Over the course of the 2020-2021 school year, dozens of art and fashion students at Northport High School worked alongside teacher Robin O’Neill Gonzales and artist Oksana Danzinger to create “United Waste of America.” This large scale map of America made entirely out of plastic waste was recognized during New York Textile Month, as students, Ms. O’Neill-Gonzalez and Ms. Danzinger presented virtually to those attending the event.
When presenting the piece of art, Ms. O’Neill-Gonzales explained how the students worked with herself and Oksana to map out the piece and practice weaving on small looms before taking on the large scale creation. Once students familiarized themselves with the weaving process, they began working on individual states using various forms of plastic including plastic bags, straws, and packaging filler to create a colorful and textured artwork.
Several students also presented to attendees, explaining their creative process and the techniques used. Ms. O’Neill-Gonzalez praised them for their hard work to bring the creation to life, despite working under a hybrid model for the majority of the project.
The end result was a nearly nine foot by 12 foot piece of art created entirely of hand woven plastic. With bottle caps and beads used to mark capitals and iconic locations and special textured weaving techniques used to designate mountaineous areas, the piece has a tremendous visual impact. Currently, the plan is to hang it in the high school for future generations to admire and inspire conversation about plastic waste in America.
New York Textile Month is described as “a month-long city-wide festival designed to celebrate textile creativity and promote textile awareness,” with the school’s presentation being one of several educational events and programs available during the month.