The monumental pieced animals made by scientist Katherine Owens are not only visually striking, they are also a lesson. Owens uses quilts, a familiar and comforting object, to educate her collaborators and students about something hard and dangerous—plastics.
According to environmental organizations Beyond Plastics and The Last Beach Cleanup, “Of the 40 million tons of plastic waste generated in the United States last year, only five to six percent—or about two million tons—was recycled. Textile production also creates a massive amount of waste, with the Environmental Protection Agency estimating that that recycling rate for textiles was under fifteen percent in 2018. By creating her pieced animals out of plastic, Owens is raising awareness of the danger of plastics for sea creatures while also creatively reusing an object that would otherwise go to waste.
Importantly, Owens also invites the collaborators who help to create her life-sized quilts to sign a piece of the back, which helps to not only document her quilt but also sustain the practice of quiltmaking to younger generations.
Additional Quilt Information:
Materials Canvas, thread, plastic film packaging
Technique Hand-sewn with community assistance from kids at camps in Connecticut and New York. Each participant was invited to sign the back of the quilt.
Dimensions 86″ x 220″