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Cape Cod Artist Recycles Plastics Into Art For ‘Hope Is Not Passive’ Exhibit

By Sarah Wroblewski

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    CHATHAM, Massachusetts (WBZ) — From trash to treasure, a local photographer and artist from Cape Cod has been picking up plastic along our coast and transforming it into amazing works of art. Sarah Thornington is the marine debris artist that has a new exhibit currently showing to bring awareness to single-use plastic.

“This is Hope, she was made for this show, so I named her Hope,” Sarah Thornington points out while holding an image of her artwork.

Hope is an Atlantic Puffin, and with a declining population, considered a vulnerable species.

“She’s made out of zip ties, and child’s buckets, shovels and there’s even her eyes that are made from a wheel from a little toy car, strapping bands and bottle top lids and all kinds of stuff, ” Thornington explained.

Thornington is a Cape Cod portrait photographer and artist. Her new art exhibit is called Hope is Not Passive. The majority of the items are made out of the washed-up plastic garbage or toys, or even shoes she found on the beach.

“I had so much trash, that I was just horrified. So I thought to myself, I need to do an actual project,” Thornington said

She had decided to do a beach clean-up every day for a year. A challenge that soon would be conquered quicker than she imagined.

“I decided I would pick up five pieces of plastic a day, after nine days, I picked up the equivalent of the almost 2,000 pieces that I would have picked up if I only picked up five pieces a day,” said Thornington.

She has continued to set new goals and pick up trash.

“At the end of the year, I ended up picking up 21,000 pieces of plastic.”

From there, she cleaned them, sorted them in her basement, and was inspired to give these little treasures a new life.

“So I started creating art, taking photos and having shows, just trying to spread awareness,” Thornington explained. “In order for us to have the changes, see the changes that we want, we have to go out there and do something about it. So hope is not passive, it’s going to take all of us.”

In honor of earth month, her artwork has been on display at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell. There are also a variety of pieces at the Shark Center in Chatham.

“At the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which has both my art and images and also a collection of the debris and different things that is geared toward families and some hands-on things,” Thornington tells WBZ.

When viewing her artwork, Sarah hopes you’ll learn a little about single-use plastic and in turn be more mindful of the space and environment around us. More of her work can be found at and her Instagram @studiobysea.

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