In part one of a CBS 4 special report, we introduced you to the founders of Washed Up Texas, an organization using art to raise awareness about the plight our oceans are facing due to pollution. Now, it’s time to see how their creations come to life.
According to co-founder Sarah Kulungowski, “It will take hours to clean a bucket of trash.”
“We bring trash here to soak it in barrels before we clean it, because the trash has a lot of microorganisms on it. We have to kill it so we put vinegar in the water in all these barrels here and soak it,” she says.
Then everything must be thoroughly scrubbed and sanitized by hand.
“It’s very, very labor intensive to clean. Bottle caps and lighters, they’re the two most common things that we have,” she says.
The pieces are then separated by color and brought to Washed Up Texas’ co-founder Connie Lovell’s backyard studio.
“This is my wicked band saw. I work with this thing all day long when I’m making a sculpture,” says Lovell.
That’s where she breathes life into them.
“Most people will think I’m kind of kooky but they do talk to me,” she says.
And bins are filled to the brim with the materials, which will be attached to wire mesh skin sections of 55 gallon drums, and PVC pipe skeletons. While power drills drive the screws to hold the pieces in place.
“Most of the sculpture called Funky Trash Fish is made with Clorox bottles from Mexico,” says Lovell.
The heavier works are placed on metal casters making them more mobile.
“Every screw is stainless steel and there are over 4,000 screws on her,” she says.
Connie’s first creation, was Dolly, a labor of love that took four months to sculpt. She’s currently on display at South Padre Island’s Native Plant Center.
“Because it’s a cute little dolphin people are open, people are smiling, they’re laughing. And you take things in when you’re smiling and laughing and so you take it in, and you’re like, ‘oh my gosh.’ So you’re open to it and then you find out, it’s made of trash,” says Lovell.
With a child’s car seat for a jaw, teeth chiseled from a laundry basket, and bottle caps for eyes, and anything else you can imagine.
“Once you get their face and their eyes on, then it’s just so much fun because we talk all day long. Like Humberto, he’s the sassiest blue heron I’ve ever been around,” says Lovell.
He’s called Valley International Airport home since early this summer stopping travelers in their tracks.
According to Marv Esterly, V.I.A.’s Director of Aviation, “A lot of people really enjoy looking at it. It’s a beautiful piece of art and it’s got a very, very important message keeping our beaches clean.”
A financial agreement with the airport is helping to partially fund Washed Up’s work. Their plan is to eventually have 20 sculptures displayed in different public places on a rotating basis, which they hope will help draw more attention to the current crisis.
Lovell says, “We really have to find a solution for the generations after us. That is the main reason for doing this, is to say this is what’s happening and it’s done in a fun way, but this is also just me screaming, going we have got to do something. For our children and our grandchildren. Sorry I get very emotional about it.”
Connie isn’t the first one to create this type of artwork. She was inspired by a group from Oregon called Washed Ashore. All of the sculptures including Dolly are for sale and Washed Up Texas is also looking for volunteers.
If you’d like to help you’ll find more information below: