oceans are turning into plastic… are we?”, written by Susan Casey, shares a harrowing tale of sea turtle shells deformed by a plastic ring into an hour glass shape, how only three to five per cent of plastics are recycled and how scientists are linking plastics that we drink, breath and absorb through our skin every day to damaged reproductive organs of babies, and prostate and breast cancer. The average American tosses out 185 pounds of plastic every year. What does that say about our world? Dutton wanted to create a visual answer to that question.

“Aside from the immediate adverse effects on our personal and environmental health, we are leaving behind a legacy of trash that will remain long after we are gone; a homage to our disposable lifestyle,” she said. “Other cultures leave relics to celebrate their culture and people. We are also leaving an accurate picture of our culture, but not a very positive one.”

From plastic doll heads, Dutton puts a new face on plastic: a deathly poison that can lead to liver toxicity and obesity, all in the ding of a done microwave popcorn bag.

“I wanted to use only plastic that wouldn’t break down,” she said.

She didn’t need to look far: most the materials were salvaged from her own house and the Re Use It Centre.

“It is surprising to think how much plastic is in our life,” she said.

She hopes that through audiences seeing her art, they too will discover how much Saranwrap and children’s plastic toys are contributing to the problem.

“I hope people will consider what they are buying and where it comes from,” she said. “Number one and two plastics are the only ones that are fully able to make it through the recycling process. People need to understand and take steps to better the situation, even if that only means taking a cotton bag to go grocery shopping.”

All works displayed at The Green Show will be made with environmentally friendly materials, mediums or messaging in the outdoor showcase. In addition to Dutton’s sculpture, painted pieces, collage, clothing and live art will also be exhibited by Daniel John Poisson, Kalli Niedoba, Jessica Salvador, Dave Barnes, Pamela Mason, Allee Wells, Chantelle Mironuck, Stan Matwychuk, Sharai Rewels and Sarah Valentine.

Guests will vote for Best of Show. The top three artists will attend The Artrepreneur workshop and the top winner will receive $500 in art supplies and enrolment into the EcoArt course at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design.

Entry is free but a $2 donation is suggested for voting ballots.

The Village Park Centre is located behind Splitz and the Summit Lodge on Main Street.

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