Art with a message arrives at Green Bay Botanical Garden


By Donna Schuld

GREEN BAY – Giant animal sculptures made from discarded flip flops and other plastic waste will give visitors to the Green Bay Botanical Garden something to ponder this summer.

The essential element of the eight pieces in the exhibition, “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea”, involves plastic waste being washed up by bodies of water.
Making its debut in Wisconsin on May 8, “Washed Ashore” will raise awareness of the problem of plastic waste.

Linda Gustke, director of education and guest experience at the Green Bay Botanical Garden, said she hopes visitors will think about their own impact on the environment when they interact with the exhibit.

“We want to be able to relate this message of plastic in the ocean to plastic pollution issues right here in our Great Lakes, in our rivers, in our streams, in all waterways,” said Gustke. “This is also the mission of ‘Washed Ashore’. It’s not just the oceans, all waterways have plastic pollution that causes problems for animals, but also for people and the land, and really everything in the ecosystem. “

This traveling exhibit, which is included in the regular admission price, has made its way to other botanical gardens, and even the Smithsonian.

With creatures like fish and otters, “Washed Ashore” brings a seemingly distant problem to Midwestern viewers.

“For this particular exhibit, we’ve actually commissioned the creation of a brand new sculpture that will be at the Green Bay Botanical Garden, making its preview debut titled“ Stanley the Lake Sturgeon ”to really help link this issue to our Great Lakes, ”says Gustke.

Although these sculptures are on a large scale, she said Wisconsin waters deal with the problem in a much smaller form.

“The biggest plastic pollution problem in the Great Lakes is microplastics,” she said. “We don’t see as many of those flip flops and water bottles washed up on the shores of the Great Lakes, but it’s the microplastics – tiny pieces of plastic 5 millimeters or less in length. They’re all broken up into bigger chunks and that’s really the biggest problem here in the Great Lakes.

Gustke recognizes the effect this problem can have on a viewer.

“I don’t know if there will ever be a time when we don’t use plastic, but try not to get overwhelmed by this,” she said. “It takes small steps to bring about change. It can be an overwhelming experience for people, but we want to educate them and help them find ways to make small changes at least to begin with and then bigger changes in their lives. We can all help reduce these single-use plastics. “

Gustke said the Green Bay Botanical Garden will try to set a good example by reducing the amount of plastic used by the public.

“We’re actually going to be replacing most of our plastic beverage containers at our events and shifting to aluminum-based items, mostly cans,” Gustke said.

Asked about ways gardeners could use less plastic, she comes up with a tip that could save money as well.

“A lot of times people will use landscaping fabric to help keep weeds away, but you can also use cardboard, which will naturally decompose and then help bring nutrients back to the soil, which this landscaping fabric is usually made from. plastic, ”said Gustke.

She said a “Washed Ashore” treasure hunt and discovery boxes will help children and adults participate in this educational exhibit.

She said excitement is building as the exhibition, founded by artist and teacher Angela Haseltine Pozzi, debuts in May.

“As part of ‘Washed Ashore’ we are also celebrating 25 years of being in the community, so there will be more opportunities to learn about our history and help us preserve this land for the next 25+ years” , says Gustke.

The exhibition will be on display until September 26.

For more information on the exhibition, CLICK HERE.

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