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Sculpture Sheds Light on the Things We Shed

Kitsap Sun, October 1, 2012 — A sculpture. A statement on trash in the water ways. An interdisciplinary project weaving art, science, manufacturing and visual and aural communication.

A life-size baby gray whale made of recycled material and found objects that is the centerpiece of the latest exhibit at The Gallery at Olympic College is all those things.

The seed for the exhibit was planted when OC art professor Marie Weichman heard news of a gray whale washed up on the shores of West Seattle. Marine biologists found all sorts of debris in its stomach during an autopsy.

“That stuff shouldn’t have been inside a whale,” she said. “It frustrated me, but I didn’t know what to do about it.”

The idea further jelled when she observed a baby whale breach during a boat trip in Hawaii.

“It was amazing,” she said.

Those experiences led her to facilitate an independent study for students over the summer to create a collaborative installation that focused on the life cycle of the gray whale along with the danger of plastics and debris in marine environments.

Five students signed up and worked on the exhibit from conception to execution. They’ll even provide the food for the opening reception for the exhibit this week.

There are other contributors, too. Marine science students voiced a portion of an audio loop that will play in the gallery throughout the installation. A welding professor oversaw one of the students, who welded the whale skeleton based on CAD designs from the manufacturing department.

The gray whale project, with its reach throughout departments and disciplines, is typical of the projects Weichman seeks out.

“I’m always looking for opportunities with my students to do an interdisciplinary project, she said. “It’s not just about the art.”

The Whale Project

When: Opens 4 p.m. Thursday and runs through Nov. 2.

Where: The Gallery at OC, OC Bremerton campus. The Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or by appointment. The Gallery is located in Art Building A.

Information: A blog documenting the creation of the exhibit is at ocartgallery.wordpress.com.

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