Beginning in November, the Garden will host its Ocean Sole Exhibition, which will be on display throughout the Garden from November 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020. This exhibition features 40 brightly colored, whimsical hand-crafted marine species sculptures made from recycled flip flops that have washed upon the shores of Africa and were created by artisans from Ocean Sole located in Kenya. “This exhibit invites you to explore and truly understand some of the creatures that live beneath the sea and the many ways we can become involved in conservation and help to preserve the beautiful waterways that are so important to us all,” said Christine Hobart, Executive Director.
The story of each sculpture begins as a flip flop on someone’s feet, which is later discarded and ultimately ends up in our earth’s waterways, landfills and oceans. The artists collect, clean, compress and carve it into beautiful art. The sculptures are made from upcycled EVA rubber flip flops, contact adhesive glue, and in some of the larger sculptures, recycled styrofoam and wire. The exhibition will include turtles, dolphins, crabs, a great white shark, seahorses, an octopus, reef fish, starfish, stingrays, a manatee and a dragonfly.
Ocean Sole’s mission is to turn flip flop pollution into inspiring art to promote conservation and create employment. Their focus is 100% on conservation entrepreneurship. Ocean Sole positively impacts over 1,000 Kenyans through the collection of flip flops and direct employment. Their masterpieces create employment for a country that has 40% unemployment, but also sends a message about how we can help our planet, our oceans and people. Revenue generated from the sale of these sculptures helps clean up the beaches, provide vocational and educational programs to Kenyans, and supports conservation efforts. Over 80% of land waste ends up in our seas, impacting both human and marine life. Recycling efforts on the East African coast have made significant improvements to the environment and the quality of life within the areas which Ocean Sole operates and impacts.