Though Israeli artist Beverly Barkat’s Earth Poetica sculpture appears to be made of beautiful colorful stained glass panels, it’s actually made of trash. Measuring 13-feet in diameter, the globe is made up of plastic bags, cups, fishing nets, bottles, and other forms of plastic waste that were collected from oceans, mountains, forest, and other locations across the globe. Debuting in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the United Nation’s World Environment Day, Barkat’s sculpture draws attention to the critical state of pollution across the world.
The idea for the sculpture came to Barkat after she watched a documentary about plastic pollution. Spurred into action by the terrible scenes see saw in the film, the artist began to collect plastic waste from her own environments. As the project progressed, she was assisted by a community of conservationists from six continents. Over the course of three years, Barkat received waste hauls from people in the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Taiwan Japan and Australia.
Once Barkat had amassed a large collection of plastic pieces, she classified each piece by type and organized them according to their color, form, hardness, strength, and transparency. Next, she came up with a process that made the plastic pieces appear translucent, like stained glass shards. Those glass-like forms were then arranged to mimic the shapes of Earth’s continents, oceans, mountains, deserts, and forests on 180 separate panels reinforced by bamboo scaffolding.
The panels of Earth Poetica are held together by a steel frame. The beams of this frame mimic the lines of longitude and latitude that appear on maps and globes. A small portal in the side of the sculpture allows visitors to peer inside and gaze upon a 360 degree view of the spherical art work. Looking closely at the piece from the interior or exterior. you can still make out label on some of the bags and wrappers that make up the panels.
Though stunning to behold as a work of art, this sculpture reminds us of the dire need to reduce waste in order to preserve the natural beauty and health of our planet. Earth Poetica debuted at The Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium in Jerusalem, in 2022 and is now on display in the lobby of 3 World Trade Center (3 WTC) in Lower Manhattan.
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