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Sea plastic, turtle shell, library board, book cloth
4″ x 4″ x 2.5″

Twenty-five years ago, I became a United States Peace Corps Volunteer on the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean. I spent three years on the island as an art teacher working with a team of volunteers and host country nationals to develop an art education program. I returned frequently during the first 10 years after my service ended. But then, after a trip in 2005, there was 13 years between visits. During my 2005 visit while beach-combing with a friend, we discovered a green sea turtle washed up on the beach. It likely hit its head on a fishing boat. It was long gone and it was heart-breaking. Some of its shell had broken off and we gathered it up. When I returned home, I was in graduate school at that time, Hedi Kyle suggested I make a storage book with the shell fragments. Fast-forward 13 years. I walked the same beach, with the same friend. This time I was shocked by the quantity of sea plastic that I picked up, not just big pieces, but little tiny finds—as beautiful as sea glass—and just as heartbreaking as finding that turtle years ago. Did you know that some studies show it only takes 14 pieces of plastic to kill a turtle? Did you know that over 1000 turtles die every year because of plastic ingestion? Did you know that plankton and other micro-organisms hitch rides on plastic, tricking turtles into thinking it’s food, and that’s why they eat it? These three books all use the same storage book structure. One for the turtle, one for the sea plastic, one for a poem. They are housed in a multi-section slipcase, which I also learned from Hedi Kyle.

– Melanie Mowinski, Williamstown, MA

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