Happy New Year 2012! It has been a month and a half since I left Melbourne on vacation back to Venezuela, my beautiful country. I have been immersed in the simple pleasures of my native country, its people, culture, food and nature.
I have been mainly in Caracas the capital, a very populous city with over 6 million inhabitants, were there is no proper recycling of any kind. For the past 12 years Hugo Chavez has been president and the people live in constant political turmoil. It feels like the divided population (those that support him and those that despise him) only have the attention to dwell in politics and there is no talk about the environment and the problem we are causing to it. The idea of banning plastic bags is so remote here and the use of plastic bags is down right Ridiculous! There is no conscience effort to reduce them and I think the majority of the population has no clue of how they pollute our world. Even the tiniest of purchase gets shoved into one, and it has happened a couple of times that my refusal to have one is completely ignored. There is seriously so much to do here.
I traveled for 12 days to the Venezuelan Andes, where I received this new year. During my stay in Merida I was honored to have been asked to run a workshop on Recycling Plastics and to share some of the techniques that I use. It was improvised in two days and the result was amazing! The workshop was in La Mucuy in the House for Cultural Diversity in conjuction with Espacios Abiertos. I am grateful to Gisela Barrios for organizing this workshop! Twenty participants showed up, ages ranging between 7 and 85.
I introduced myself and talked about my work briefly. I then spoke of Problems Plastic Bags cause to marine life. I wanted to leave a strong impression in the mind of these children and adults. I painted a picture of turtles suffocating with plastic bags, or unable to eat because of the bags in their stomach, I spoke of our oceans slowly becoming huge plastic soups. Many of the children in this region have never been to the ocean, but they have witnessed plastic pollution in their rivers and they understand how all the water ends up in the ocean.
I demonstrated three techniques I use for recycling plastic bags and encouraged the participants to try them all. The results were fantastic!!!
Weaving: we made simple looms with cardboard and made plarn from plastic bags.
This is one of my favorite techniques, I enjoy heaps making portraits with plastic! In the demonstration on how to fuse plastic I got everyone involved by making a communal portrait. Inspired by the beautiful rivers of ice cold water that descend from the melting snow of the Andes. Everyone contributed by cutting different elements common to this scenario from different plastic bags. Flowers, golden trouts, mountains and the Fontino Bear an endangered species endemic to these lands, emerged from the creativity of the participants. It was a great feeling to create together! I think for everyone there, it was something completely new, that you could have so much fun painting with plastic bags!
The last technique was how to make broaches and flowers with a bangle and plastic strands.
The children we so enthusiastic and the adults were thrilled also! Times flew by and everyone tried the various techniques and later expressed how much they had enjoyed the process of creating with Plastic.
For me it was a wonderful feeling, sharing what I have learned and most of all, I hope that this experience acts like a small seed that reproduces and grows inside these individuals inspiring them to continue to explore and create with this abundant material! preventing Plastics Bags from ending up in these beautiful Andeans rivers and ultimately in the oceans of our Earth.