MUSEUM CAMPUS — The newest exhibit at Shedd Aquarium shows how serious water pollution can be. Especially in Lake Michigan.
"Washed Ashore" will formally open Saturday at the Shedd, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive. A collection of 10 gigantic sculptures made from recovered garbage, the exhibit aims to open peoples' eyes about plastic pollution.
"We go for beautiful and horrifying," sculptor Angela Haseltine Pozzi said. "It wakes people up."
This river otter is made up completely of plastics that wound up in the ocean. [DNAinfo photos/David Matthews]
The exhibit arrives amid scary new statistics showing how prevalent plastic pollutants are in the water. Some scientists predict that the amount of plastic in the world's oceans will outweigh fish pound-for-pound by 2050, Shedd officials said.
About 22 million pounds of plastic flow into the Great Lakes each year, and the amount of plastic entering Lake Michigan alone every year is equivalent to 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools' worth of plastic bottles, the Shedd said.
The new exhibit will hopefully "inspire people to pay attention to these things more," said Jaclyn Wegner, the Shedd's director of conservation action.
Materials used in the exhibit range from water bottles and toothbrushes to discarded lighters and flip-flop sandals.
The Shedd is trying to do its part by leading a "Shedd The Straw" campaign urging Chicagoans to ditch plastic straws and stirrers. Some local restaurateurs have followed suit. Americans use 3 million pounds worth of straws every year.
Pozzi, the "Washed Ashore" sculptor, started making her garbage sculptures seven years ago, all in her native Oregon. She's made 70 such sculptures thus far and collected 21 tons of plastic along the West Coast.
"Volunteers just need to pick up garbage and deliver," she said. "You don't need to organize anything."
The exhibit will stay at Shedd for a year, with more sculptures coming in November and April, bringing the total number of pieces to 19.
Sculptor Angela Haseltine Pozzi talks about her art by a plastic sculpture of a seahorse.