In the spring of 2020 the world stood still, the pandemic became the opportunity for the earth to build and for a short term clean the air. During the period of lockdown across the world, the sight of the blue sky created a sense of optimism among the people towards a fresh and better environment.
As the world was put on pause, Mother Nature was allowed to breathe for the first time in many years, but as this happened we were bombarded with stories about how nature is healing, stories reporting how in Venice the famous waterways were clear enough to see the riverbeds, with shoals of fish encouraging wildfowl to return, in a quiet New York, you could hear the birds chirp and the deer stroll down Madison Avenue, in Alaska, biologists observed behavioral changes such as humpback whales napping, socializing, and feeding in the middle of the normally unbearably loud shipping channels, or Orcas off the coast of Scotland been observed coming closer to shore than ever. These stories continued to flood but the reality is unfortunately more complicated.
Our oceans were flooded with an estimated 1.5 billion face masks, this resulted in an additional 6,000 metric tonnes of marine plastic pollution, taking as long as 450 years to break down, slowly turning into micro plastics and ending up in our marine life. What’s even worse, the 6,000 tonnes of face masks are just a small fraction of the estimated 12 million tonnes of plastic that enter our oceans each year.
Great art is powerful and thought provoking, it can grasp you in different ways and make your thoughts evolve to new distances. Art can bring you feelings you did not know you had and nature has been inspiring artists for centuries. I wanted to take my relationship with my art and the environment a step further, to create a bold statement about the natural world and the imprint mankind is making on it.
I wanted my ocean paintings to represent the marine life affected by the pollution in such a way that people would take notice, start a dialogue, and ultimately result in an emotional experience. Working with my friend and carbon tech genius Tim Sperry, we developed a natural paint that was able to actually clean and purify the air once it was applied, it would act as a filtration system absorbing and purifying the air around it for the next few years, neutralizing harmful air pollutants such as VOC’s and Carbon Dioxide. It was a game changer and I knew I had the opportunity to make works now that people would notice.
I then teamed up with Doug Ivey at EarthVision who’s vision is to manufacture a new category of sustainable products to replace plastic, molded fiber, wood and paper products with earth-friendly alternatives.
My hope is after the current health crisis, the world will face a choice, do we want to go back to the way we were, or do we want to use these lessons to rally together and reduce our carbon footprints worldwide?
My goal is from this living breathing purifying series of works, they will influence society and motivate people to attribute a new meaning to life and our current existence.
“I had been thinking for quite some time how to create a series of paintings that would be cemented in the time they were made, paintings that could only have been painted at an absolute specific time and place in our history, with this world’s first technology available to me, I believe I created them.”
Roni Stretch 2021
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