Three years ago, artist Dara Herman Zierlein emailed me out of the blue:
Dear My Plastic Free life,
Thank you for all that you do and the amazing resources! Below is a link to my watercolor paintings dealing with multiple themes around pollution and the consequences of using disposable one time use plastic items, like water bottles etc… I am an art activist, My name is Dara. I’m excited to share them with you. Its a very hard to fight this battle alone and I spread the word through my art as I practice eliminating plastic use in my daily life.
The first two images were poignant and beautiful, but it was the third that stabbed my heart and took my breath away.
And then, sadly, the email got buried under a bazillion others.
Last night, finally getting my insane email inbox under control, I stumbled across Dara’s images again and had the same powerful reaction. So I have to share them here today. I asked Dara to send me her thoughts and inspiration for each one. So I’ll stop talking and let her and her art do the rest. (Click each image to see larger.)
And Even The Oceans
A painting of the bright blue ocean teeming with lots of life. Schools of fish swimming in harmonious formation making circles up to where sunshine breaks through the water. The ocean floor is polluted with piles of discarded tires, byproducts of our modern human civilization using the ocean as a dumping ground.
Soon We Won’t Be Fertile
We see the cross section of a landscape, a tiny garbage truck making its way to a landfill with garbage bags and loose debris in a giant pit, some of the waste tangled in the root systems of trees that seem to be cut and falling at this very moment. Among the falling trees a female biological sign, cut at its base, in mid-fall, with tiny women figures trying to grasp on. Way in the background a giant tsunami wave is ripping through orange skies threatening to swallow the poisoned land.
Baby New Years Plastic World
The painting of a baby, sleeping peacefully positioned in the center of the picture, seagulls fly above her and the beach below is polluted with plastic debris that came in from the tide.The inside of her stomach and her ribs are exposed, overflowing with plastic bottles, caps, barbie doll heads and other plastic debris.This painting is about plastic bits found in the bellies of Albatross carcasses that nest in remote bird colonies hundreds of miles off the N.Pacific coast. All victims to human overconsumption and waste.
The story begins for me after doing research on plastic pollution. I used to be a big consumer of water in plastic bottles, spending money everyday on plastic bottled liquids and I got annoyed that my recycle bin was constantly overflowing with bottles. I thought there has got to be a better way, where do these bottles go? I found I had a lack of awareness toward the casual use of single-use plastic products, such as plastic bags, plastic water bottles, straws, lids, tabs, wrappers and packaging material made from plastic, etc. Plastic recycling is frustratingly minimal and not enough to dam the plastic pollution epidemic that is as threatening and impacting as climate change. The plastic gyres polluting the worlds oceans, toxins from petrochemicals leaking into the groundwater and entering our food chain – it is catastrophic.
The more I learned about the devastating impact plastic pollution has on nature, animal and human life, the more I changed my lifestyle, trying to live a plastic free life. I felt I wanted to share my insights and new found knowledge and it inspired me to make a series of paintings about the effects plastic pollution has on air, land, water and life. It is up to the next generation to think it is wrong that food comes wrapped in plastic, because toxins leak from plastic packaging. That it is wrong that grocery shopping comes with multitudes of thin, single use plastic bags when customers could just bring their own reusable bags. That it is wrong that celebrities publicly drink from throw-away styrofoam cups and plastic water bottles when they could drink from glass bottles, and marathon runners in big cities leaves behind a wasteland of plastic cups.
These themes fuel my art! I am hoping through my paintings the message will be seen. I am hoping in my life time I will see people thinking twice before using any single-use plastic articles.
Dara Herman Zierlein is an art educator with a Masters of Art from Columbia University. She is the founder of Art Studio School, writing grants and providing art programs to the community. Dara is a painter and political artist, her subject matter revolves around the paradigm of motherhood, the environmental and political issues from the view point of a woman in American society. Dara frequently exhibits her art internationally. She has been featured and interviewed for various newspapers, magazines and blogs.
Currently, Dara collaborated with Illustrator, Peter O. Zierlein, her husband and they finished their first children’s book ” Don’t Eat the Plastic”, a book to inspire the next generations to be conscious about the environment they live in and to think of alternative ways to eliminate plastic in their daily life. The book is written for elementary age children which she believes holds the future for our oceans and the planets survival.
To see her work and exhibition list please visit: http://motherstime.blogspot.com.