January 20 through May 13
In the ultimate “seek and find,” discover the everyday plastic objects that have been transformed into sculptures of dolphins, penguins, whales, coral, and other creatures of the sea and sky. Create memories with your family as you explore the indoor gardens and participate in a community bottlecap build at the creation station.
This exhibit features larger-than-life sculptures, made from a variety of plastics intercepted from the waste stream by artists Sayaka Ganz and Aurora Robson. They have turned the harsh reality of plastic pollution into a beautiful, powerful, and educational exhibit that will inspire us all to rethink our use of plastics and to change our own habits.
The exhibit is included with garden admission, $10 adults, $5 for children 6-12, and is free for garden members and children under 6.
Wildlife, particularly birds and sea life, are significantly impacted by plastic pollution, whether it be by ensnarement, ingestion, habitat damage, etc. To draw awareness to this, and to showcase the beauty and diversity of bird life and aquatic life, Sayaka Ganz has created an incredible menagerie of sculptures. The temperate house will feature an array of birds- from mythical creatures like the phoenix and the thunderbird to gulls, roosters, hens, and egrets (a few of which we might find outdoors in Nebraska). The tropical house will feature an assemblage of aquatic life (both animals and plants), like dolphins, coral, jellyfish, a whale, beta fish, and kelp.
The sculptures “Mikoto” (a phoenix) and “Nanami” (a blue whale) were created in the fall of 2017 at the Lied Art Gallery in Omaha, in conjunction with students from Creighton University’s Fine and Performing Arts Department.
“Arise” by Aurora Robson illustrates the volume and severity of plastic pollution and its relationship to marine life. Standing nearly 45′ tall, the piece will be primarily made from orange-hued reclaimed plastic materials (highway pilons, terracotta pots, tide bottles, and 5-gallon buckets) and will be embedded with illuminated pieces. The community has helped contribute to a stream of bottle caps (cleaned and sorted by color) that will appear to flow from the garden’s koi pond, ultimately lifting off into a giant tornado-like vortex filling the floral display hall. This piece was made specifically for this space by Robson.
Artist statement: The form of the vortex is intended to draw an uplifting expansive and serious correlation between our over consumption of plastic and its impacts on the marine environment in particular. What we encounter every day in the world is ending up in more and more in our landfills and waterways thus we are inadvertently essentially poisoning our collective well. If Arise is a success it should serve to open our hearts, eyes and minds to alternatives to plastic in our daily lives and how we can all tread more lightly on the planet and how reducing our plastic footprints can be a fun and beautiful dance as opposed to a chore.
Luminariales are brightly colored chandeliers made from reclaimed plasticware and lit internally with LED modules. The collaborative project, by Sayaka Ganz and kinetic sculptor Jim Merz (both of Fort Wayne, Indiana), will be on display in the Cindy and Mogens Bay Gallery of the Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory as part of the exhibit. Five installations will be static lanterns and five will be computer-controlled kinetic sculptures with complexly choreographed movements programmed by Merz. On the kinetic sculptures, each string will rotate independently at varying speeds while the entire chandelier rotates simultaneously. This creates an illusion of randomness within the existing patterns of movement. This upcycled, three-dimensional lighting has a beautiful inner glow and subtle movements that almost feel like a moving meditation for the guest. On close inspection, visitors will be able to find margarita glasses, tulip sundae glasses, various bowls, plates, and other recognizable objects. But when viewed from a distance, the colors and shapes of the individual pieces lose many of their edges and blend together to create singular forms.
The exhibit almost becomes a “seek and find” of sorts, allowing guests to examine each piece to see what everyday objects they can find. While “Nanami” the whale was at Creighton University, you could see a backscratcher, a piece of a train track, a sand shovel, and a swim fin making up parts of its body. Its nose is given shape by a baseball helmet, an ice scraper forms part of the tail, and a toy spider stands out as an “eye.” On “Plunge” (penguins) you can see parts of hanging flower baskets and plastic clothes hangers, as well as kitchen utensils. “Mysteries of Duality” features jellyfish made from plastic bowls with tennis racket strings and string trimmer lines for tentacles. Melding these pieces together with such harmony, you can see why Ganz has called herself a “3-D Impressionist.”
In the lobby, guests will be able to participate in a community bottlecap build at the “Creation Station.” Collected and sanitized bottlecaps have become moving pieces so that guests can fashion their own eco-art on large magnetic boards.
The exhibit also carries a message of environmental stewardship, with interpretive signage educating the public on different types of plastic (including bioplastics), what and where to recycle in Omaha, and easy ways to reduce single use plastics. The invitation to reflect on our relationship with nature is exactly the message inspired by Metamorphosis; not only on our individual or community recycling efforts, but on respect for everything in our surroundings, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. As Ganz says, “When we think of these things as beautiful, we value them. If we value our resources we will waste less.”