Michelle Lougee

Environmental Art • Sculpture • Ceramics • Illustration • Education

Material Nature

Material Nature is a collection of tactile woven forms inspired by microscopic ocean creatures. With some 20,000 types of organisms in a liter of seawater, there are many beautiful forms to draw from. A continued exploration of material, crocheted plastic bags, has produced enlargements of life supporting organisms.

A central piece of the exhibit is an enlargement of dinoflagellata, an essential food source for larger ocean animals. The Dinoflagellata is a complex, paneled form comprised of a honeycomb-like structure perfectly suited to this method of working. Inplastibrate is a whimsical take on the nudibranch. It seems to stand like a terrier ready to fetch. Smaller pieces are playful interpretations of individual phytoplankton and zooplankton.

Tapestry-like wall pieces that delve into worlds of lichen and marine diatoms are translated using post-consumer plastic bags - the very substance threatening these worlds.

I began working with plastic bags in response to learning of the Eastern Garbage Patch, a large concentration of plastic and other debris that has been accumulated and trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre. As the plastic breaks down, particles become small enough for marine life to ingest, thus entering the food chain. In some areas, plastic pieces outnumber phytoplankton by a 6-1 margin. It has even been measured in some samples as high as 48-1.

Exhibitions