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An interior view of the Earth Poetica sculpture.
Photograph: By Jason R.Davis /

A stunning globe made of plastic waste is coming to NYC

It's made of plastic bags, bottles and cups turned into a stained glass-like material.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

In artist Beverly Barkat hands, discarded plastic bags, bottles and cups transformed into stained glass-like pieces that she fused together to create a giant globe. Her stunning yet jarring artwork will be on view in Lower Manhattan starting in early June. 

To create "Earth Poetica," Barkat worked with conservationists across the world who sent her locally sourced plastic waste. She used those to create 180 colorful panels portraying regions of the Earth whose continents and oceans are suffocating under growing masses of plastic waste. The sculpture be on view for free in the lobby of 3 World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan starting on Monday, June 5, which is World Environment Day, and running through November.

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The project began when Barkat saw images in a documentary film of children picking through trash along the seashore. With those jarring images in her mind, Barkat began collecting plastic waste and enlisting help from environmentalists across the world. As nearly 55 tons of plastic waste overtook her studio, she sorted the items by color, form, hardness, strength and transparency. Then, using a soy resin, she figured out a way to transmute the plastics into pieces that look like stained glass. 

A close up view of the colors in Earth Poetica.
Photograph: By Amit Elkayam

As pieces echoed the colors and landscapes of oceans, mountains and forests, Barkat began assembling a base for the sculpture. She used a steel structure to imitate latitude and longitude lines, then added bamboo scaffolding.

Visitors can see light stream through the 13-foot sculpture and can also peek inside a portal to see what it’s really made of—trash, such as bags, bottles, cups and yogurt containers. At first glance, the sculpture looks like a beautiful rendering of the globe until closer inspection reveals how humans have turned the pristine natural landscape into a dumping ground. 

Beverly Barkat's "Earth Poetica" Public Art Installation At 3 World Trade Center, New York, NY
Photograph: By Eugene Gologursky

“We are confronted today by a plastic pandemic of such magnitude that our very survival is at stake,” Barkat wrote on her website. “Our fragile relationship with nature has reached a tipping point, necessitating action.”

Beverly Barkat’s "Earth Poetica", made from tons of plastic waste collected worldwide, opens as a free public art installation at 3 World Trade Center on June 05, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images)
Photograph: By Eugene Gologursky

The piece is traveling to New York City from Barkat's home country of Israel where the sculpture was previously on view at an aquarium in Jerusalem. The NYC presentation coincides with the 50th anniversary of the United Nation’s World Environment Day.

Artist Beverly Barkat at work.
Photograph: By Oren Ben Hakoon

"It is exciting that the World Trade Center—itself a symbol of astonishing renewal—is the exhibition space for Earth Poetica, which likewise signals a message of hope and renewal," Barkat said in a press release.

“Earth Poetica” will join several other public artworks on view in Lower Manhattan, including pieces by Jenny Holzer, James Rosenquist, Kozo Nishino, Tara Donovan and Frank Stella. 

Bags of plastic waste.
Photograph: Courtesy of Earth Poetica

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