'Plastic Fantastic?' Exhibit Shows How It Isn't

Jack and Kim Johnson and their Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation are funding a new project to support art and the environment

At the Honolulu Museum's Spalding House, a new exhibit titled Plastic Fantastic? includes an interactive component in which area schoolchildren are invited to create their own art pieces by stringing together 1-ounce fragments of pre-drilled plastic debris collected during beach cleanups throughout Hawaii.

One ounce represents the amount of disposable plastics an average American uses every three hours.

Visitors to the museum may already be primed to take in the heavy facts about plastic waste because the issue is gaining momentum, thanks to news of a new report by a recent World Economic Forum study.

It predicts the world’s oceans will be filled with more plastics than fish by 2050.

These and other fact bombs undergird Plastic Fantastic's objective to give area schoolchildren and visitors alternative looks at how and why we use plastics—with special emphasis on single-use disposables:

Plastic production has grown twentyfold, from 15 million tons in 1964 to 311 million tons in 2014. The volume of throwaway plastics is also growing, according to reports, with about 8 million tons of it ending up in the ocean every year.


Honolulu Museum of Art

Q+A: Dianna Cohen on Art and Plastic

By Lesa Griffith

The current Spalding House exhibition Plastic Fantastic? is about getting you to think about plastic—the role it plays in your life, and role you play in plastic’s life. Curator Aaron Padilla does that through art. While you mull plastic over in your brain, one artist in the show is clear on what she thinks about plastic.

Dianna Cohen uses the humble plastic bag as her medium  READ MORE...

Musician Jack Johnson, along with his wife Kim, has long been promoting the reduction of single-use plastic consumption through lifestyle changes. In advance of the show's opening Feb. 3, Johnson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about his recent sailing trip with 5 Gyres Institute from Miami to the Bahamas.

"We got to the bluest water I’d ever seen,” he said. “But here’s the problem: Hour after hour, every single trawl we put out, for seven days straight, you would think you didn’t see anything and sure enough, every time you pulled it out, you could fill your hand with microdebris."

The exhibit opens February 3 and runs through July 10, 2016.

From the Honolulu Museum:

Plastic Fantastic? focuses on plastic—its history, the scientific breakthroughs in its development as a material, and how it can be used to create not just water bottles and toothbrush handles, but also works of art, thanks to engineering and technology. The exhibition also addresses plastic’s effect on global culture and our environment. 

On view will be works from the museum’s collection that illustrate the history of plastic as an art-making material. Also on view will be collages by Los Angeles–based artist Dianna Cohen (co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition) that speak about a consumer culture born out of the ubiquity and proliferation of plastics. Two vastly different sculptural installations by New York–based artists Aurora Robson and native Hawai'ian artist Maika‘i Tubbs make references to a new world being formed and created with the man-made material. Also on view is the textile work of German artist Swaantje Guntzel that reveals the global reach of plastic pollution through visual mapping. Rounding out Plastic Fantastic? is a series of photographs by Seattle-based artist Chris Jordan that illustrates the sober reality of what plastic pollution ultimately does to living creatures.

The creations by schoolchildren will be integrated into a public art installation to be unveiled during the World Conservation Congress to be held in Honolulu in September.


Photo: Midas, 2011 by Aurora Robson. Plastic debris (PET), aluminum rivets, tinted polycrylic and mica powder.