Surfing a Sea of Plastic

7 Oct

Barbara De Pirro and her endless supply of materials

In a consumer culture bored with flotsam and jetsam of its own making, Barbara De Pirro has created a life raft – her installation art, which is  composed of discarded plastics and recycled materials. We caught up with the artist as she was preparing her installation for Spaceworks Tacoma, vortex plastica, at 912 Broadway. Hundreds of plastic bottle caps, separated by color in plastic bins, were being pierced and stitched onto black netting in a brightly hued shockwave. Plastic bags crocheted into patties covered a tabletop; others were crafted into long garlands that formed webs over windows or piled up on the floor. By coincidence, rows of green recycle bins lined up like sentinels behind De Pirro’s worktable – but these weren’t a part of the installation, just waiting for service at tomorrow’s Broadway Farmers Market.

De Pirro 2

Crocheting ideas not found in any craft book

De Pirro, a recipient of a 2010 Artist Trust GAP Grant, says the installation is generating a buzz from passersby and will be completed in about a week. With its expert use of garden-fresh color (the expanse of recycled bottlecaps is mindful of a field of blooming flowers), the art piece has the power to attract, delight, surprise and repel  (when it is discovered what the material is), in short order. No wonder – like a figment from a nightmare, vortex plastica was inspired by the North Pacific Gyre, which carries an enormous and deadly “garbage patch” of plastics and refuse that is perpetually locked in its ocean currents. Follow De Pirro’s work at

2 Responses to “Surfing a Sea of Plastic”


  1. Olympia Dumpster Divers » Blog Archive » Barbara De Pirro: vortex plastica - October 7, 2010

    […] pods in intriguing settings that mimic nature in unsettling ways.  Her most recent installation, vortex plastica, opens October 9, 2010 at 912 Broadway, in Tacoma, WA, part of Spaceworks Tacoma’s creative […]

  2. Barbara De Pirro’s Eco-Art « - October 19, 2010

    […] is creating a literal universe from her vast cache of materials. Opening Oct. 9 at 912 Broadway, vortex plastica is a multi-dimensional installation featuring “a web-like form, a spun nest, a whirling […]

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