Last year, Presley Martin participated in Art for Water, a program created by the nonprofit environmental organization Freshwater with the goal of engaging artists in the fight to protect our waterways. Inspired by what he learned in this program, Presley created A Field Guide to Plastic of the Mississippi River, a series of images that introduces viewers to the many ways plastics integrate themselves into the natural environment. The Field Guide shows how styrofoam can blend in with rocks and sand, while other obviously recognizable detritus such as blue surgical masks and nitrile gloves make the human impact on the landscape highly visible.
Presley Martin brings an artist’s perspective to cleaning up the river. He scours the riverbank near his Minneapolis home for discarded bits of styrofoam and plastic and then arranges the items he finds for photographs or reassembles them into found-object sculptures. For one of his recent projects, Floating Meditations, Presley spent 30 minutes on a dock, grabbing all the plastic that floated by within arm’s reach, and then he photographed the items. The resulting images represent a tiny sample of the vast quantity of plastic polluting the river.