Picturing Our Ocean's Future
I am a huge fan of murals and wall art and graffiti. So, how excited was I when the New York Aquarium announced a mural competition this summer?
Here is the spectacular new mural, made up of 4 different panels:
But first, how did we get here? The old New York Aquarium mural, on the wall of the Education Building, looked like this:
The old mural showed the history of Coney Island and the history of the aquarium. I always loved walking past it! It was painted in 2006 by over 100 volunteers! But, particularly recently, it started to look faded. So, the aquarium decided to use the wall to talk about the problem with plastics.
Regular readers of Fins Down! know that ocean plastics are a danger. Some scientists think that if the ocean could contain more plastics than fish by 2050 if we don't do something now!
All summer long, I watched the murals go up on the wall, with more detail and more color each time I visited. Here was the beginning of the process:
I was fascinated to see how the murals emerged from the outlines and splashes of color. The walls are huge; there was a LOT of space to cover! I was also intrigued by the story each mural told as it unfolded.
Danielle Mastrion's piece shows all of the plastics that could threaten our oceans as a fish is made out of bottles and other plastics. This piece has a very hopeful theme, however. It is based on the idea of a phoenix, a bird that rises from ashes. So, we see the fish magically turning from plastic back into a fish. I think Mastrion is showing how we can give the ocean back to the fish and other sea creatures that live there if we try harder to eliminate plastics! I love the colors in her piece and the bubbles with information about plastics in our oceans.
Artist Sheena Wong Shue was focused on how plastics are crowding fish and sea life out of our oceans because there isn't enough room!
I love all of these murals. But I have to say that artist Tom Manco's vision of ocean animals turning into plastic really caught my imagination. All through the mural you can see the individual plastics that we might use in day to day life: razors, bottles, plastic soda can rings, cups, forks, and knives reshaping the oceans. Here are a few close ups of the mural:
Manco's mural is like an Eye-Spy game. Nothing is what it appears to be. You think you're looking at a dolphin. Then you realize it's a "bottle nose" dolphin with a real water bottle for a nose.
Here is Manco's full mural:
I love how all of these murals helped me to stop and think about my own plastic use (something you know I am very interested in). If you get a chance and you're in New York City, head down to Coney Island and check out these new murals. I'm also happy to report that they left 1 piece of the old mural as well, which I think fits in nicely.
Which mural do you like the best? Do they give you any ideas for saving the oceans and reducing our use of plastic?