Transformation Powers “From Plastic to Fantastic” Exhibit at Surfing Heritage and Culture Center

From Plastic to Fantastic. Photo by Lisa Black.

Transformation is the force at work in “From Plastic to Fantastic,” a fascinating exhibit at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center (SHACC) in San Clemente. The exhibit asks visitors—the surf community and everyone else—to rethink on a global scale what’s possible with the objects we use, purchase and discard, all while visually charming us at every angle by the installation’s museum-quality display skills, art, trash, entrepreneurial ingenuity and educational tools.

Barry Haun, curator and creative director, says SHACC is an archive of surfboards and surf-related images, serving as a resource for museums such as the Smithsonian, but it’s not a museum itself. However, Haun’s fine art background and love for what he does is evident throughout. The exquisite photos of Rusty Long/A-Frame Photos capture plastic-filled seas or pristine surf spots and the giant mobiles of Laguna Beach native Jim Olarte blend seamlessly with the surf-industry related garments and accouterments that are being made from human-induced ocean detritus.

From Plastic to Fantastic. Photo by Lisa Black.

Before-and-after transformations are everywhere in “From Plastic to Fantastic,” but often the found objects, such as the surfboard glasser’s shoes in the photo above, become readymade art while doing their job representing “before” because they are just so fun to look at. So are the coveted objects artisans are making from that resin under the glasser’s feet and on the sneakers he just can’t get on anymore, such as Betty.B’s jewelry, which rivals anything for sale at the Corning Museum of Glass’s gift shop. Multiple swatches of fishing net with unique colors and knotting textures are skillfully layered on the wall next to the “after” garment they will become. And the five stages from plastic bottle to usable yarn is a study in color and pattern in the display for Thread.

While the ocean debris is captivating to look at on its trash-to-treasure journey, in the back of my mind I’m seeing miles of rogue fishing net entangling whales as they swim through the “Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch” of plastic. Then I encounter one of Olarte’s towering mobiles created from gleaned boat wreckage and my eye travels up its length to the ceiling towering above. That’s when I see strung up in a huge fishing net a pile of foam and plastic that should be upcycled, not set afloat in the ocean. It’s a startling sight, seeing what had been in my mind’s eye actually hanging above me, remaking the exhibit from something intriguing to behold into a shift in consciousness.

That hammock of trash contains items visitors are encouraged to bring to the show for upcycling and to be entered in a drawing to win some of the ingeniously re-made products displayed. Natural wine corks; clean styrofoam packaging, such as what a bottle of booze might be shipped to you in, because that foam will be compressed to make surfboard blanks; wetsuits; or kiteboard sails are all eligible for potential prizes such as a cork-sourced yoga block or footpad, a swim garment from the fantastic RubyMoon, an Enjoy handplane, or even Tiki Art from BoHauna.

From Plastic to Fantastic. Photo by Lisa Black.

“Surfboards get broken,” says Haun. Waves break near reefs and rocky points, so of course boards are going to smash up into interesting pieces. Enjoy, a local company, makes handplanes from these bits, decorates them from patterned garments, repurposes wetsuits into the handles and any resin not used in the process is poured into a tiki mold. After about ten handplanes have been fashioned, you end up with Tiki Art by BoHauna, a collaboration of Haun, his girlfriend and sourced from the guys of Enjoy—who know plenty about creative sourcing. But so does Haun, who used reclaimed cardboard for the exhibit’s info cards and mounted display photos on aluminum instead of foam core, because the metal is easily re-used and will stand up to the wear and tear of travel, should the show go on the road as Haun hopes.

An anonymous donor provided grant-funding for “From Plastic to Fantastic,” covering scholarships given to the high school essay contest winners, research, creation of the exhibit’s materials, and the opening party. Ila Jane Foskett and Joseph Bell, seniors at San Clemente High School, each received $1,000 for their writing. And in Bell’s essay, we are reminded that plastic is in itself not the culprit here, its singular applications in medicine are life-saving, but he asks us to “distinguish between ‘life-essential’ and ‘life-convenient’ uses, working to significantly reduce the latter by conservation and substitute materials.” And that’s what this exhibit is all about, learning to distinguish while at the same time observing how mutable our world and everything in it can be.

From Plastic to Fantastic. Photo by Lisa Black.

“From Plastic to Fantastic” runs through November 26 at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center, 110 Calle Iglesia, San Clemente, (949) 388-0313;

3 Replies to “Transformation Powers “From Plastic to Fantastic” Exhibit at Surfing Heritage and Culture Center”

  1. Wow, awesome weblog structure! How long have you ever been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The total look of your website is wonderful, let alone the content material!
    You can see similar: sklep internetowy and here sklep internetowy

  2. Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this web site on a
    regular basis, this web page is in fact good and
    the viewers are actually sharing nice thoughts. I saw similar
    here: ecommerce and also here: dobry sklep

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *