Marine Debris Installations

In 2022 I began to focus on marine debris installations.These installations incorporate: neon-colored monofilament (fishing line) collected from the NC Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program, NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort, NC; debris collected by Nicholas School students at the April 2022 Beach Weekend in the Carteret County; many colored ropes from lobster fisherman, scavenged from the dump in Deer Isle, Maine; black plastic rope, scavenged from a fishermen’s dock in Atlantic, North Carolina; and other plastic beach detritus collected over the past 15 years from around the world.

These projects have included the creation of a “Smack” (the collective noun for a group of jellyfish) with art students from Green Level High School, Cary, NC. Forged from monofilament and lobster rope, the “smack”of over 100 jellyfish was erected in Bond Park for Cary Spring Daze, 2024. Environmental students from Green Level were present at the festival to discuss marine debris.

 An ocean Gyre made from more of these materials was installed in Theatre Art Galleries, High Point, February 2023, and a river of marine debris flowed through GreenHill Gallery, Greensboro, along with a waterfall of plastic bottles for the April 2022 show, “H2O.” 

In April, 2022 I collaborated with Nancy Kelly, Director of Nicholas Community Engagement & Events, and Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment faculty, students, and staff in Durham and Beaufort to create a large public art installation. Cascading down five floors of Grainger Hall, the colorful installation creatively weaves plastics found in our streams, creeks, culverts, rivers, and oceans. Ropes and monofilament are hung from the fifth floor outer railing and reach down to the first floor.

marine debris waterfall

Environmental Installations

For many years, I have been documenting the throw-away ”stuff” of our society. Americans continue to create more garbage, per capita, than any other culture, yet we are blind to our waste. I believe this is both a function of our wealth and the vastness of our country. We have room to hide our waste, and the money to make more.  I have collected many things, among them, bottle caps, credit cards, plastic bags, straws and lids, beach plastic and scrap fabric. I use these everyday items to make work, which transforms the materials into new landscapes, animals and installations.  As an environmental artist, I am inspired by the natural world around me. It is my hope that my reuse of discarded everyday objects to make my work will inspire others to look more closely at both the natural world and how everything we casually “throw away” impacts our fragile environment.

Plastic Bottle Installations

Over the last decade, America has come a place where drinking water out of plastic bottles is the norm.  Even if you do not buy it  yourself, people offer it to you everywhere, as a courtesy, as a kindness.  Just because that is the thing to do.  Carrying your own reusable water bottle is more trouble, an extra step. There are many reasons for these ubiquitous plastic bottles which are everywhere. Convenience being the biggest one and right after that would be people thinking it is “better”.  The irony is, we live in a country where our normal water is usually just fine.  We have been bottled and sold an idea.  I write about it in my book the Last Straw.  I have made many large-scale installations using these ubiquitous bottles collected by local communities.

Bottle Cap Mandalas

Bottle caps and jar lids are records of food eaten, something consumed.  We eat, we drink, we wash our clothes, we brush our teeth.  We do these things every day.  We  use the stuff in the containers us, yet the containers remain. Aluminum cans are the only thing we put into our recycling bin that are made into cans again. Everything else is downcycled into something else, like carpet or clothing which is not recyclable.  For over twenty years I have collected  caps and lids as a record of consumption.  Over the years, I made these mandalas with the help of many schools and communities..  The word mandala comes from the Tibetan word for cosmos.

Weaving Like a Bird Installations

I have worked in many schools, especially throughout North Carolina, designing “Weaving Like A Bird” installations.  The school community collects colorful fabrics which we then cut into strips and weave on the structures I have made.  I have developed and helped children to weave like a bird in may different locations.  Here are some of the final projects.