Judith Selby-Lang and Richard Lang

artists / environmentalists / innovators

Beach Plastic

Bricolage: design for life

October 26 | 8:30 & 10:30 | 90 Minutes | McMenamins, Father Luke's Room

How does plastic beach trash make its way to the walls of SF-MOMA? Through the bricolage artwork of Judith Selby-Lang and Richard Lang. What started out as an act of “planetary housekeeping”— picking up washed-up plastic at Kehoe Beach in Northern California—became a series of intricate patterns and studied compositions that have been featured in museums, film festivals, and international media. The artists note that it also turned into an immediate and compelling source of free art supplies. In their words:

“The works we create are intended to be visually enticing and free of polemic. As we have developed connoisseurship of the plastic, we have found, that each bit opens a window-view on the nature of contemporary life; that this colorful stuff is the thermoplastic junk of our modern culture. And each bit has a story to tell about its origin, its use, and its demise.

“In our workshop we will take participants on a journey — from discovering the artistic potential of trash to transforming it into creative metaphor. We invite participants to discover the shapes and sizes that speak to them, then make their own artful arrangements. Along the way, we will talk about our inspirations (Caravaggio, Hiroshige, and Kandinsky) and influences (jazz music).”

Where I'll Be

October 26 | 8:30 & 10:30 Bricolage: design for life

Judith Selby-Lang and Richard Lang are collaborative artists, environmentalists, and innovators whose work has been featured in over 70 exhibitions. As a collaborative team, they have visited Kehoe Beach hundreds of times to gather plastic debris washing out of the Pacific Ocean. From just 1,000 yards of this one beach they have collected tons of material. By carefully collecting and curating the bits of plastic, they fashion it into works of art that matter-of-factly show, with minimal artifice, the material as it is.

Their artwork has been featured in galleries, museums, educational institutions, and science centers including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the United Nations World Environment Day, Stanford University, and the University of San Francisco. International festivals and conferences using their work as a visual focus include Mountainfilm in Telluride, Ocean Film Festival in Hong Kong, and Inspire Film Festival in Houston.

To date, ten films have documented their work, airing on The Today Show, PBS Newshour, The Travel Channel, Wowwow Tokyo, as well as NBC and ABC affiliates. Traveling exhibits have accompanied the films. They have presented talks at Applied Brilliance in Jackson Hole, Newseum in Washington, DC, Dallas Art Museum, Oakland Museum of California, Oxbow School in Napa, CA, and California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Their work is widely collected nationally and internationally, including a display at the US Embassy in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.

In addition, Cavallo Point Lodge in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area commissioned their artwork for each of its 155 guest rooms. The California Coastal Commission commissioned advertising images seen in posters and on placards and bus signage. Lang and Selby-Lang are cited as co-authors in a report from the University of Tokyo about concentrations of pollutants in plastic pellets, published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.

The artists say, “Our work has been embraced by the public for its exuberant beauty and in this way, we have been able to bring awareness to a challenging environmental problem.”