So easy to get behind on creating new posts! As it often happens out here at the Falls of the Ohio…more stuff goes on than most people care to read in a single post. This will be a relatively short, but hopefully sweet story. A few weeks a go on a lovely sunny and warm weekend morning I decided to visit the Falls and see how my green bottle piece was surviving. I had positioned it on the other side of a washed out boat dock that was peaking out of a huge pile of driftwood and debris that had washed into here a few months a go. The above photo is how it would first appear to anyone venturing onto this driftwood mound. And, this is how it would appear from the other side looking towards the parking lot and fixed wier dam.
My segregating all the green glass and plastic bottles into the exposed structure of the boat dock was holding up fairly well. I just had a little bit of straightening up to do. The fact I went back to something I had made before was somewhat unusual since I prefer moving forward by making something new. I guess this piece was holding up a little better than some of my other projects by virtue of it being somewhat hidden and few folks want to venture onto this shifting mound of materiality. You can get hurt here if you are not careful and it’s easy to have a foot go through a weak spot on the mound. This has happened to me many times, but knock on wood, I have never been injured by my carelessness. I was admiring my handiwork and whistling to the Baltimore Orioles that were in the nearby cottonwood trees when I saw two people approaching my position.
Here are a couple of pictures of my new friends in action. It’s the mother and daughter team of Marjie and Anika and they were here at the Falls collecting flat, weathered boards for a shed they were making back at their home. When they saw me they came right over to see what I was doing and they saw the bottle piece which they enjoyed. Of course, one thing led to another and we had a great conversation about conservation, recycling, and the value of being outdoors. We even discovered that we have a good friend in common in Claude Stephens who works at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. They were once neighbors. Marjie is a very practical and inventive person and I was particularly struck by how she has been able to eliminate all the soap products from her home save one. I don’t want to mention that product by name, but you are familiar with it. It’s a dishwashing liquid that is especially good at cleaning oil soaked sea mammals and birds. Apparently, by adjusting the strength of the soap by diluting it with water you can have an all-purpose cleanser that’s good for the laundry and can be used for shampoo too! Standing on this debris mound, it would be very easy to show you examples of all the many plastic containers that are used by all the myriad kinds of soap products. Cutting them out of our waste chain would be a dream come true! I showed them images of other projects I had made and stored on my cell phone and they became inspired by some of the figurative pieces I’ve made from Styrofoam. That got this dynamic duo going and they were off to make a Styrofoam sculpture of their very own!
They are an ambitious pair and decided to use the biggest polystyrene chunks they could find on this mound. I helped them set the body upright since it was still a bit heavy with retained water. The figure soon became a robot with found toy balls for eyes and a light bulb stuck on top of its head like a cherry on a sundae! It was a bit tricky keeping one’s balance standing on the driftwood. I find it helps to stand on the bigger logs which are less likely to shift or break. After sticking on a pair of arms, Marjie and Anika left their creation in place. We said our goodbyes and they collected the boards they had chosen for their shed and went home. I stuck around a little longer and took a few more images.
It’s rare when I meet folks out here who not only “get” what I do, but want to participate too. Creativity is a human birthright and can be expressed in so many ways. I especially enjoy it when I meet people who use their creativity to benefit the planet even in the smallest way. Those individuals inspire me. I exchanged email addresses with Marjie and she later sent me pictures of the shed she built at home. As it turns out, this was not the last time I would meet mother and daughter. They came out in support of a Public Art Walk event that was produced by the organization I now work for…the Carnegie Center for Art and History in historic New Albany, Indiana. Work there has been keeping me busy, but I manage to come and visit my beloved Falls and Ohio River whenever opportunity allows. I’ve made other projects lately and look forward to sharing them with you soon. Here’s to everyone having a great summer this year!