Hartford Courant Article!

I was really excited to be interviewed by Pam McLoughlin for an article in the Hartford Courant about the whale being hung in the library on campus. You can read the full article here.

You can also visit the whale at the University of Hartford Campus in the Mortensen Library.

Library hours until December 13th are

Monday-Thursday 730AM-11PM

Friday 730AM-6PM

Saturday 10AM-6PM

and Sunday Noon-11PM

The best way to access the campus for visitors is to park at Lot K visitor (actually past the other two K-lots, which are designated for commuters and faculty/staff) which is just in front of the new and amazing Hursey Center (#25 on this map) which is available for downloading here.

Once parked, you cross the quad to the Harry Jack Gray Center (#15 here) which houses the Harrison Libraries, including Mortensen. When you enter, the whale is directly in front of you, but across the library on the bank of windows on the far wall.

Talking and Sewing with MILE

What a treat to be invited to speak with the folks at MILE (Middlesex Institute for Lifelong Education) this month on October 6th. They were a well-informed and attentive bunch who were game to hear a lecture about plastic pollution and then hang around to sew after!

We’re currently working on the Pygmy Right Whale, which will be about 12 x 24 feet when complete. Unlike past projects, this time I’m asking participants to sew a 20 x 20 inch square that will later be sewn together to create the whale. It’s an experiment, but should be really cool!

Here are some photos of the event taken by Christie Moraga

Kat Owens presenting about the Entangled and Ingested project
MILE participants jumping right in on the sewing
The participants got familiar with the materials and tried their hand at sewing plastic, which can be tricky!
It was a lot of fun to chat with the participants, including a Hartford College for Women alum (yay!) and a former teacher from our beloved elementary school, Macdonough

take a survey about the Entangled and ingested Project

Have you experienced the Entangled and Ingested Project, whether through a public talk, a sewing workshop, an art exhibit, or another event? We’d like to know your thoughts about the project’s impact and a little about you and how you think about the larger problem of plastic pollution.

If you have experienced the Entangled and Ingested project, click on this link to take the survey. Your responses might be included in future outreach about the project. Thank you!

I guess it’s good to hear you are right?

I was both sad and excited to see this recent piece in the Resource Newsletter about the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. It details a report from the think tank Planet Tracker called Barely Credible that evaluates the abysmal track record to date of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.

As a reminder– the Alliance to End Plastic Waste is a group formed by the biggest players in the largest industries that create plastic and plastic waste.

My friend and colleague Katie Conlon and I wrote an article in 2021 published in Frontiers (available fully online) called Mopping up or turning off the tap: environmental injustice and the ethics of plastic pollution where we noted that the members of the AEPW pledged in 2019 to spend 1.5 billion dollars over five years to “end plastic waste in the environment,” which represents less than 2 % of the members’ annual NET profits.

In our piece, we compared the Alliance to End Plastic Waste with organizations like Common Seas which in contrast have an inclusive approach that seeks to solve underlying problems (like access to clean drinking water) and actually address the SOURCES of plastic pollution (exponential growth of single use plastics) instead of just the SYMPTOMS of plastic pollution (for example, promoting another recycling program).

While it is nice to get confirmation that we were on track… I’d much rather the producers of plastic waste take responsibility for the way they are polluting our planet.

Want to learn more about what the US Congress is doing to address plastic policy? Check out the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.

Interview by the amazing Fiona Long

Fiona Long is a good friend of the family and one of my most dependable contributors to the sewing project. She came to Main Street to sew on my various whale projects frequently. She’s a wonderful human being who is one of the most thoughtful kids I know. She’s taking music lessons with Karen Hogg and as a part of a recent concert series she asked to interview me about my project.

Check out her interview here:

Hanging the whale at the University of Hartford

What a day. On October 3 2022 the amazing team from Level Fine Art Services brought their many talents to the University of Hartford to hang the 60 foot sperm whale. This whale project began in December of 2021, when I began my attempt to create the largest piece in the Entangled and Ingested series. All of the pieces over 20 feet I co-create with the public. I’ve never made a piece of art this large and I didn’t know what to expect. Taking a basic sewing intro class at Hartford Stitch (I highly recommend them, BTW) helped me think about construction and how I might want to handle the seams joining panels. Thankfully, soon the City of Middletown’s Downtown Business District allowed me to host an open studio for several months on Main Street (from December 2021 to May 2022). Without that space I don’t know how I would have managed to complete the piece (or have begun the next-largest 55 foot long bowhead whale). The project was supported by a grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.

All of that work came to fruition on 10/3 when we hung the whale at the University of Hartford’s campus.

Here’s a stop-motion film of the hanging

And a video of the view as you mount the second floor steps in the library.

It will remain up through the end of this calendar year (at least).

If you collaborated on this piece (or another piece) you should visit the University to view it and see if you can find the spot where you contributed. Through the windows in the back of the library, you can see the signatures of all the folks who sewed the piece.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, there will be a lecture and reception this Friday, October 7 from 2:00-3:30 in the library for Faculty Friday. You can hear about the project and see the largest piece, then enjoy some questions and refreshments.

Plastic Free Journey

Check out these 14 short videos from global activists, educators, academics, and environmental leaders discussing plastic waste and pollution from various perspectives. Deep insights onto the nature of the global plastic pandemic from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Philippines, Japan, Sweden, and the US. It’s time to turn off the tap of plastic generation!

Videos include:

Von Hernandez, Global Director Break Free From Plastic (Philippines);

Akira Sakano, Zero Waste Japan (Japan);

Khenpo Gyurme Tsutrim, monastic head (Nepal);

Savera Weerasinghe , UNDP Plastics Global Taskforce, Waste Action Lanka (Sri Lanka);

Alison Teal, ‘Female Indian Jones’ and plastic-free clean-seas advocate (USA);

Gian Pietro ‘Peter’ Verza, director of Pyramid Glacial Research lab Sagarmatha Nat. Park Nepal (Italy/Nepal);

Pal Martensson, Let’s Cleanup World, (Sweden);

Taylor Cass Talbott , WIEGO (USA);

Shibu Nair, India Coordinator at GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives) (India);

Katharine Owens, Nat Geo Explorer, waste artist, and community learning and engagement specialist (USA);

Alex Jensen, Local Futures (USA/India); Milan Rai, artist, social activist and placemaker (Nepal)

Captain Charles Moore, Algalita Marine Research and Education , discoverer of the North Pacific Gyre 97′ and director Algalita (USA)

Created by Katie Conlon, who has been working with communities across the Himalayas to reduce plastics. She originally thought to make these video shorts as a way to connect the global with the local narratives on plastics, to have a discussion about different scales, regions and modes of action, and how the efforts of people in their local Himalayan town/region is connected to this broader global plastics dialogue and global actions.

All videos on YouTube here

Updates about her Himalayas to Sea, Plastic Free project can also be found on Instagram.