GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — For the last four summers, an art studio in Grand Haven has collected trash from the Lake Michigan shoreline and turned it into treasures.
The Beach Trash Art Show will be on display at the Grand Haven Community Center through the end of July. Every piece is mostly comprised of litter collected from the beach at Grand Haven State Park.
Curator Barbara Carlson says the goal is to raise awareness to help keep beaches clean.
“All of this is left behind by people, just either carelessly or things that wash ashore from other parts of Lake Michigan,” Carlson told News 8. “All of this stuff is left behind and it creates a problem for our environment, our people that live here and the animals, the quality of the water.”
This is the fourth year Carlson has organized the event. It starts every April with a volunteer beach cleanup. This year, the crew collected more than 400 pounds of trash. Carlson and her team weed through it to find the pieces that can be reused and sorts them into boxes to be given to artists.
The exhibit’s rules ask that 80% of the piece be comprised of the collected garbage and any pieces that aren’t used must be disposed of properly.
“The artists don’t actually even see what’s in their box. We close the boxes up and they just take them at random. And then we ask them to do something beautiful with it,” Carlson said.
Thanks to several sponsors, including Aldea Coffee and Anytime Junk Removal, the show included prizes for the top entries, judged by local artist Colleen Rockey.
Kris Campau took home $100 and first place — a three-way tie with her entries: “Lucky Duck,” “Lake Shark” and “Man Eater.” Jan McLaughlin’s “Transformation” was awarded second place. Christa Barnell earned third place for “New Me.”
Carlson, who owns and operates the Armory 2 Art Studio in Grand Haven, says her hope is to expand the event. The 2022 exhibit, which includes 25 pieces, is the largest turnout of the four years. She hopes to recruit double the number of artists for next year’s show.
“(We would love to) fill the whole hall,” Carlson said. “We had a nice artist reception last Friday night and we had nice participation with that. I’m just amazed at everyone’s creativity and what they see and what they think of when they pick up the stuff.”
Each piece in the exhibit is up for sale. At least three have already sold.