Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

How can plastic be like water?

This is what has to be the most lovely and ingenious re-use of plastic bottles and caps you'll ever gaze upon and wonder, "How did they do that?"

How can plastic be like water?

Beautiful bottle caps? Really?

Yes, really. This photo doesn't quite do justice to an art installation, called "be like water," currently on exhibit at The Skybox in Fishtown. So my imperfect words must describe what has to be the most lovely and ingenious re-use of plastic bottles and caps you'll ever gaze upon and wonder, "How did they do that?"

Better yet, you should go see it for yourself. The Skybox is the massive, two-story atrium located within 2424 Studios,  at 2424 E. York St.,  whose lofts house eclectic businesses with a creative bent.  One of the residents  is art curator Eileen Tognini, who commissioned last year's funky and beautiful "Titan and the Firelies," a crazy exhibit that made wonderful use of the gallery's huge space

"Be Like Water," another Tognini commission, is just as arresting. Created by artist Aurora Robson, with copious help from students at city public, private, community and charter schools, the installation uses thousands of plastic bottles and caps, collected by the kids, to create ethereal, delicate, crystal-like forms that gitter and sway on suspended filament. Walking under them is like gliding beneath dangling ice sculpures.

But the work's intended effect is bigger than that, says Robson.

"My work is largely about transforming something negative into something positive, recognizing and exploring potential.  ... The installation comprised of bottles and caps that would otherwise be burdensome on the environment. Instead, I have transformed them to create what I hope is suggestive of an uplifting waterfall of light and form," she writes on The Skybox website.

She notes that plastic bottle caps are especially problematic as they usually do not get recycled, and end up in landfills and oceans — likely to be ingested by birds and fish due to their opacity and bright colors. In a joint effort to raise environmental awareness, bottle caps that have been collected and sorted by students are also displayed at the event. When the exhibit ends, Robson will deliver all of the bottle caps to Aveda, located in Babylon, NY, one of the only places in the country that recycles caps.

"be like water," which opened last Friday, is on display Tuesdays through Saturdays, from noon to 6pm. It closes Nov. 7th.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





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