Recycled Plastic Animal Sculptures Wander Into The Desert Botanical Garden

By Amanda Luberto, Mark Brodie, Lauren Gilger
Published: Monday, October 28, 2019 - 12:36pm

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Wild Rising snail by Cracking Art
Desert Botanical Garden
Wild Rising snail sculpture by Cracking Art.

As the temperatures begin to cool down, Arizonans will have more reasons to spend some much needed time outdoors. The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, in particular, has a new incentive to visit.

In addition to their cactus lined landscapes, now you can see “Wild Rising,” a new art installation from Cracking Arts.

The exhibit features more than a thousand animal sculptures that are made out of recyclable plastics. Lauren Warren is the director of exhibits at the gardens and she said that, after the sculptures are shown in 4 or 5 exhibits, it’s not the end of their life cycle.

“So there's this constant act of regeneration ... they’re constantly reusing that material, and so 100% of each one of the sculptures is used, nothing is wasted from that and then it becomes a new sculpture,” she said.

All of the statues are human sized or bigger and are brightly colored. There are snails, meerkats, penguins and even a giant white elephant to represent the "elephant in the room."

Warren said the presence of the statue alone is supposed to make you think about why they feel so unexpected.

“That juxtaposition of the natural and the artificial, the artificial being the sculptures and the natural being our desert environment, is really positioned to prompt visitors to pause and reflect on the presence of plastic in our world,” she said.

The strong environmental message was important to Warren when she thought to bring Cracking Art’s newest piece to the gardens, but she also said the exhibit just makes people happy when they see it.

“They really do kind of spark a very joyful response, they’re just fun, and that natural whimsy really kind of evokes happiness,” she said.

The exhibit is open now at the Desert Botanical Gardens and will run until the middle of May.

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