Artist United States www.sandrahansen.com Residency Period: April 2018
When thousands of fish died in Lake Erie in 2014. I began investigating water damage in local waterways, the Great Lakes, and the Pacific Gyre. I learned that ships cause 20% of the garbage while 80% comes from litter, industrial discharges, and garbage mismanagement. Pollution from chemicals and other anthropomorphic materials such as plastics and fibers combined with overfishing in our lakes, rivers, and oceans leads to fish extinctions and a loss of biodiversity in the water. As humans drink the water and eat the fish we are ingesting microplastics and polyester fabric fibers into our bodies. This is leading to endocrine disruption, hormonal changes, and increased cancers. My research convinced me to become an environmental artist. “Our Exquisite Pollution” became a series of paintings, sculptures, and handmade papers examining the damage to our water. Abstracted water is the motif in all of my art, whether it is in the form of waves, bubbles, rivers, fish, or the sea. This series also forced me to examine my own environmental practices in my home and studio to become a zero-waste artist.
Catch 1and Catch 2 are two pieces in the “Our Exquisite Pollution” series. These large handmade papers are infused with fishing nets, found natural and manmade objects. Both pieces contain fishing nets, thin-walled single-use plastic bags, and natural materials. The insidious nature of plastics in the water is inherent in each plastic bag used in these paintings. Each plastic bag represents the buying choices that we make and the horrific quandary of single-use plastic products.