High school students at Colegio New City School in Long Beach were deeply affected by the Academy Award-winning documentary "The Cove" -- a compelling look at the 23,000 dolphins slaughtered every year in a cove in Japan.
So when their humanities teacher, Don Grose, asked the students to create sculptures using recycled materials, they set out to create a plastic dolphin sculpture, shown swimming through a sea of plastic, made entirely from 23,000 discarded water bottles.
"We talked about making art that has a message behind it," Grose says. "We decided to make an installation that would raise people's awareness not just about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, but how all of these plastic water bottles are destroying coastal waters and polluting oceans."
The students collected and used nearly 2,000 bottles and were pledged 22,000 more from the Cal State Long Beach Recycling Center.
The 23,000 Project will be unveiled at a Phantom Galleries space at 360 E. 3rd St., Long Beach, during the Green Long Beach Festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 10 pm. Saturday. The artists' reception will be Friday, 3 to 5 p.m.
I showed my Art class this film a few weeks ago when we began talking about making sculptures using recycled materials. We also talked about making Art that has a message behind it. Then we saw the film and the ideas began to fuse. The metaphors began connecting. We decided to make an installation that would raise peoples’ awareness about this dolphin slaughter, and to show just how polluted our worldwide coastal waters are becoming.
The number 23,000 seemed way too abstract. To make it more concrete I wanted students to gather simple, free objects and try to total 23,000. The very next day there was a storm that came in, and I noticed all of the trash that washed in from the storm drains – especially all of the plastic bottles. That was it! We would collect water bottles. I remembered another film called “Paperclips” in which a small elementary school had gathered 11 million paperclips to concretize the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. If they could gather 11 million paperclips, then we could surely gather 23,000 water bottles.
So that’s where we are right now – in the midst of collecting 23,000 water bottles.
We are also designing our installation. We’ve made the framework for a life-sized dolphin and are covering it in bottles. We are hanging all of the other bottles floor to ceiling inside the classroom. Our plastic dolphin will eventually be swimming through a sea of plastic, once our installation is completed. The students have painted a paper mural in our school to inform the entire school of their project. They have also advertised in our partner middle and elementary schools to aid in the collection of plastic bottles.
We are in the midst of looking for a local gallery to house our installation.
But we can’t do this alone. What we need is some help from the community, namely:
- Collecting empty bottles and bringing them into the school. Participating in the 5K/10K will be incredible
- Donating hot glue sticks and plain white string.
- Helping us find a suitable gallery space.
- Joining us in this effort to raise peoples’ awareness (if you have any connections to newspapers or other media)
Any help that we receive from our community, whether it be collecting bottles, spreading the word or helping us with the resources as outlined about, would be greatly appreciated. If you have any questions or would like to stay up to date with our progress, please call myself or Ernesto, media and special events point person for our school
I thank you in the thousands!
Humanities/ English Teacher
Colegio New City High School
Immediately get in touch with our project manager, Don Grose, by using the contact page.