Credit: Courtesy

A new site-specific installation titled Message in a Bottle, by Elizabeth Criss, is now on view at the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature in Solvang. On view through spring 2024, this installation aims to raise awareness about the critical problem of plastic pollution that’s in our oceans and the damage that it causes to sea-life ecosystems.

Designed specifically for the Michele Kuelbs Tower Gallery, this exhibition marks the third iteration of the museum’s tower installation program, which aims to highlight Southern California artists inspired by the environment and provides an indoor-outdoor art experience for visitors.

Criss’s proposal was selected from the museum’s request for artist proposals focusing on environmental impacts on the ocean. Executive Director Stacey Otte-Demangate said, “We received several strong proposals for the space this year and felt that Elizabeth struck just the right tone with important environmental messaging about the harm of plastics in our oceans while done in a creative and family-friendly way.”

When they walk in, viewers are immersed in an underwater world that presents both playful and wary sea life. Repurposed plastics in the form of painted, wide-eyed PVC fish; hanging strands of medicine-bottle kelp; and intricately cut jellyfish created from liter soda bottles make the space home.

Through her creative vision exploring complex and wondrous aspects of life with environmental concern for sustainability, Criss hopes to inspire viewers to consider their environmental impact by highlighting the negative consequences of disposable conveniences for future generations.

“Through this artwork, I aim to inspire viewers to reflect on their plastic consumption and consider the actions they can take to minimize their plastic footprint,” said Criss. “By recognizing the problems and developing collective strategies, we can combat plastic pollution and preserve the vitality of our oceans for generations to come.”

Message in a Bottle is on view at the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature (1511-B Mission Dr., Solvang) from May 2023 to February 2024. The museum is open Thu.–Mon. See


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