Art has the power to change the world, and no one knows this better than photographer Benjamin Von Wong, who has dedicated his entire career to push his own creative boundaries and produce controversial art pieces with a powerful social message. Von Wong is focusing on raising awareness on how much waste we produce, and for his latest installation, he’s focusing on a very common phrase: “It’s just one straw, said 8 billion people.”Straws are not only really hard to recycle, but there are over 500 million plastic straws being used collectively every single day in the United States alone. And that number is about to get much worse, unless we do something about it.
And even though the number is jaw-dropping all by itself, Von Wong took it one step further and took thousands of plastic straws and photographed them in a way that could show just how big of a problem we’re talking about.
But the Plastic Pollution Coalition estimates people expect to have plastic straws at every single cafe, restaurant, coffee shop, and ice cream shop, which encourage people to use them once and then immediately throw them away, which is insanely wasteful.
He wanted to showcase how much the average person consumes. Von Wong is a total pro at turning numbers into stunning art pieces that allow us to visualize these statistics. It’s one thing to say “500 million straws” and another thing to see them plastered all over a powerful art installation, like Von Wong’s Strawpocalypse.
So instead of making it easy on himself, he took the road less traveled and came up with a way to gather plastic straws for his works of art that didn’t involve buying them online, which he could’ve easily done.
He wanted people to realize we have an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality that makes this environmental tragedy even worse. Von Wong says, “The plastic problem is either out of sight, out of mind—or so omnipresent that it becomes invisible. I wanted to use art to tackle both angles—by creating something beautiful and unique out of an environmental tragedy.”
Over the course of two weeks, they washed the straws by hand, and sort them out by color. Yes, all 168,000 plastic straws! Now that’s a lot of work, but judging from the results, it was damn worth it.
Then, they used the transparent straws to create transitions and fill out different areas. This 100% upcycled installation used plastic bags to support the straws and LED light diffusers. The skeleton of the sculpture, which was around 11 feet tall, was the perfect canvas for Von Wong’s Strawpocalypse. The straws were arranged in a way that imitated Monet’s art: from far away, you wouldn’t be able to visualize them as straws, you’d actually mistake them for paint strokes.
**If you happen to be around Estella Place in Ho Chi Minh, don’t miss out Von Wong’s impressive Strawpocalypse. The full installation will be opened until March 24, 2019, so don’t miss out on this colorful work of art that packs a mighty punch and raises awareness about one hell of an important issue.**