Coastal Studies' Marine Debris Sculpture Headed to Anchorage


     The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies is nearing the finish line on one of its marine debris art pieces, which is destined for the Anchorage Dena'ina Center in February. 

     What exactly does 12,000 pounds of marine debris look like? You can find the answer to that by visiting the center's workshop space out East End Road, where staff and volunteers have been collecting, cleaning and re-purposing beach garbage since May.  

     Buoys, styrofoam and plastic bottles are some of the common finds, while a few odd collections come from container spills - like the hammock full of Nerf balls, a row of 12 industrial sprayers and the wall hung with metal water bottles. 

     Special Program Coordinator Patrick Chandler has been leading the project, from collection and cleaning to creative construction. He said the a recent coastal walk brought in 3,000 pounds of debris. 

     "We took about 7,000 pounds out last year, " said Chandler. "Luckily, debris from the Japan tsunami event hasn't really come into Kachemak Bay ... but if you swing around the corner at all, it's there."

     The workshop's growing collection of debris is slowly being transformed into art pieces, from a giant jelly fish nearing completion to a flock of murrs whose plastic feathers are still being crafted.

     Artist Angela Pozzi is helping to design and execute the art pieces, including the 12-foot tall, 6-foot wide jellyfish sculpture destined for display during February's Alaska Forum on the Environment at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage. 

     "It includes hundreds of water bottles that have been found on our coastline," said Chandler.

     The jelly isn't the only large piece in the workshop. One corner boasts a colorful gyre inspired  by the workshop that initially led Chandler to create this project. 

     Chandler hopes that the process of debris collection, and the resulting art pieces will be  a long term way to help communities understand the volume and impact of garbage in the ocean  on beaches, as well as being a positive way to re-purpose thousands of pounds of beach debris.

     Over the last seven months multiple school groups and dozens of local volunteers have filtered through the workshop to lend a hand. 

     Chandler plans on having the workspace available until at least fall of 2013, and plans on beginning new sculptures, including an octopus and halibut, in the coming months.

     The  workshop is open from 3:30 to 7:30 Monday through Friday. Call 235-6667 for more information.