It’s Just A Plastic Bag

Virginia Fleck takes throw away, single use plastic bags, that would normally end up in a landfill, and turns them into beautiful pieces of art.  Each piece is unique as she creates mandalas out of used plastic bags.  The intricate mandalas are a collage of color that may contain some print material depending on the bags she uses.  Her pieces have been featured in art museums throughout the world.

Virginia was originally trained in quilt making and her colorfully layered mandalas reflect the same type of storied detail that goes into a quilt.  Realities of consumerism, excess, a disposable society and disregard for the environment cannot elude the viewer.  However, vision, creativity, humor, recyclability and environmental awareness gives the viewer hope and something to smile about.  Another contrasting element in her work is that traditional Tibetan sand mandalas are impermanent.  Flecks’ mandalas are permanent because they are made with non-biodegradable plastic bags.

Virginia Fleck currently lives in Austin, Texas.  Austin is in the process of implementing a ban on plastic bags, following Brownsville’s lead.  Brownsville, Texas is the first city in Texas to ban plastic bags.  Brownsville is helping lead the way for areas like Austin in helping to gather documents, contact lawyers, and reaching out to citizens on educating them about the positive affects of reusable shopping bags rather than plastic or paper.

In July of 2011, Austin’s mayor and city council members voted unanimously in favor of the plastic ban to get city staffers to work on a proposal. A plan will be presented in November. The Austin-American Statesman claims that city estimates have Austin spending $850,000 every year to clean up 263 million plastic bags as litter and to discard in landfill.  Using eco friendly reusable bags may be a habit consumers have to get use to in 2012.

However, as long as plastic bags continue to blow in the wind and down our streets, Virginia’s colorful mandalas will continue to reveal the hidden beauty of the overlooked, disposable material of plastic bags.  For more information on Virginia Fleck, go to the New Haven Register.

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