FOUND
A COLLECTION OF WASTE FROM A LAKE ERIE BEACH
THE DILEMMA:

I'm on vacation. At the beach. With Grandma. Grandma has been coming to this beach for 80+ years. As we're walking beside the water one day I notice that there is a visual pattern: dead fish then a pile of trash / dead fish then another pile of trash. I look closer and there is a great variety of waste on the beach. So I begin documenting everything I find with black and white pen drawings
in my sketchbook, a log that eventually totals 482 individual objects.

But the problem comes when day after day, I keep collecting trash and my pile grows bigger. I wonder not only where it comes from but where it will go when I am through with it. Much of it is recyclable but much of it is not. So I decide to make something out of it before I send it back to the dump (or back into the lake). Something pretty. Something to contrast the ugliness of pollution.



OBJECTIVES:

1 /  Bring attention to waste on the beach (without being didactic).
2 /  Eliminate some of that waste responsibly.
3 /  Reuse some non-recyclables to create something beautiful that encourages interaction.


OUTCOMES:

As a response to the starkness of my black and white sketches, I tried to create something rich, meaningful, and attention-grabbing. I spelled out the word "FOUND" with stones and filled the "O" with non-recyclable trash, organizing and shaping it into a giant colorwheel. I filled the D with recyclables.

On the beach where people were relaxing or not paying much attention to the world around them, the bright, deliberate color arrangement was able to get their attention. It demonstrated the issue of waste in another way, not only by bringing trash together that was normally spread over a mile of sand but by reusing our garbage in an unconventional way and inviting people to participate.
The last of my five-page catalog of sketches:
A long visual description of the process I went through:
Besides documenting everything with personal drawings, I also took photographs and was able to make visual connections between some of the trash I collected and the dead animals alongside it.
NEXT STEPS:

I loved how people interacted with the installation, either by contributing their own pieces of trash (one small boy added a fork to the colorwheel) or by taking a moment to actually stop and look at the trash. This trash had always been a part of their beach but was so much easier to ignore when it was spread out.

I'd love to take the project to other locations and see if the deliberate collection and reforming of trash into colors and patterns could make the locals or vistors consider how each piece of trash, small or large, affects their environment.

Found
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Found

For five days I collected waste from a beach on Lake Erie, where Grandma has been coming for 80+ years. I cataloged everything I collected in my Read More
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