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Whale Sculpture Made of Beach Cleanup Items

Marine Debris Has a Second Life in Cindy Pease Roe's Sculptures

For over a decade, artist Cindy Pease Roe has been sculpting with marine debris in order to educate and impact those who come into contact with her creations. She was commissioned by 1 Hotel South Beach to create a 6-foot custom whale sculpture that will be unveiled during Everything But Water’s Water is Everything launch event at the hotel this April.

Everything But Water: How and when did you start working with marine debris?

Cindy Pease Roe: Ten years ago I moved to Greenport, New York, an area surrounded by water. I was walking my dog one day when I looked down and saw all this plastic. I had never seen anything like that before, and I was appalled. I brought it back to my studio and made a wreath out of it, and people started asking questions, like “Where is [this plastic] coming from?” I educated myself about it and got more involved. My sculpture is exclusively made of marine plastics picked up off the beach—people need to understand that this plastic is coming out of the ocean.

Cindy Pease

Everything But Water: When did you start working on this particular piece?

Cindy Pease Roe: Sabra [Krock, Everything But Water Creative Director and Co-Owner] contacted me in December and said she was interested in having some of my ropy whales on exhibit at the same time that the event in Miami was going on. [It turned out that] the hotel had a specific space with a sculpture that was leaving, so they commissioned me to do a piece for that space. It’s thrilling that people will see this, understand what it’s made of and take the message on to where they’re going.

Everything But Water: Where did you get the material used?

Cindy Pease Roe: It’s 100% unnatural ingredients salvaged from the beach. The gathering of material has been going on for years: I accessed materials I had in my studio, like a painting tarp I dug out of a marsh two years ago. That’s the “skin” of the whale. For ropes I used massive towlines that washed up on the beach. I had most of the materials I needed, but toward the end I needed some bottle caps and went for walks on the beach to find a few more pieces that fit into the color scheme.

Everything But Water: Why did you name this whale Delia?

Cindy Pease Roe: I named her after my mother. When I was growing up she would embarrass me because she was picking up litter all the time when we were walking home, but at the same time she was educating me about how important our natural resources are. I was raised to be aware that water was a precious resource.

Cindy Pease Building an Item

Everything But Water: What do you think about the issue of plastic pollution in the oceans? How have you personally observed it?

Cindy Pease Roe: I was raised going to Cape Cod every summer, swimming, clamming and sailing. When I was older, I lived on a sail boat, and I’ve always lived close to the water. Over the years I’ve seen the changes in the water. Many parts of the river we used to go clamming in are now closed due to contamination. It’s not the same place any longer. It’s dying. I love the ocean, and I want to do everything I can to educate people and inspire them to make little changes. Those can impact our environment going forward.

Everything But Water: What does Water is Everything mean to you?

Cindy Pease Roe: Everything But Water is stepping up and using their resources to message about the problem. The 5 Gyres Institute is a fantastic non-profit for them to partner with, and things like that give me hope. These partnerships of commerce and non-profits are really helpful. Big companies need to get behind it and be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It’s a leadership move [because] people as individuals want to make a difference.

Everything But Water: Why are you excited to attend the Miami event?

Cindy Pease Roe: It’s always really wonderful to be with people who are like-minded. I’m excited for the beach clean-up, to meet people and to be available to talk to them about the sculpture and inspire them—and to go shopping.

Sculpture made from beach cleanup items