Published October 21, 2021
An art installation by artist and alumnus Alexis Oltmer (BFA), commissioned by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and funded by NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, is open for permanent exhibition at the Aquarium of Niagara. The piece features depictions of several local or Great Lakes fish and aquatic creatures created out of plastic pollution trash from local freshwater sources and sealed in resin.
"The colors of the pollution evoke playful, energetic, and visually adventurous feelings, but this fondness quickly fades with the realization that the art has been created with trash turned pollution"
“An Unnatural Diet highlights the reality of freshwater plastic pollution in our local ecosystems. The plastic pollution seen in the walleye, rainbow smelt, and phytoplankton were collected by the artist from Lake Erie, and by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper from the Niagara River. These species were chosen because they are consumers of plastic pollution and can be found in our local waterways. Using molds, Oltmer captured the pollution inside resin, forming transparent specimens. The colors of the pollution evoke playful, energetic, and visually adventurous feelings, but this fondness quickly fades with the realization that the art has been created with trash turned pollution,” the interpretive sign next to the piece states.
“Plastic is by far the heaviest deposit of trash pollution we find in our cleanups of the shorelines and in-water of our local freshwater systems,” explained Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka. “Plastic in our waterways can release chemicals into the water, and when they breakdown they act like sponges for other toxins. More attention is needed to this growing threat, and we are thrilled to bring Alexis’ artwork that does just that into the spotlight.”
“Making art with fresh water plastic pollution has been an exciting process which has left me with many questions regarding the origin story of the products turned pollution. The life cycle of each pollution object began with an idea, created through design, supply chains, approval processes, production, advertising then put onto shelfs and brought into our lives via consumption. There is a human aspect behind the pollution, that I enjoy capturing visually and physically as “time capsules”, relics of the capitalocene, industry and consumption. By creating art with these objects I question the “original use” of these plastic pollution objects and create a new narrative which swifts the conversation that questions the capitalocene, demands corporate responsibility and encourages community action.”
701 Whirlpool St,
Niagara Falls, NY 14301
An Unnatural Diet Debut
Sat, Oct 23, 2021 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM (EDT)
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