by Gabriel Guzman

Pam Longobardi is an artist, anthropologist, and activist whose aim is to save the world one plastic item at a time. You could almost say her life was pre-determined. Her parents, one an ocean lifeguard and the other a Delaware state diving champion, passed on a strong love for the sea. She currently lives in Atlanta, where she is a professor at Georgia State University.

Art by Pam LongobardiShe is well known for her Drifters Project that she began in 2006, which has now made its way to the art exhibit at the University of West Georgia. Longobardi’s project is a collection of plastic found in the ocean transformed into works of art.

This project stems from an experience in Hawaii, where she encountered enormous piles of plastic that the ocean had been expelling. When she began her project, the mass of plastic churning around in the middle of the ocean was about the size of Texas, then it became nearly the size of the continental United States, according to Longobardi.

“This plastic was shocking to me. I couldn’t imagine where all this came from. It is not in a place that is inhabitable. It is a place that is remote,” Longobardi said. “At first, I thought this is someone dumping this material, then I realized the ocean was vomiting this material. It was full of plastic. It’s attempting to get rid of it.”

Longobardi says that all the plastic found and used in her Drifters Project, as well as the plastic we harbor, is not biodegradable, and that the ocean needs our help to get rid of it.

“When I first saw this, I was determined to do something about it,” she recalled. “I first had to document it, so I came back with a tent, and I just started documenting pictures.”

Longobardi and her exhibit, the Drifters Project, were recently introduced at a reception in the College of Arts and Humanities at UWG. Guests were greeted with refreshments as they took a glimpse into Longobardi’s journey, which attempts to connect the psychological relationship of humans to the natural world. Her book “Drifters: Plastics, Pollution, and Personhood” was available for purchase at the event. Numerous faculty, staff and students stopped by to show their support and enthusiasm.

Posted on October 17, 2016