The Plastic Bottle-Tops Project

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the Plastic Bottle-top Project

Doha, Qatar, 2012

In 2011, my friend Dr. Sarah Clarke invited me to design a mural to be made out of plastic bottle tops. It was a site-specific work for the very up-market shopping mall, “The Pearl” in Doha, Qatar. The Pearl is committed to environmentally friendly waste management. I visited the site and saw that there was nowhere to display a normal flat mural, so came up with the idea of creating a free-standing octagonal structure of 8 8’ x 4’ panels.

For months schools restaurants, individuals, and all the stores at the Pearl collected over 25,000 plastic bottletops.

We created the piece over two long weekends, enlisting the help of hundreds of volunteers from local businesses and schools and clubs. All of the materials used were recycled and donated.

The resulting mural was 8 feet tall and 32 feet long, and the subject matter was the ecology of Qatar, with dugongs, dolphins, flamingoes and the symbol of Qatar, the ibex, as well as some of the iconic modern architecture.

An unforeseen benefit was that in looking for a quotation to link the panels, to be written in Arabic and English on the banners at the top of the piece, I found both traditional Navaho teachings, and a beautiful speech by Chief Seattle, that inspired me to explore my own Native American heritage.

Treat the earth well.

It was not given to you by your parents, but loaned to you by your children.

All things are joined together. All things connect.

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