Marina DeBris Interview: creativity, humor and irony to raise awareness about marine pollution

Marina DeBris is an Australian-based artist. Through creativity, humor and irony her work focuses on reusing washed up trash to raise awareness about marine pollution. Characterized by powerful messages, her work is a kind of ode to a modern society, that often finds value in accumulation and beauty in the ephemeral.
DeBris has participated in various initiatives, for instance in the Smithsonian Institution and the United Nations. She has also collaborated with environmental organizations, nonprofit organizations and schools, making an important contribution to promote the preservation and protection of a precious part of our planet .

What inspired you to create art in this way?
I was living in Bondi Beach and moved back to the US. I moved to Los Angeles because it was a beachside city. I used to run on Venice Beach every day and could not help but notice how much trash was washing up. For years I just collected it , but I had ideas incubating regarding how I could make art that delivered a message about our waste. After doing a bit of research and meeting groups like 5 Gyres and Heal the Bay, I realized that art was a perfect vehicle (for me) to talk about the issue.

How do you find the trash? How do you choose which trash to use?
I have lived near a beach for the past 25 years, so I don't pick up every bit of trash I see on the beach (I barely have room to store what I do have!). Generally, an idea of what to create is based on objects I find most often. Universally these are the same, bottle caps, straws, water bottles, fragments of plastic , fishing gear & lots & lots of children's toys, candy wrappers , etc .

What message do you want to deliver to the world through your artwork?
That the human animal is creating an obscene amount of waste that can never be digested by nature. In the process, we are destroying the marine environment and all of it's inhabitants, and ultimately ourselves. The message is that we need to become more aware of what we are purchasing and think about the how it was made and it's ultimate destiny. Sometimes that is an easy choice of refusing single use plastic and bringing your own reusable bag, cups, cutlery, takeaway containers, etc . That is the least we can do for our fellow inhabitants on the earth . It is not "all about us" after all..

What do you think is the role of art in building a more sustainable world ?
Art can be a very powerful tool in reaching a broad audience, especially kids. I constantly struggle with trying to create a piece that delivers the message in a way that makes people think & act. That is the ultimate goal.

Do you have any interesting projects for the future ?
I'm about to work on a project with a seabird biologist. She has been studying birds and the devastating effect plastic pollution has had on them. I hope to achieve something that is not too `easy on the eyes´.

From the series “Beach Couture: A Haute Mess” by Trashion Designer: Marina DeBris Shot in Los Angeles, CA by photographer Richard Flynn . Model: Hannah Kat Jones. Art Direction / Production: Anne Shackman. Hair: Erika Schmidt. Makeup: Lori Benson.


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