HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Hollywood resident Manon Weise is on a mission, looking to inspire and educate the masses creating works of art out of trash to show us all what we’re doing to our planet.
“There’s so much stuff on our beaches that people don’t realize, because they don’t see it,” Weise said. “So our sculptures show what comes onto our beaches.”
A series of 10 works are currently on display in Flamingo Gardens in Davie, each and every one made from trash Weise found on Hollywood Beach and crafted by her husband, Kurt.
“The Mahi Mahi’s been created with colorful plastics that he has cut from buckets, from containers that we found on the beach,” Weise said. “The eyes are actually two plastic spoons.”
The idea for the Mahi came after Weise collaborated with the Broward Surfrider Foundation for the 2018 Hollywood Candy Cane Parade, to make a float entirely out of beach litter.
“We won for most unique (parade float), but it brought awareness, people couldn’t believe that we found all this on our local beach,” Weise said.
That’s how Free Our Seas and Beyond was born, a nonprofit created by Weise to attack a problem growing more and more pervasive by the day.
“I was walking the beach I kept seeing trash, trash, trash everywhere,” Weise said. “And I was wondering, ‘What can I do with this, because nobody recycles.’ And I thought what better way to educate the public but through the arts and it’s about visual, seeing it and knowing that this stuff is out there.”
A pelican sculpture was made to show how recklessly discarded fishing gear is killing marine birds, a manta ray stuffed with ocean plastic just like many in real life, and a Florida gator depicting how human litter is also impacting wildlife in the everglades.
“The alligator was created with garbage cans, oil can tops, a Tonka toy’s wheels and tooth brushes, that’s what we made the teeth from,” she said.
One of their most eye popping creations is a large grouper made from 200 flip-flops.
“This is on our beaches, not flip flops that somebody left, but flip-flops that came in from the ocean, from a Gulfstream that brought them,” Weise said. “Sometimes I’ll find five to 10 flip-flops a day. Not pairs, just one. They’re made out of rubber. They’re not biodegradable.”
And neither is all that plastic the world continues to produce. Less than nine percent of all global plastic is actually recycled, which means what hasn’t been incinerated is still on our planet in some shape or form.
“Recycling is not happening,” Weise said. “People think it is, but it’s not. So we use our art as an avenue to get the word out there and also to reuse it because it’s not going to be recycled.”
The message from Weise isn’t subtle: reduce our waste before it’s too late.
“The future here is our children, and they’re not going to have a clean planet if we don’t start making the change here,” she said.
Our species already beginning to disappear. An installation of the critically endangered vaquita was started two years ago when there were 17 left on the planet.
Right now there’s only 10.
“They could be gone in a year, and it’s detrimental to our environment, because everything is interconnected,” said Weise. “So once they’re gone, what’s next?”
Weise was recently joined by reinforcements, an army of volunteers converging on Hollywood’s Marine Environmental Education Center to clean up the beach and collect pieces of trash and litter that will no doubt inspire the next work.
It’s a sad fact that unfortunately, there is never any shortage of materials.
“Honestly I’d prefer there’d be no plastic, then I wouldn’t have to do this, but I love our planet, I love Hollywood,” Weise said. “I really want to bring awareness to the pollution that’s happening right now.”
Free Our Seas and Beyond’s installation at Flamingo Gardens runs through September fifth.
For more information on Free Our Seas and Beyond, including how to donate, click here.
Also, check out Free Our Seas and Beyond on Instagram.