May 31, 2020

McKee Botanical Garden is pleased to announce the opening of its Ocean Sole Africa Exhibition, which is on display throughout the Garden now 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 Africa located in Kenya. “This exhibit invites you to come 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 began as a flip-flop on someone’s feet, which was later discarded and ultimately ended 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, a manta ray, a manatee and a dragonflies.

Ocean Sole Africa’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 Africa 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 Africa operates and impacts.


The Benedict Foundation – Great White Shark Sponsor

William and Marcia Blackburn – Crabs Sponsor

Bill and Laura Buck – Manatee Sponsor

Majestic 11/Cinemaworld – Seahorses Sponsor

Marion and Willem de Vogel Foundation – Reef Fish Sponsor

Bill Glavin – Starfish Sponsor

Sarah Haney – Seahorses

Stephanie Hurtt – Turtles Sponsor

Publix Super Markets Charities – Dragonflies Sponsor

The Schumann Family – Dolphins Sponsor

George E. Warren Corporation – Giant Flip-Flop Sponsor

Bob and Connie Wood – Manta Ray Sponsor

Magazine Sponsor:  Vero Beach Magazine

Radio Sponsor:  Treasure and Space Coast Radio

Children’s Guide Sponsor:  Quail Valley Charities

Sole Mates Host Committee

Roz Allen and Paul Landry

Debbie and Ted Berghorst

Jocelyn L. Bezner in honor of The Last Mango Fishing Charters

Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence R. Brashears

Art and Jean Budden

Rosalen E. Cline


Cypress Trust Company

Ginger and Marty Gibson

Bobbie and John Goodall

Susie and Fred Kasten

John and Mary Kurtz

Charlie Long

Alma Lee Loy

Robin MacTaggart

Ellie and Bob McCabe

Northern Trust

Mrs. Patrick C. O’Brien, Jr.

Mr*. and Mrs. Eric W. Peniston

Don and Patsy Riefler

Bob and Gerri Ripp

Gavin and Marcia Ruotolo

Hap and Liz Schroeder

Susan Schuyler Smith

Lindy B. Street

Robert Theis*

Judith C. Tolsdorf

Jean and Jim Ueltschi

Debbie Weise

Pat and Carol Welsh




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