'That's a lot of trash': Artists transform garbage into vibrant seascape

Recycle reef
Posted at 12:04 PM, Apr 09, 2021

LOVELAND, Colo. (KMGH) — In an otherwise empty storefront on Fourth Street in downtown Loveland, Colorado, sits something you don’t normally see in the little town. The vibrant colors catch your eye almost immediately.

The best time to look is after dark. The colors and lights play off of each other. Yet, it still feels out of place. The art display just seems off.

“I would have to say this is the most unique piece that I’ve done,” said Kathryn Vinson.

Vinson is a self-proclaimed nature nerd who usually sculpts animals out of wood and stone.

This project used something a little more different. It’s hard to tell at first just what aquarium art piece is made of. Heather Fortin Rubald, the artist who created the the display alongside Vinson, said the idea was to create something beautiful.

“To create beauty and to create beauty out of things that would maybe be derelict otherwise,” Fortin Rubald said. “The beauty draws you in we see people stand there and just stare in awe at this. It's beautiful and then they go, 'Oh but that’s an egg carton and that’s a plastic bag,' and they stand and go, 'That’s a lot of trash.'”

An entire seascape made out of recyclable garbage, all the way down to the eyes of an octopus and the shell of a sea turtle. Everything used was collected through donations or the artists own homes.

“3,000 plastic bags, 2,000 plastic bottles, egg crates,” Vinson noted. “Hello Fresh bags, lots and lots of Styrofoam, because nobody recycles Styrofoam.”

Taking it all in, you can see just how big of a waste problem there is. Eight months of work piecing everything together. Braided kelp and sea walls hold hundreds of bags along. Fortin Rubald hopes the display wakes viewers up to how much waste they produce.

“We’ve become very, very wasteful and I think that’s just out of convenience,” she said. “There’s no real reason that everything we get has to be thrown away, we just do.”

What they hope is that people pay attention to what they’re wasting and what they’re buying, purchasing items that have less packaging and contribute less waste.

“They’re wonderful magical places and we’re killing them. We’re suffocating them under a blanket of plastic. All of this stuff goes downstream, all of it ends up in the ocean,” Vinson said.

With a push across the state to contribute less waste in the form of plastic bags, Fortin Rubald gave her take.

“The best plastic bag that there ever was," Fortin Rubald said, "is the one that never was."

This story originally reported by Josh Whitston on TheDenverChannel.com