“Is it Hurt?”

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When we were asked to create an art project using used wine bottles, I immediately thought about trash and sea creatures. One vivid image that came to me was from a viral video on Facebook. A sea turtle who was terrified and in pain from a straw being lodged into its nose. Some concerned individuals tried to free it from its plastic torture device. My art piece consists of a beautiful fish choking on a bottle with toxic chemical oozing out from its mouth. I wanted to create a disturbing and quite gory image, which I hope will raise a sense of sympathy, guilt and awareness from the audience. I want the audience to look at this fish and think about the amount of trash they produce in their lifestyle, as well as where it will go after being tossed away. Through the fish’s expression, the audience should feel the agony as it's helplessly struggling to survive. In our everyday life, humans tend to disconnect their sense of responsibility with their waste. When something is thrown away, people usually think someone else will take care of it and don't see the need to know where their waste will go and be processed afterward. Having a potential consequence to their actions in a physical form might help close that gap and provoke awareness as well as urgency. The audience has the power and option to watch the fish struggle and die or help it by changing a small habit in their life. For example, use reusable water bottle instead of purchasing plastic water bottle, repurpose instead of throwing something away, and becoming more aware of the amount of waste they produce, just to name a few. Originally, I planned to use paper-mâché to create the fish. However, I didn’t think this option could withstand outdoor environment. I choose to repurpose a Windex bottle because it would help reduce waste and connected to the intention of this art project. The toxic substance that comes out of the fish’s mouth reminds the audience that the waste we produce is not only a solid but also in liquid form. That can be tied to laundry detergent, oven cleaner solution, and even facial cleansers with microbeads. All of these products can pollute and harm the environment. A simple change can create a huge impact on the environment. Becoming more mindful of how your waste can impact the environment and other species means you’ve already taken the first step. However, being aware is not enough and a small change will cost you nearly nothing to protect the environment which is also your own and other species’ homes.

I think many people don’t recognize the relationship between us and the environment. Many might think the environment means nature, tree, animals, the Great Lake, and etc. The idea of removing oneself has become the norm. However, we’re living in the environment. It provides us a place to stay, food and water, air, clothes, and other essentials. Thus, we need to take care of it. As a social pollinator, I hope that my creativity and art would provoke others’ feelings and ultimately lead to a change. If a person doesn’t want to take action, I still hope that this art piece leaves them something to think about, a seed of action that hopefully will germinate one day. Being able to make someone stop and become more aware of their actions regarding producing waste to me is already a success.