Washed Ashore, Making Art from Ocean Plastic, a Book by Kelly Crull

Kelly Crull is the author of a new children’s book about plastic pollution in the ocean. The story of how this book was born intrigued me because Kelly was inspired by the same organization as I was when I started my journey to create art out of marine debris. 

The book features Washed Ashore’s traveling sculptures including Priscilla the Parrotfish, Octavia the Giant Octopus and Edward the Leatherback Sea Turtle. Kelly’s book highlights the different species depicted by the giant Washed Ashore Sculptures by including information about the subject species and their interactions with plastic. Every spread also offers some sort of tip for reducing plastic waste. These tips include things like: skipping the straw, buying used items, repurposing your junk, and leaving marine environments untouched . . . And just for fun, there is a little “EYE SPY” type game included on each page where kids can try to locate some of the more unusual pieces of ocean trash that were used to create the sculptures.

How Washed Ashore’s mission is inspiring others to make a difference

Kelly’s book was inspired by a Washed Ashore Sculpture that he came across at the Como Park Zoo in Minneapolis in 2018. What is interesting, is that I was also inspired by a Washed Ashore Sculpture that I discovered at the Denver Zoo while attending a writers and illustrators conference in 2017. This is a testament to the mission statement of Washed Ashore who aims to educate and inspire with their enormous colorful sculptures created from marine debris that washed ashore in Oregon. When your mission statement truly works, its effects can be amplified, and that seems to be what is happening.

As for Kelly, he hopes that when people read his book, they realize that small acts can create big change, and that “We can use whatever it is that we like to do, even making art out of trash, to solve real problems.”

During his research for the book, Kelly discovered an email group for people who are working on solving the problem of ocean plastic pollution. The group includes National Geographic explorers, marine biologists, researchers, teachers, activists, government officials, and even artists like us. These people are dealing with ocean plastic every single day, and even though it can be quite discouraging, they are convinced that if we work together, we can solve this problem. He was inspired by their hope and optimism in people like you and me to solve such a big problem. 

Living in the middle of the Pacific Gyre, I am no stranger to marine debris and ocean plastic. I have been working with the Surfrider Foundation, Kauai Chapter for many years to both help clean beaches, and also to spread awareness through the creation of art comprised of the trash that the organization removes from Kauai’s shoreline. While my background is in marine biology, I didn’t start making art out of marine debris until I discovered Washed Ashore. This organization offered inspiration, documentation and even workshops that have shaped my own mission. Now it seems I share a similar mission with many others including Kelly, who have been inspired by the work of Angela Pozzi, and the Washed Ashore Organization.

If you would like to to learn more about Kelly or order a copy of his new book, please visit: https://kellycrull.com or https://linktr.ee/kellycrull

Kudos to Washed Ashore for inspiring us to make a difference. It is my sincere hope that Kelly’s book will educate and inspire the children that will make a difference in the future.