Among the Tides : Sand and Plastic Collection
by Elizabeth Ellenwood

project STATEMENT

Microplastics are a common headline in the news. Each week brings new reports on plastic particles in our oceans, rivers, snow, and air. Yet how do we as the general public begin to understand these teeny tiny pieces? To become invested in the minuscule pollutants, we need to physically see them. For my Sand and Plastic Collection, I mimic the tools, materials, and labeling used in scientific labs for my own research focused on the tiny trash.

My collection follows a protocol: see a small plastic fragment, scoop the sand and native particles along with the fragment into a petri dish, chart the latitude and longitude of the sample, and numerically label the sample. Collaborating with researchers and scientists opened my eyes to the importance of classifying the unrecognizable plastics. Once the original material is identified, the information can help inform policies and new source manufacturing.

My goal with my ongoing Sand and Plastic Collection is to create visually engaging imagery with scientific materials to give viewers an entry point into microplastics research. I want to offer my artwork and skills to be a part of the ocean conservation discussion—a part of the momentum for change in my lifetime.

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