Pam Longobardi’s parents, an ocean lifeguard and the Delaware state diving champion, connected her to water from an early age. After discovering mountains of plastic on remote Hawaiian shores in 2006, she founded the Drifters Project, centralizing the artist as culture worker/activist/researcher. Now a global collaborative entity, Drifters Project has removed tens of thousands of pounds of material from the natural environment and re-situated it as communicative social sculpture. Winner of the prestigious Hudgens Prize and Distinguished Professor at Georgia State University, Longobardi has been featured in National Geographic, SIERRA magazine, the Weather Channel and in exhibitions at galleries, museums and public spaces around the world. Longobardi co-directed the award-winning short film “Plastic Free Island” (2015) documenting her 6-year project in Kefalonia, Greece. Her most recent work engages the refugees and citizens on the island of Lesvos and is being shown in Oriel Myrddin Gallery in Wales and HATHAWAY in Atlanta.
Pam Longobardi’s newest work addresses the vast environmental and geopolitical forces re-ordering the world as we have known it through the traceable singularity that is oceanic plastic. As a universal material culture, plastic endures in the environment such that all plastic ever created still exists. As focus of her artistic research and investigation for over a decade, Longobardi most recent work engages the refugees and citizens on the island of Lesvos, the small Aegean island that has received nearly 600,000 refugees on its shores. In a continuation of her socially engaged practice, she began work in Lesvos in a collaboration with both refugees in several camps and the citizens of the island whose lives have also been transformed. The Flag of Lesvos is an ongoing project transforming the discarded plastic waste of the floatation life vests into the iconic symbol of a flag for the new nation of refugees. In addition, special edition Safe Passage bags designed and sewn by the refugees and Greek citizens are being sold to support the Lesvos Solidarity social enterprise. Other works in the exhibition include imagery of water, fires, distress signals, floating and sinking, refuge and escape. In addition to wall installations and sculptures of oceanic plastic, and photographic works, Longobardi has constructed intimate collages of defunct and devalued currency. Together these works examine and bear witness to the complex transformations happening now.