Trashed Inspiration: Oceans, Pollution, and Art

February 18, Thursday, 7 p.m.

View the recording of this event here.

Andy Yoder moderates a panel of artists whose work focuses on ocean pollution. Yoder, Alejandro Durán, Pam Longobardi, and Aurora Robson will share their work and discuss the ways they draw inspiration from the crisis happening in our oceans, particularly around plastic trash.


Andy Yoder‘s BMAC installation, Overboard, was inspired by “The Great Shoe Spill of 1990,” an incident in which 61,820 Nike Air Jordan 5s spilled into the Pacific Ocean.

Yoder is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. His work has been exhibited at the International Print Center New York, the Saatchi Gallery, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Reykjavik Art Museum, among many others. He has been commissioned to create work for numerous public installations, including for the Columbus Museum of Art, the ESPN Zone in New York, and Hilltop Montessori School in Brattleboro. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia. 

Alejandro Durán collects trash on the Caribbean coast of Mexico and transforms it through an ongoing environmental installation and photography project designed to raise awareness about plastic pollution. He also engages audiences through community-based environmental art-making and speaking engagements.

Durán received an M.A. in Teaching from Tufts University and an M.F.A. in poetry from the New School for Social Research. His work has been featured at the Mt. Rokko International Photography Festival in Japan, the Fotografie Forum in Germany, and Basta con la Plastica, Italy’s first Ocean Awareness Week. Images from his project “Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape” have been published in National Geographic, Time, and The Huffington Post as well as the books Art & Ecology Now, Unexpected Art, and Photo Viz, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Sian Ka’an, México. 

Pam Longobardi’s parents, an ocean lifeguard and the Delaware state diving champion, connected her to the ocean at an early age. After discovering mountains of plastic on remote Hawaiian shores in 2006, she founded the Drifters Project. Now a global collaborative entity, Drifters Project has removed tens of thousands of pounds of material from the natural environment and re-situated it in social space. 

Winner of the Hudgens Prize and Regent’s Professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Longobardi has been featured in National Geographic, SIERRA, and in exhibitions in galleries, museums, and public spaces around the world. As Oceanic Society’s Artist-In-Nature, she co-leads expeditions to remote and beautiful places, working with participants and communities in addressing plastic and its environmental impact. Longobardi’s work has been shown across the U.S and in Wales, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Germany, Finland, Slovakia, China, Japan, Spain, Belgium, Poland and the UK. 

Aurora Robson is a multimedia artist known predominantly for her meditative work intercepting the plastic waste stream. Robson grew up in Hawaii, lived and worked in New York City for over two decades, and now lives in the Hudson Valley.

Robson has exhibited her work internationally in museums, galleries and non-traditional spaces since 2002. She is also the founding artist of Project Vortex, an international collective of artists, designers and architects who work in innovative ways with plastic debris. Robson is passionate about developing integrative methods for artists and designers to utilize plastic debris as a raw material. Since 2014, Robson has been developing and assisting with the implementation of a coursework designed to foster creative stewardship through academia at colleges, universities, and high schools around the world.