It’s the end of the year and I have a handful of posts and projects I intended to present here before the date on the calendar changes. I will do my best to try to catch up. I’ll start with this outing along the Ohio River that happened in November.
I have finally had a bit of a lull from my day job and so I want to start catching up on posting images and stories of my Falls of the Ohio adventures over the last few weeks. It’s also a bit of a relief from the disappointing presidential election we have just endured. Hanging out at the river is always a good tonic for the soul. May it always be that for me and other “river rats” who are drawn to moving waters. For this post, I will concentrate on an assemblage I made using found bottles, jugs, and other plastic containers that I have collected from the banks of the Ohio River in this small state park in southern Indiana.
The Falls of the Ohio State Park is not a very big place as parks go, but it is a very historic and dynamic environment. I remember when I first started coming out here it really bothered me to see so much junk along the riverbank. It still does and I tried standard recycling before settling on making art from what others preferred not to see or acknowledge. What this unique space lacks in size, it makes up for by being a very dynamic environment.
For most of the year, the river behaves itself and lets the Army Corps of Engineers pretend that it is in control of its flow. Every once in a while, however, the river reminds us through flooding and by going around the barriers set in its way to control it. It is during these high water moments that all the rubbish sins of the world come down the river from environs both local and from parts north in our watershed. As this blog documents, I find “stuff” all the time and unfortunately discarded plastic is high on the list.
Here is found plastic that I brought back to my outdoor atelier under the willow trees. I didn’t have to travel far to pick up all I wanted. I realized as I drove to work this morning that my “outdoor atelier” is now under water. A few days ago, we finally received enough rain to raise the level of the river. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have tried to do anything with plastic on this scale. Only when I couldn’t deny the bright, unnatural colors any longer that it occurred to me to try to do something “artistic” with all this waste plastic.
After I have selected a site for a project. I move my materials to the chosen location and when I’m ready, I start sorting objects according to color. I like to reference the electromagnetic spectrum and rainbows because they are about light. Plastic is made from petroleum which is sun energy that has been harnessed by prehistoric plants and stored in their tissues. Over deep time, heat, pressure and the vagaries of geology either liquefies this ancient material into crude oil or compresses it into coal. It is interesting to think about how much our contemporary world is dependent on using the energy from our sun that shone millions of years a go!
It will be a leap for some, but “light” in my mind is not only a part of the problem here, but also implies a solution. We need to do a better job of using our innate creativity to capture the light of today’s sun. Leave that “ancient energy” in the ground and we certainly don’t need anymore plastic. Through a little trial and error, I found an arrangement that suits me. If I am lucky and park visitors or the river decide not to erase what I’ve started then I expand and tinker with my outdoor composition. If I’m correct, then this piece is already gone taken just today by the river. It lasted many weeks longer than I thought it would. Thanks for tagging along with me! Until next time from the Falls of the Ohio.