Neighborhood Art Project Focuses Attention On Keeping Lake Clean
As a frequent visitor to the shores of Lake Erie, Euclid resident Karen Steigerwald found a unique outlet for expressing her frustration with the amount of trash that ends up on the beach. Over the course of the summer she and members of her neighborhood association, The Brookwood Club, collected washed up garbage from the shoreline. From small chunks of plastic to cigarette filters to lighters and even toys, Steigerwald used the materials to create an art project for her neighborhood.
Inspired by Marcus Pfister’s children’s book, The Rainbow Fish, neighbors and friends worked together in creating unique artwork made from the debris they collected. Starting with one large design before developing a school of trash-decorated fish, Steigerwald wanted to help people realize that refuse thrown anywhere other than in a recycle or trash bin can end up in Lake Erie.
“I walk the beach to relax and enjoy the sunsets,” said Steigerwald. “When collecting beach glass I started to pay attention to all the garbage that washes ashore.” Wanting to make people aware that throwing items casually on the street or even flushing plastic down a toilet pollutes Lake Erie, resulting in a trash-strewn beachfront, Steigerwald turned her thoughts into art.
“Our neighborhood association, The Brookwood Club, is fortunate to be able to have access to the lake. We see the trash and try to keep it cleaned up. I just wanted to come up with an interesting way to let people know to dispose of their garbage the right way.”
Steigerwald organized a series of neighborhood decorating parties where about a dozen neighbors gathered to create the unique works of art. As the project grew, Steigerwald looked for a way to show the broader community the fruits of their labor and decided to host a display at the Euclid Art Walk in September. With hundreds of people casually strolling throughout the event, she had an opportunity to tell the story of the display along with fellow Brookwood Club member Diane Ramos.
“The Art Walk was a great event. Downtown Euclid was buzzing with activity and we got so much interest and positive feedback on the display. I was surprised by how many people stopped to take photos,” commented Steigerwald who along with Ramos fielded dozens of questions from curious visitors. She added that the Art Walk was a great venue for helping to spread the word about everyone’s role in helping to keep Lake Erie clean, emphasizing that the display was made from trash, not recycled materials.
A sign in her display showed a photo of a sewer grate with the words Lake Erie Starts Here printed above it. Steigerwald commented that this message is something most people forget. “If you throw some garbage on the ground, even something small like a cigarette, it gets washed down the sewer and dumped right into the lake. We all drink that water and many people want to swim or enjoy the lake in other ways. Nobody wants to drink or swim in trash-water. It only makes sense to keep Lake Erie clean by throwing away garbage where it belongs.”
Someone who lives in Euclid, enjoys writing and wants to stay informed. My wife and I have two children and live in the northeast part of the City. We are active in many Euclid activities.