NEW ORLEANS – The Green Project commissioned New Orleans artist Max Bernardi to paint a new 17-foot by 20-foot, partially dimensional mural and turn the artwork into an interactive exhibit to teach youth about environmental stewardship and the importance of recycling. The organization will host an unveiling ceremony for the new work on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 1 to 3 p.m.
The artwork depicts a New Orleans home next to a low-relief oak tree covered in Carnival beads. Underneath it sits a gutter and catch basin, with a drainage pipe symbolically spilling into an illustration of Lake Pontchartrain’s ecosystem. Using materials salvaged by the Green Project, Bernardi made the artwork using many of their products, such as a wooden door that was partially destroyed by termites, aluminum HVAC ducts and waste paint mixed with sawdust.
Erin Genrich is the Environmental Educator in charge of the M.E.S.S. Lab, which is the student and community place-based recycling curriculum of the Green Project, and wrote the grant that funded this project, which she calls “The MESSEUM”. “We were looking for a submission that really showed how creative reuse is an act of environmental stewardship, and how mishandled waste effects our environment. Max put a lot of thought into the prompt, and even researched native wildlife found in Lake Pontchartrain to incorporate into the mural,” said Genrich, details which landed Bernardi the MESSEUM project. The bottom section of the mural is designed to function like a giant coloring book page, where students will be able to paint the fish, dolphin, turtles and assorted sea creatures.
Bernardi was one of 20 artists who submitted proposals for the project. “As an artist, I want my work to have an impact on the next generation,” Bernardi said. “The knowledge that there is an island of plastic waste in the middle of the Pacific Ocean deeply concerns me, especially when I know how our waste is directly killing the animals who mistake plastic for food. I often feel powerless to stop it, but I felt this project could help me illustrate how our waste has an impact on the wildlife around us.”
Bernardi is a muralist and portrait artist whose work can be seen at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Gulf Coast Bank, Breaux Mart (Magazine Street location), House of Blues Foundation, Jefferson Parish (Walkertown Bus Terminal), and on countless Carnival floats, among many other venues and locations.
The focus of the Green Project is to keep our building materials out of the waste stream. It does so by accepting donations of usable building materials, and then selling it to the public at a fraction of the cost of normal retail outlets. The Green Project’s facility is a first stop for many people renovating their homes. One of its most successful initiatives is the paint recycling program, which allows customers to purchase 1 to 5 gallons in unique, custom-blended colors.