Project developed by Kristen Murphy Heeres with 2nd graders of Holm Elementary School, Denver
“If many little people, in many little places, do many little things, they can change the face of the Earth.” – African Proverb
Plastic debris in our oceans and on land is a global problem. This problem did not exist a decade ago nor did it exist before in the history of our planet. This plastic waste has become “the ghosts of our consumption.” In conjunction to studying animals in Ms. Felix’s grade class, the students worked in art to show the affects plastic waste has on these animals and their habitat and give them a voice that will rise up and let the world’s love of animals and the earth motivate change. The students understood through their research and lessons that science tells us how something really is and how it works but does not express how one feels. Through this work, they have created a synergy between art and science.
The students began this study by exploring how plastic waste begins from storm drains, gyres in the ocean to daily littering. They understood that although some of the littering is not accidental, many people are unaware of the affects it plays in nature and others may think the world is so big a little trash wouldn’t hurt. The students know it is their job to speak for the animals and their world and educate others to on how to keep the earth clean. The students explored their own school grounds and gathered bags of trash some of which they recycled or disposed of and other trash was cleaned and selected to adorn their artwork with. Each of their animals has debris on them but used it in a way to express a need for change. Upon finishing their animals the students each created an inkblot landscape to place their animals on to exemplify the permanency of this global problem if actions are not taken by all members of our society to stop this problem.
The paper mache tree is an emblem of growth and can be added to over time by other classes or groups around the world. The branches reach out to our world with messages of hope and awareness. The leaves were an oil and water experiment we conducted to show the affects an oil spill has on animals and their habitat. Lastly, the students photographed their work and used a gel medium to transfer their images on to foam so their work could be more mobile and allow room for others to join in their efforts. In this installation, art and young hands will play a role in making all aware of this global problem through visual voices.
Message in a Bottle
Are you afraid of ghosts? This installation should really scare you because it reflects the “ghosts of our consumption” that are lurking in every corner and on every shore around the globe. Instead of collecting seashells on the shore, you can collect vibrant sun-bleached and patina-worn plastic. Plastic pollution is a growing problem that must be stopped and awareness through love is the students’ mission. The second graders set forth as scientists and studied these animals. They learned about where they live, what they eat and more. As artists they explored how an animal is affected by this global problem and created a work of art to express a “Message in a Bottle” that shows how these animals truly feel and are affected by plastic waste. Their intent is to “nudge” others with these works of art and motivate a “LOVE” that will promote change.
This problem DID NOT exist a generation ago but now this generation wants to make a change for their future and the future of our sea life, wildlife and majestic lands around the world. Help them in their efforts by educating one another about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling!
Kristen in available for consulting on how to integrate the Debris project into school curriculum: firstname.lastname@example.org – 720-878-5254