Angela Haseltine Pozzi’s relationship with art was lifelong. She was born into a family of artists and grew up to be an art educator, with a Master’s Degree in Arts Education. She also always loved the ocean. So when tragedy struck in her life in 2002, and her husband suddenly died, Pozzi turned to the things she loved to help herself and her family heal. When she got there, though, she found that the ocean itself needed healing. Pozzi described her emotional state after her husband’s death during a speech at the opening of the Shedd Aquarium’s Washed Ashore exhibit as wrecked. She was looking for purpose, and she found it in Washed Ashore, a project she built from the ground up that she says made life worth living again.
Pozzi used her artistic talents to take the plastic, metal and other detritus that’s damaging our oceans and shorelines, and, with the help of fellow artists and volunteers at her Washed Ashore nonprofit, turn it into elaborate sculptures of the sea creatures she loves so much. The Shedd Aquarium brought in one of her pieces, Stella the Seahorse, back in July, but the full exhibit which features 10 of the massive, intricate works, opens this Saturday, September 23rd. These pieces are entirely crafted from ocean debris, save for a few wires and screws, and many of them are quite big – Stella herself being 13 feet tall and weighing in at 1600 pounds.
The sculptures are scattered throughout the Shedd, and are often placed near their real life inspirations by design. Haseltine-Pozzi wanted people to think about each animal and their environment as they looked at these sculptures. Sea trash is a huge problem everywhere, and the types of trash found even vary from environment to environment. She touched on a few of the worst offenders as far as ocean pollution, and they hit close to home- water bottles, cigarette lighters and flip flops are some of the most commonly found items everywhere, while on the East Coast, people often leave sand toys from vacations on the shore to get swept away by the waves rather than bring them back on the plane.
Everything about Washed Ashore at the Shedd Aquarium is designed to make you stop and think.While a the sculptures are fun and colorful, they’re also sober reminders of what we’re doing to our environment. Even the trash involved in the 10 sculptures at the Shedd and the 60 more back at Washed Ashore in Bandon, OR where the project has its headquarters only represent a drop in the bucket. What’s more, all sorts of ocean life is at risk from ingesting or being caught in things like plastic, rope and metal, not to mention the chemicals being dumped into our rivers and other waterways. The Shedd Aquarium brought this exhibit to Chicago in hopes that people would really think about this, both here at home as we enjoy the last bit of summer on Lake Michigan, and as it affects us as a global community.
Washed Ashore represents the vision of an artist who’s on a mission- not just to save the ocean, but to use her talents to educate everyone, young and old, about pollution and what we can do to ensure we’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of our shorelines for years to come. The Shedd Aquarium shares that mission, and gives a wonderful home to these creative eye-openers. Washed Ashore opens at the Shedd Aquarium Saturday, Sept 23rd, and will be in house for about a year, with a few planned additions to the fold coming in November and April. Plan a trip and join the effort to keep our oceans alive and well. To learn more about Washed Ashore, visit their website. Then check out the video below for a look at how some of these amazing sculptures get made!