Myrtle Beach exhibition seeks ocean plastic pollution awareness

Great Egret by Kirkland Smith is one of the pieces of art on display at Myrtle Beach's Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum as part of the “Can’t You Sea | Ocean Plastic ARTifacts” exhibit on Saturday. The exhibit includes the sculpture donated by North Myrtle Beach-based Environmental Sculptures, art works by various artists and a lobby installation by teen volunteers called the GenZ Curates project. The show lasts through Sept. 8 at the museum, which is located at 3100 South Ocean Blvd. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

An art exhibit in Myrtle Beach aims to raise awareness of marine plastic pollution. 

“Can’t You Sea | Ocean Plastic ARTifacts” features work by artists Dianna Cohen, Sayaka Ganz, Alejandro Durán, Aurora Robson, Kirkland Smith and Pam Longobardi centered on this theme, many making use of disposed plastic. A grand opening was held Saturday at Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum.

“I think it’s really the heart of this planet,” Longobardi, an Atlanta, Georgia, resident said of the ocean. “I think it’s in deep trouble and it’s calling out to lots of people.”

The art is vivid and meticulously crafted.

Lightbulbs wash up on the shore in one piece. Another employs use of aluminum cans and other materials to illustrate koi ponds. One presents life vests collected in Greece held together by thread.

Household objects like a small toy, toothbrush and remote are among the items used for some of the exhibition’s works, and several plastic items were collected by locals at beaches and rivers as part of a plastics drive for use in the exhibition.

An activist, Longobardi said she has a connection to the water, her father having served as a beach lifeguard and her mother a becoming a state diving champion in Delaware.

She hopes the creations available for public viewing will prompt visitors to think about use of plastic and its overall impact.

The museum’s executive director Patricia Goodwin noted that in hosting the exhibition, the establishment looked to be a part of that dialogue.

“It’s turned invisible really,” Longobardi said regarding plastic items. “I think people just don’t even notice it anymore.”

To complement the showcase, thirty-six painted planters that use plastic bottles as containers line the wall of the museum lobby behind the reception desk. 

Aided by curator Liz Miller and education coordinator Tracey Roode, area teen volunteers worked to design, create and install the planters as part of the GenZ Curates project.

“The goal is to emphasize the problem and let people see how big of an issue it really is,” said Eli Kovac, a 15-year-old Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach student who chose and curated the kinds of plants displayed.

Additionally, an octopus sculpture by North Myrtle Beach-based Environmental Sculptures was unveiled outside the museum. The octopus is named Ringo. Community members filled the previously hollow piece with plastic items Saturday.

Longobardi said the showcase being at a location off the coast is vital.

She pointed out that the seaside is where one can prevent a plastic item from drifting into ocean waters.

“I don’t think there could be a more important message to come from the show in a museum in this location,” she said.

The exhibit is on display through Sept. 8 at the museum, which is located at 3100 South Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach. Admission is free.

Janet Morgan is the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald. Contact her at 843-488-7258 or at janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com.

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