Artist Mary Ellen Croteau: Bottlecaps as Art and Environmental Warning

What to do with all the plastic waste we create? It is made from petroleum. It doesn’t compost or decompose. And what little is recycled creates its own pollution. Chicago artist and environmental activist Mary Ellen Croteau (1950-2019) made art with this waste.

She made portraits and self portraits, implicating us all -- friends, family, herself -- with the environmental waste but showing hope for a solution. Her layers of colored plastic were sophisticated and beautiful, with nuanced hues and sizes creating the final work. Maybe we can design a way out of this mess, she seems to say.