Last week, Miami was invaded by artists, collectors, fashionistas, party crashers, and those who had no idea what they just stumbled into. Amidst this week-long revelry (at times overwhelmingly self-indulgent) was the Arts for a Better World exhibit to help keep our heads on straight.
We saw pictures from Barbara before heading down south, but looking at the Plastic Is Forever installation and interacting with it was something else. Like every exhibit attendee who came by, we were drawn to it immediately, poking and examining the structure to see if those are indeed plastic water bottles and shyly peeking in to see what was going on in this curious temporary room.
A rainbow presentation of beach plastic and Loomstate tees.
Much like the beaded tees, the walls with light shining through and reflected every which way, look and feel delicate despite their fabrication - plastic, one of the most indestructible materials made by man. Barbara tackles the issue of plastic waste one fashionista at a time by collecting beach plastic and incorporating them into garments, creating stylish and playful pieces that look as if they were decorated with corals and stones. Even though plastic eroded by the elements are broken down into fragile pieces that sometimes disintegrates at a light touch, Barbara explains, the plastic never really goes away. It doesn't disappear as if it were never there, it simply breaks into tiny pieces that goes into the water, the air and the surrounding environment, and eventually into our bodies.
Barbara de Vries in a black Loomstate tee of her own design.
One of the more surprising facts about the project are the colors of the plastic. Many have asked why or how they're dyed to match the bright colors of the Loomstate BLANK tees. The truth is there is so much beach plastic, from the beads to the fishing ropes she uses as threads, that she has no trouble finding pieces in any color ever created. She even has a color "card", a string of plastic pieces she put together to show all the shades and tints of plastic she's found. It's crazy, amazing and disheartening!
Barbara with Julie Gilhart in Loomstate!
Barbara said so herself - she would rather not have had the materials for this project in the first place, but with plastic waste as an endless resource, she'd rather put it to use for educational purposes. A truly illuminating experience, the Plastic Is Forever installation was quite a site. We hope Barbara gets to put the structure up elsewhere - we think a beach would be fitting, no?
Check out our adventures in Miami last week and more photos of the Plastic Is Forever installation here, and Barbara's blog here! Stay tuned for the collection's launch date and interviews with designer Barbara de Vries.