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  • Writer's pictureSteph Holmes

Bringing the Ocean Home; Painting A Mural

Me celebrating the completion of my mural (photograph by Roberto Perez).

The paint has just dried on my latest project, which was a commissioned mural for CRDC USA. Not only was this project a blast, but it was also for a cause I hold very near and dear to my heart.

I had heard rumor around York that we had a new, magical solution to the plastic problem -- that a company had just moved into town that could recycle all 7 resins, not just #1 and #2 plastic like we were accustomed. I'm not someone who likes to rely on hearsay, so I showed up at the office with a hundred or so questions unwilling to let go of my bag of plastic until I knew more about this process and place.

Collected plastic waiting to go through the recycling process at CRDC USA.

"Are there any toxic by-products created by your process? Does this affect the air quality of the surrounding neighborhood? What do you actually do with all of this plastic?" I began the conversation skeptical but by the end, I was a convert nodding my head and smiling. They had clearly thought through every detail and created a process and product that is nothing but benevolent. In fact with CRDC's help; York, PA could become the first plastic neutral city in the USA!

I'll give you the elevator pitch version, but if you have your own list of questions, I suggest you book a tour because I am by no means an expert. CRDC USA's mission is to keep plastic out of waterways by converting landfill-bound plastic waste or any contaminated mixed ocean plastic into a "plastic rock"​ aggregate that can be used in construction.

So what about this mural, you say?

Before I left that day, I just casually mentioned to them why this mission means so much to me -- that I'm an eco-conscious artist doing my best to cut down on my own impact. The Plant Manager's eyes lit up at that and he admitted to me he and the Chief Operating Officer had just been discussing the possibility of having a mural created right here in the warehouse where they were expecting to start educational tours. Then he asked me if I painted animals.

I laughed and replied, "Yes... that's what I do." And with that, this mural project was born.

The large blank wall at CRDC that would soon become the site to my mural.

Visual art has a power that nothing else can replicate. You can be told the facts: that bringing your plastic here keeps it out of landfills, gives it new life, makes cement lighter and more eco-friendly, keeps our oceans cleaner and saves sea life... but how much of that are you actually going to absorb? To feel? That's where art comes in.

By bringing the octopus into the space and making it larger-than-life, every visitor will be confronted with one of the many beneficiaries of their plastic contributions to CRDC USA. I want visitors to feel the goodness in their actions. It's so easy to forget that our every action can have such an impact on others thousands of miles away, but it's true... and I hope this mural will help serve as a reminder.

Painting Begins

Like most of my art, this mural project started off with a series of very involved sketches. Working very closely with the team at CRDC felt more like a collaboration than a client-artist relationship, and we landed on a design that both artist and team liked.

Final sketch for the mural at CRDC.

And then I got to work!

Artists and creatives are all chasing after this elusive state called flow. Flow happens seemingly randomly, but it's this beautiful feeling where the art seems to grow organically from your fingertips. Time no longer exists. Distractions no longer exist. Things are easy. Decisions come easily.

Do you see the 8 from their Resin8 product logo in the tentacles?

Since experiencing loss earlier this year, I have not experienced much flow. Things have felt clunky and difficult to form on the paper or canvas. So I was surprised to find myself in the flow state all 6 workdays I spent on this project.

Focused, not tempted by distraction, and confident in each move of the roller, this mural was like no other creative project I've ever embarked on.

Needless to say, I'm hoping to paint more murals from here on out. Keep me in mind if you have a big blank wall to fill!

The finished mural! (photograph by Roberto Perez)

I'm so grateful to have stumbled into this partnership with CRDC USA and I hope to find more places with large walls (perhaps even another eco-conscious business?) that may need a bit of art to brighten up their spaces and inspire their visitors!

If we are going to save this planet and all of the creatures who call it home, we've got to tackle the plastic problem today. For my little town of York, it just got a whole lot easier for us to begin doing just that.

Learn more about CRDC Global here.

Contact me if you'd like to chat about your mural idea here.

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