A Plastic Pollution Study of Lake Erie
By Alexis Oltmer, Solo Exhibition Winner, 2019 CEPA Gallery Members’ Exhibit
Advocacy and the preservation of fresh water is a staple of Oltmer’s art practice. Being born and raised in Endicott NY, Oltmer has been inﬂuenced and shaped by growing up with the duality of living in a space which was overrun with wild aspects of nature yet opposed by the fast pace and over looked aspects of our consumer society, and riddled with environmental crisis.
Endicott, remains an active class 2 superfund site due to wide spread ground water contamination which lead to a chemical plume caused by IBM in 1979, more recently after remediation and clean up efforts toxic gasses are now prevalent in the area. In late 2011 due to climate change, Endicott once again made national news due to a massive ﬂood which left her childhood home destroyed. That home was situated next to a highway that sat on protected wetlands. One inﬂuential childhood chore which had an inﬂuence on her current body of work was to pick up litter weekly from the side of the road thrown by cars and passersby. Oltmer has her family and public school education to thank for the inspiration and education regarding the importance of environmental projection, respect, justice, and advocacy.
In 2019, Oltmer partnered with the Alliance of the Great Lakes to provide all of her plastic pollution data. She founded #PlasticfreeBuffalo a community based extension of the art project where she coordinated 8 beach clean ups with local institutions, schools, businesses, inﬂuencers and community members. Each clean up was lead with an introduction to Emerald Beach and how it is affected by micro plastics, trash, and plastic pollution which has been deposited via water, air, and daily trafﬁc. Clean ups were concluded with a group discussion as to how we can positively impact our community by demanding corporate sustainability and encouraging individuals to take steps to reduce their plastic consumption and be empowered to have conversations on the topic with their loved ones.
Oltmer has exhibited across Buffalo and plans to travel For Future Generations to cities which reside on The Great Lakes. If you’ re interested in a private tour of For Future Generations, want to chat about plastic pollution research, trouble shoot how to organize better as a community, or to set up a beach clean up or lecture with @plasticfreebuffalo, Oltmer is best reached at:
- Instagram (@AlexisOltmer)