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Kelly Jazvac and Patricia Corcoran on the Global Problem of Plastics Pollution

Join Canadian artist Kelly Jazvac and geologist Patricia Corcoran as they discuss the global problem of plastics pollution and their collaborative work to address it. Jazvac, Corcoran, and oceanographer Charles Moore introduced the now ubiquitous term "plastiglomerate" in a 2014 article published in GSA Today, based on field research conducted on Kamilo Beach, Hawaii. Since then, Jazvac and Corcoran have helped to found the Synthetic Collective, an interdisciplinary group of artists, scientists, and others working to sample, map, understand, and visualize the complexities of plastics and micro-plastics pollution in the Great Lakes region. As Jazvac points out, simply recycling plastic is not a feasible solution, given the overwhelming amounts dumped into the environment. More awareness-raising and engagement with communities, governmental agencies, the plastics industry as well as practitioners from various disciplines are needed to tackle the deeply entangled problem of plastics pollution.

Kelly Jazvac is a Canadian artist based in Montréal, Canada. She is also part of a plastic pollution research team called The Synthetic Collective, which includes scientists, artists, art historians, philosophers, and writers. The work of this research group is highly influential on Jazvac’s artistic practice. She currently has exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art (New York), and (forthcoming) at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto. Her recent exhibitions include the Musée D’Art Contemporain (Montréal), the Eli and Edyth Broad Museum (East Lansing), Ujazdowski Castle CCA (Warsaw), and FIERMAN Gallery (New York). Her work has been written about in National Geographic, e-flux Journal, Hyperallergic, Art Forum, The New Yorker, Canadian Art Magazine, and The Brooklyn Rail. Her co-authored, collaborative art/science research has been published in scientific journals including Nature Reviews, GSA Today, and Science of the Total Environment.

Dr. Patricia Corcoran is a Professor and Department Chair of Earth Sciences at the University of Western Ontario. Her research focuses on natural and anthropogenic sedimentary deposits and how they are influenced by climate, source, and transport processes over time. One significant element of her research is the distribution, accumulation and degradation of plastic debris in marine and fresh water shoreline, river, and lake bottom sediments. She has published over 20 scientific articles and book chapters concerning plastics pollution and has given numerous public presentations on the topic. Her work is supported by the Canadian provincial and federal governments, and has been featured in over 60 media outlets, including National Geographic Magazine, Science Magazine, Science et Vie, the New York Times and CBC’s The National.

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