Since 1999 Richard and Judith Lang have focused their attention on just 1000 yards of tide line where they have collected plastic washing ashore on Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Although the news about plastic pollution is dire, they bring the excitement of scouting for treasures and the pleasure of the creative life to an otherwise difficult topic.
"Here is the Sea brings together artworks that use the ocean and its coasts as a site for investigating the fraught relationship between humans and nature. Richmond is a city with thirty-two miles of shoreline, and through this exhibition visitors to the Richmond Art Center are invited to reflect on what is at stake and what has already been lost in our local maritime environment. The exhibition presents a range of environmental work, from political pieces with critical messages for social action, to works exploring more subtle, personal impulses that shape our relationship to water.
Artists: Stephen Bruce, Christy Chan, Tanja Geis, Marie-Luise Klotz, Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, Love the Bulb Performers, Katie Revilla, Jos Sances, Dimitra Skandali"
Curator Amy Spencer was brilliant in her selection of artists and her arrangement of the exhibition space. On the wall that spans one side of the gallery is Jos Sances masterwork The Whale and just opposite on a free-free-standing black wall are three of our photographs of single nurdles each floating in a sea of rich black. With his to-scale scratch-board drawing of one of the largest creatures in the ocean and our enlargements 300x of the smallest pieces of plastic in the ocean, the compare and contrast are extreme.
Thanks to Noah and Kris Lang at Electric Works for their expert digital imaging and printing who made our grain of sand BB-sized nurdles look awesome at 32” x 32”.
Talk about apocalyptic sublime — the pesky poisonous pre-production plastic pellets look sooo beautiful. The luminous sheen of the nurdles floating in the thick saturation of the black on black background.
Our photographs are titled:
Oma # I Oma #II and Golden Seven
“Oma” (grandmother) and “Opa” (grandfather) are used as pet names for grandmother or grandfather in Germany, Estonia, the Netherlands.
-oma. A suffix meaning “tumor” or “cancer,” as in carcinoma. Often, the suffix is added to the name of the affected body part, as in lymphoma, sarcoma, carcinoma.
“word-forming element, from Greek -oma , with lengthened stem vowel + -ma , suffix forming neuter nouns and nouns that indicate result of verbal action (equivalent of Latin -men ); especially taken in medical use as "morbid growth, tumor.”
With OMA as the title for our nurdle photos we are combining two different (sweet and sour) and seemingly disparate uses of the word. Nurdles are the ur-source, the grandmother, of all manufactured items made from plastic and they are one of the most pernicious, cancerous pieces of plastic in the ocean.
To show nurdles actual size, two gold rings with nurdles replacing the diamonds and a scatter of nurdles are presented like rare jewels. Lest we forget:
Like diamonds, plastic is forever….
In the entry way corridor our banner No Room for Sand greets visitors to the exhibition:
These days it is all too easy to fall into a pit of despair but when we meet up with some pro-active students from UC Berkeley our hopes rise. We are happy to be asked again this year to add our plastic to the mix of presentations, March 23 at the 2nd Earth Action Initiative.
As an artist one of the great rewards is to have a vision then be able to realize it. The double-triple reward is to have encouragement and support to do so.
Thanks to Steve Costa and the Geography of Hope conference team, this weekend we were able to take a big step forward with our beach plastic shoes. We did walk the walk, realizing the vision that was sparked in a conversation back in November with Steve at a benefit party for Michael Stocker’s Ocean Conservation Research. Brainstorming ensued and before we knew it our shoes were leading the way into the conference.
During lunch our shoes were piled on the lawn in an arrangement that invited lively discussion and questions about the shoes and their arrival on the beach and the suggestion of a game matching possible and unlikely pairs — how about a croc with a loafer? or that high heel with a flipflop? Our sign posts offered a place to pause and consider philosophical thoughts about the meaning of the pilgrimage.
The next morning the conference community gathered for a special pilgrimage walk to the Miwok Village Kule Loklo.As the troop headed up the hill, someone exclaimed, “There are those shoes!!! At dawn, in secret, a line of shoes was drawn along the trail so that they would be an unexpected greeting, connecting the dots from Kehoe Beach to the Dance Palace to the Woodpecker Trail.
That shout of recognition was all that was needed to make it all worthwhile.
Over 100 + shoes and soles we have collected from Kehoe Beach will be presented on March 16 during the day at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station as an art installation for the Geography of Hope Conference. Our beach soles will greet people as they enter the conference in the morning and will send them on their way in the evening. During lunch we will be available at a “shoe station” for people to try on the shoes and experience what it means to walk in another persons shoes. On Sunday morning the shoes will be placed at the trailhead of Woodpecker Trail as people embark on the community pilgrimage walk.
Since 1999 Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, as a collaborative team, have been visiting Kehoe Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore. We have rambled 1000 meters of this tideline hundreds of times to gather plastic debris washing out of the Pacific Ocean. Along the way we have collected boxes of shoe parts, heels, padded inserts, flip-flops, and whole shoes, shoes that have been on a journey over land and sea. Never a pair, just one right or one left. Tattered and worn, each poses a question, about where it came from and the ocean currents that connect us all. Each shoe has a story to tell.