Vogue.com: – “While vacationing on Eleuthera in the Bahamas, artist Barbara de Vries began collecting colorful bits of plastic she found on the island’s powder-soft beaches. Having been smoothed and contoured by the elements, the synthetic material more resembled small, precious gems. So once she returned home, the Miami native …”
What the fuck?
Barbi? … Miami Native?
Me, a Miami native artist?
I bristled. I bristled good. Like hackles all the way up. As I read the much anticipated Vogue article in postage size on my BB.
While walking through the Lynn University campus where I had just spoken to about 70 lethargic fashion merchandising students (I was told they were designers) but from the show of hands – I speak to the out-of-the-box part of brain – there appeared to be none. And all my “be unique follow your creative genius rara, jokes and digs” fell like dusty hat pins on the well-worn blue and crested gold carpet. Soundless. Echoless.
But out in the parking lot the combination of the dulled crowd and “Miami native” got my goat. Like got my goat by the balls (or teets?)
Was I not Dutch born? A former Paris model? A fashion designer from London? Former director of design @ Calvin Klein in NYC?
My ego was pretzelling out of control.
Then my sobering alter-ego said: “But weren’t you last seen as mother, wife and housefrau in Milford PA?” Huh? You think you are so hot? You should be so lucky! To be in Vogue! Huh? Who do you think you are?
(Do you have that who-do-you-think-you-are voice? I don’t think everyone has that voice, as in *Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen or Sarah Palin?)
I have a big ego and then this who-do-you-think-you-are-voice which makes me rather schizo, inside my head, and sometimes it comes out, and I lash out and then feel guilty, and confuse the hell out of everyone.
Like who’s that guilty nice bitch?
So, as I’m driving back to Miami, I’m arguing with myself. And, as usual, my ego loses and I listen to the alter one.
And I’m starting to like the idea of Miami artist. Like could I be an artist from Miami?
I’m used to shape shifting. I’ve had my incarnations from painfully shy school girl to cosmo model to young London designer to Senior Veepee to country mom of three…
Wasn’t I looking for that new life? That new me? Was I not sick of feeling invisible as a mother?
It took Rickie at Vogue to make me see. To open my eyes to more and endless possibilities of me.
It also took embellishing 750 tees with beach plastic to drive me almost insane.
I spent the last four months doing little else, as my husband, daughters, dog, friends and hairdresser will attest, but, while doing my manual labor, I had time to think.
About beach plastic. About plastic pollution, About its impact, about solutions, about re-purposing some of the plastic that is already out there. How we buy the product within; the laundry detergent, the water, the toothpaste, but do not feel we own its container. Nobody owns the container. Its not our problem. And therein lies the problem. We have come to treat plastic as a cheap, throw-away material. We forget that it was heralded as the substance that would stop us from plundering earth’s natural resources like wood, tortoise, ivory etc.
Remember Mr. Maguire to young Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate?
“I have one word for you young man”
? (Dustin looking dumb)
That was forty years ago and now we’re sinking in the stuff and don’t know how to get rid of it!
Fuck Mr. Robinson and his plastics!
So now its my problem? I thought. As I slowed down to a place of understanding.
And this what I would say to young Dustin:
Dustin, take ten minutes to really scroll through this (art by native artist?) and you will notice that every piece of beach plastic has a mysterious story. How did the barrette, the crate, the tooth brush, the toy soldier, the bead end up on that faraway Bahamian beach? Who owned it? What did they do with it and why did it get into the ocean? Did it come from a cruise ship? A seaside garbage dump, was it casually tossed away or accidentally lost?
And if you slow down enough to think then maybe you can stop just long enough to change the effect of disposable plastic and realize that you can reinvent plastic’s destiny by making it desirable and yes, maybe even beautiful.
Interviews about the process, (thank you Viv and Christine) courtesy of Loomstate: