GOOD10 // The Earth Issue // The Art: ‘Ethyl’ the Whale

An artist’s primary challenge is to make the invisible, visible—to give shape to the abstract: our emotions, our innermost thoughts and fears. Take, for example, the following sentence: Every nine minutes, 300,000 pounds of plastic is dumped into the ocean. How would an artist express that information? Not just the fact of it, but the feeling? Chances are, for most of us, the magnitude of those words, once read, drifts away easily, like a plastic bag in an ocean current. It’s up to the artist to anchor it: in our hearts, in our minds, in our conscience. San Francisco Bay Area artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova found a way to do that. Commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, they used roughly 5,000 pounds of recycled plastic and steel to create a life-sized, 82-foot long sculpture of a blue whale They named the sculpture, "Ethyl," a nod to polyethylene, the most popular plastic in the world. The piece was initially installed on the Golden Gate National Recreation area, flanked by palm trees that shot into the air like water spouts. It was then sold to Meow Wolf, a public benefit arts and entertainment group based in Santa Fe, […]

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