KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Divers recently retrieved the submerged 24-piece “Plastic Ocean Project” underwater art exhibit by Austrian photographer Andreas Franke. The collection spent three months adhered to the hull of the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg shipwreck for scuba divers to view, accruing the ocean’s salt, algae and microorganisms.
Franke considers the microorganisms the “signature of the sea” to become a part of the artwork, transforming each piece with a unique patina and offering a glimpse of the ocean’s beauty and its inhabitants that are worth protecting.
His “Plastic Ocean” images are characteristically opulent and represent the beauty of this world and its future generations. Amid human images are written messages intended to create awareness of the extent of plastic garbage found in the world’s oceans, its harmful impact on living beings and the need to curb society’s reliance on plastic.
After allowing the art to dry completely, Franke will prepare the sizable originals to be exhibited on land at a to-be-announced Florida art gallery.
In Key West, a limited number of originals and prints of Franke’s internationally acclaimed previous series, “The Sinking World,” are on display at 7 Artists Gallery, 213 Simonton St.
Wednesday, Aug. 21, an environmental happy hour and meet-the-artist reception is planned for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the gallery with the Surfrider Foundation Florida Keys, Salt Life and Key West Green Drinks. Attendees are asked to bring a reusable cup for beverages.
“Art patrons and collectors are charmed and enamored by the genius of ‘The Sinking World,’ and, of course, the timely and profound messaging of ‘Plastic Ocean,’” said 7 Artists Gallery owner Jennifer Badry.
Franke premiered “Plastic Ocean” on the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg during the shipwreck’s 10-year anniversary celebration of its sinking in May 2019 in Key West.
“Plastic Ocean” images and information: plasticocean.gallery
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
The submerged 24-piece 'Plastic Ocean Project' underwater art exhibit spent three months adhered to the hull of the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg shipwreck. Images: Joe Berg/Way Down Video