ecological art

Cannon Beach classes turn litter into learning

Participants in the Trash Talk series convert beach garbage into art while expanding their environmental awareness

Few things ruin a walk on the beach like seeing it littered with trash. I’ve picked up kite packaging, water jugs, firework debris, shoes, lighters — just about everything but cash. I once came upon an entire fleet of children’s plastic trucks sitting on the sand, waiting for the surf to sweep them out to sea. The kinder, gentler me likes to think that was done in the spirit of sharing with the next kids who came along. The cranky broad in me suspects the culprits were just lazy and disrespectful.

Many of us here on the Coast make it our duty to pick up what we can. In Cannon Beach, they’re taking it one step further with Trash Talks, a nine-part series of classes that guide participants in transforming beach trash into art. The series is presented by the Cannon Beach Arts Association and Haystack Rock Awareness Program and supported by a grant from the Oregon Coast Visitors Association.

A workshop in December turned plastics collected on the beach into holiday ornaments.

“The idea of the classes is to get people to reframe the way they think about beach trash,” said Meagan Sokol, arts education director for the arts association. She noted that besides the visual blight, trash can be deadly to seabirds, which are attracted by bright colors and often ingest it with deadly consequences. She added that the program is trying to get people to think about that, “to think, I can pick this up and do something with it. I can be a beach steward by cleaning up.”

Previous classes have made Christmas decorations using glass ornaments, trash, and beach plastic encapsulated in vegetable-based resin. The latter prevents the continued off-gassing of the plastic. In the Ocean Knots/Karma Mat Making class, students created small mats from fishing rope collected from the beach.

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‘Amazing landscape’ inspires Sitka Center resident artists

The five new residents, who will introduce themselves Wednesday, include an underwater photographer and an artist whose work is linked to animals

Artists Isabelle Hayeur and Felix Prater, who began residencies at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology this week, both journeyed from afar to practice their craft at the retreat dedicated to fostering creativity, curiosity, and education.

They are among five new residents who will stay through May 1. Others are whale researcher Fred Sharpe, writer Matt Jones, and mixed-media artist Brenda Mallory. On Wednesday, Jan. 23, the group will share a bit about themselves at the Resident Show & Tell at 6 p.m. in the Boyden Center.

Residents spend from 2 weeks to 3-1/2 months making art, composing music, writing, or conducting research without the limitation of a product-driven residency, program coordinator Sara Haug said. “Residents are given the time and space to explore creative pursuits that are enhanced by the Sitka Center’s mission of existing in space dedicated to the intellectual pursuits of art, ecology, and the fusion of both.”

Isabelle Hayeur often works in waders in her quest to photograph life underwater.

Residents do not receive a stipend but are provided a private, fully furnished cabin and a studio or workspace for the duration of their residency.

If you can’t make Wednesday’s gathering — apologies for the short notice — you’ll have another chance when residents do final presentations April 27 in the Boyden Studio. In the meantime, here’s a look at two of the artists visiting our coast.

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