Del Mar kids make Chihuly-inspired art from recyclables

Dale Chihuly’s Salk Institute installation (left) was the inspiration behind a trash-to-treasure display at the Del Mar Post Office (right).
Dale Chihuly’s Salk Institute installation (left) was the inspiration behind a trash-to-treasure display at the Del Mar Post Office (right).

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For the next month, the Del Mar Post Office is sporting a new look — one of color, creativity and conservatism.

With the help of each and every student at Del Mar Hills Academy, local moms Becky Deller and Mara Bickett spearheaded “Plastique Chihuly,” an art installation on the post office’s front garden that will be on display through Sept. 20. Inspired by the work of famed glass artist Dale Chihuly — known for museum installations and exhibits worldwide, such as the “Sun” installation at La Jolla’s Salk Institute and iconic glass décor at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas — Deller and Bickett incorporated their mutual dedication to preserving the environment into a community-wide project for the public to enjoy.

The installation consists of seven masses of fused plastic bottles suspended from trees and bushes that, from afar, resemble Chihuly’s colorful, bouquets of blown glass. The installation was made possible with the blessing and help of the Del Mar Garden Club, Del Mar lifeguards and the Del Mar postmaster himself, the ladies said.

“We got inspired when we visited the Salk Institute and saw his piece there,” said Bickett, whose daughter Claire is best friends with Deller’s daughter (also named Claire). “The bottles are very organic, like his artwork, and we thought it would be a good creative marriage.”

The two moms not only incorporated the project into Del Mar Hills Academy’s K-6 art classes, with sixth-graders being the “project managers,” but they also held a community event in which everyone was welcome to meet at Seagrove Park and help assemble and paint the works of art. There were eight pieces total, but one unfortunately one fell apart, the ladies said.

Most importantly, Deller and Bickett said, the kids worked together to collect and bring to school thousands of bottles of all sizes and shapes to be used in the installation.

“We are raising awareness about what man-made materials are doing to our oceans,” said Deller. “Del Mar really cares about the ocean, so it’s a great fit. It’s also a beautiful representation of trash.”

Bickett said it was so fulfilling to hear passers-by comment on the beauty and meaning of the installation during the three days it took to install it.

“There was a lot of curiosity about how it was assembled,” she said. “People were also surprised that we could pull this off with the material we used.”

— Claire Harlin

   
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