“Trash” exhibit at the New Children’s Museum inspires and educates
By Will Bowen | Downtown News
Did you know 66 percent of the 4.9 pounds of trash you produced today could have been recycled? Instead, all of it may have made its way to the Miramar Landfill, which takes in 7,800 pounds of trash a day. This is three times the amount that came in daily during the 1960s.
This is one of the issues addressed in the art show “Trash” at the New Children’s Museum, located at 200 W. Island Ave. in the Marina district. The show opened in October 2011 and is a popular one, attracting adults and children who can play with the artwork in a hands-on manner to facilitate learning.
There are 12 art exhibits by 12 different artists in the show. Each utilizes trash for materials and addresses the theme of the growing trash problem in the world. The exhibits are meant to heighten awareness, so viewers may see new possibilities to prevent an ecological disaster brought on by excess trash in the environment.
“These trash-based art works help us to look at trash in different ways,” said Albert Songalia, a guide and facilitator at the museum. “The artistic aspect helps people to take in information about the trash problem in a way that… better speaks to them.”
A second New Children’s Museum guide, Breyanna Lyles, said the exhibits are a creative way to start conversations with the children who visit the museum. “It’s so nice to see the kids being creative, especially how they use the space and in terms of the questions they ask,” she said.
Some of the exhibits in “Trash” include “Three Horned Beast and Baby Beast,” which are blue and purple exoskeleton skyscrapers that children can play under; “The Complex,” an imagined community in Tijuana made out of plastic bottles filled with colored plastic strips; and “Stereo Trash,” a set of five stereoscopic viewers that children can look through to view 3-D art images of trash and recycling economies.
Other notable exhibits include “The Secret Garden,” a walk-through maze based on old clothing that is shipped abroad; “Megalithic Transponder,” a futurist vision of a scientific sculpture made out of Styrofoam containers and cardboard boxes; and “The Midden Project,” four years worth of trash collected by two sisters, suspended from a ceiling in a fishing net.
The exhibits “encourage parents and children to talk about the issue of trash,” Jorge Hernandez said. Hernandez is a New Children’s Museum guide as well, and said he thinks the exhibits are positive for facilitating conversation.
“Sometimes the kids are more aware of the problem than their parents,” he said. “The kids often like to sing slogans such as ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,’ which they learned at school.”
An exhibit designed to appeal particularly to adults is “Pictures of Garbage.” It consists of a set of large photographs of artistically arranged debris taken from large landfills in Brazil. Workers, known as “catadores,” pick through trash looking for recyclable materials to sustain their families.
The artist, Vic Muniz, hired several catadores to arrange trash in a pattern, approximately the size of a room, to create portrait-like images. The images are duplicates of classical portraits, like “The Death of Marat.” As part of the exhibit, Muniz invites visitors to compose their own portraits, using broken plastic toys in light boxes, similar to his technique.
“It is by empowering the viewer that art achieves its miraculous force,” Muniz said in a press release for the show.
The New Children’s Museum is open Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information visit thinkplaycreate.org or call (619) 233-8792.