New art exhibit at Omaha’s Lauritzen Gardens focuses on water pollution

A new art exhibit at Omaha's Lauritzen Gardens shows the impact trash is having on our oceans and water.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 3:47 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – It’s called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea. The traveling exhibit opens this weekend at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha.

A nonprofit organization has turned debris, found along the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean, into giant sculptures. It’s a message activists want people to hear about the environment and the pollution in our waterways.

A huge shark might look a bit menacing, but if you take a closer look you will see smaller items like bottle caps and rusted out cigarette lighters attached to it.

A giant salmon is on display with discarded and crunched up water bottles as well as lost plastic flip flops.

A triggerfish with golf balls that are no longer usable that somebody left along the shoreline.

“Bringing awareness to folks that this problem is something we can all take part in solving,” said Brad Parks, conservation director for Washed Ashore. “Whether you are inland like here in Omaha or on the beach it’s something we all contribute to, things we buy and use everyday that’s what you see on our sculptures.”

So why come to Omaha? Because of the mighty Missouri River that churns here between Nebraska and Iowa. It cuts through the middle of the country feeding into many communities both upstream and downstream from Omaha all the way to St. Louis.

Parks says discarded junk on the shoreline and at the bottom of the river needs to be exposed.

“It goes from our parking lots into the storm drains unfortunately into the river and then fish and other creatures get entangled in it or mistake it for food and it ends up causing issues.”

The exhibit will be on display until mid-May. In addition, Lauritzen Gardens is planning to host a river cleanup on March 18.

Organizers are urging the public to sign up and get involved.