Trash from every corner of the globe can find its way to the sea. Scientists warn that in 30 years, there could be more plastics in the world’s oceans by weight than there are fish. Some of that ocean trash has migrated from the Pacific Northwest to the Norfolk Botanical Garden as part of the exhibit Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
Inspired art with an important message
Artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi grew up in Oregon, where she spent her childhood playing in the Pacific Ocean and exploring the Puget Sound, experiences that inspired her career. For more than a decade, she’s been picking up trash — plastic bottles, toys, flip-flops, rope — from Oregon’s beaches and turning it into colorful large-scale sculptures, often ones inspired by marine life, like jellyfish and penguins. Washed Ashore will bring 15 of these eclectic sculptures to the Norfolk Botanical Garden, which itself is located about a mile from the beach.
“With all of this beautiful artwork that she’s made from trash, she has this amazing message to help save the sea,” says Kelly Welsh, the Garden’s marketing and communications director. “This exhibit was very enticing to us, not only because it’s visually pleasing — these pieces are gorgeous — but because of the overall message. It really aligns with the Garden’s mission of environmental stewardship and taking action.”
Although Norfolk Botanical Garden encompasses 175 picturesque acres, most pieces from Washed Ashore are displayed in the Garden’s Enchanted Forest, a one-mile loop on a peninsula thick with trees for plenty of shade. A massive eagle sculpture will join the menagerie later this summer: The birds were on the brink of extinction throughout much of the last century, but thanks to environmental efforts, Virginia is now home to more bald eagle pairs than almost any other state in the nation. It’s an encouraging reminder that positive change is possible — and one that Welsh thinks Washed Ashore conveys magnificently.
“I hope that people come to the Garden, enjoy themselves, see this beautiful exhibit and walk away and make a difference,” she says. “Even one change, one little change — not using single-use plastics, taking a reusable bag to the grocery store — all of these little things can really make a huge difference.”
Enjoy the exhibit and stay in Norfolk for a weekend of fun
Keep an eye out for programming related to Washed Ashore, including family-friendly events like scavenger hunts that will take place in the WOW Children’s Garden. “It’s definitely worth more than one trip,” Welsh says. “We hope that people will come from Richmond and beyond to visit. We have beaches all around us, and the Garden is ever-changing. There’s a lot to see in Norfolk, and we’re so close to Virginia Beach. Stay overnight and make a weekend trip of it! I think that this exhibit will definitely connect with a lot of people.”
Washed Ashore is open through October 31 and was made possible thanks to local sponsors, including the Batten Family Educational Achievement Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. Tickets to the Garden are $13 to $15. Learn more at norfolkbotanicalgarden.org.