New exhibit celebrates World Oceans Day

Fifth graders from Mintie White Elementary School created these weaves, featuring animals from local sloughs, from recycled materials. (Contributed photo)

SANTA CRUZ—A new exhibit will soon be on display at the Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, featuring original pieces made by artists from across the Monterey Bay Area.

“From Ocean Trash to Ocean Inspiration” opens on June 7. The show highlights how artists can transform trash—especially plastics—into handmade art. Organizers hope that the show will inspire more ocean conservation. 

“We wanted to start up a discussion about plastic pollution and how pervasive it is in our lives,” said O’Neill Sea Odyssey Executive Director Rachel Kippen, who helped put together the exhibit.

The show includes works from individual artists as well as groups—including Kate Freels’ 5th grade class from Mintie White Elementary School in Watsonville.

Students collaborated with Kippen on a series of woven pieces made from plastic—some of which were repurposed from Pajaro Valley agriculture fields.

According to Kippen, many of the students were already knowledgable about pollution, especially when it came to farming waste. They chose to feature animals prominent in local sloughs.

“I don’t think people know how aware kids can be,” she said. “They can see what’s happening around them.”


ABOVE: This artwork by Shannon McCarthy will be on display at “From Ocean Trash to Ocean Inspiration,” a new exhibit opening June 7 at the Santucary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz. (Contributed photo)

“From Ocean Trash to Ocean Inspiration” is the brainchild of Chelsea Prindle, Manager of the Sanctuary Exploration Center. Kippen said that Prindle wanted to create something unique that drew attention to local conservation issues.

Many of the artists involved, Kippen added, have incorporated their own experiences with conservation into their work.

“It’s a really unique thing, seeing people take this waste and creating something beautiful from it,” she said.

Other participating artists and groups include Glenda Lee Mahoney, Shannon McCarthy, No Trace Shop, Bottleworks451 Recycled Art, Leslie Morgan Art, The Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition, and the City of Santa Cruz Master Recyclers.

An opening celebration will be held on June 7 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Sanctuary Exploration Center, 35 Pacific Ave. The free, family-friendly event will give guests a chance to chat with artists and other ocean advocates, participate in hands-on activities and learn about waste reduction.

“We hope people come and enjoy themselves, but also leave knowing more about how our actions affect the oceans--and the planet as a whole,” Kippen said.