From a distance, Andrea Mihalyffy’s chimes look like ethereal sea creatures, dried jellyfish plucked from the surf and strung from a cluster of vine wreathes.
They blend into the landscape at Marie Selby Bontanical Gardens, where for nearly a month they’ve hung from the branch of an old oak tree that resembles a giraffe, piquing the curiosity of gardens visitors.
It isn’t until you get up close to the tree that you see that the chimes are, in fact, plastic water bottles hanging from fishing line.
“I wanted them to be transparent,” Mihalyffy says of her first eco-friendly art installation. “Like something that’s right in front of our eyes, but we don’t ever see it’s there.”
She is, of course, referring to the mass consumption of plastic water bottles. Industry studies suggest that only 12% of small water bottles get recycled.
This is the crux of Mihalyffy’s “waste chimes” installation, which she created last month for Selby’s Plant and Garden Festival.
To ensure she’d have enough bottles to create the project, she asked the manager at the Publix near her downtown Sarasota home to pick through the store’s recycling bin.
She asked friends to save their bottles, and she even pulled from Selby’s trash bins.
Mihalyffy, who doesn’t drink bottled water, collected more than 160 bottles to create her chimes.
“Most eco-art has a message,” Mihalyffy says. “I’m just one part of an environmental movement that has been around for a long, long time.”
The Hungarian-born Mihalyffy, 43, moved to Sarasota in 1996 to study English.
A costume designer by trade, she teamed up with architect Carl Abbott for last spring’s Iconcept fashion show at Art Center Sarasota. The duo’s industrial-inspired, full-length dress, “Wave,” was constructed from a sheet of reflective Mylar, cellophane and hemp.
In October, she collaborated with Sarasota choreographer Keren Shani-Lifrak to design provocative costumes for a Butoh dance number performed at the Ringling International Arts Festival.
The mother of a 3-year-old, she says it’s hard to get into a creative groove with a toddler constantly tugging at her hip, but with each project she completes, a new and unusual opportunity seems to arise.
“I can’t wait until my son can participate,” she says. “Right now, all he wants to do is touch and tug on things.”
The same can be said for patrons of Selby Gardens, who during the Plant and Garden Festival couldn’t seem to get enough of Mihalyffy’s surprisingly captivating waste chimes.
“People kept asking if they could buy them,” Mihalyffy says. “I told them no, they’re not for sale, but then I started thinking they would make nice garden-party displays. Maybe next time I’ll put seeds inside the bottles so they make noise in the wind.”
IF YOU GO
Selby Gardens’ Asian Cultural Festival runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 19 and March 20.
See Andrea Mihalyffy’s costumes in action as choreographer Keren Shani-Lifrak’s Butoh dance troupe performs “Sprout” –– the same eerie dance number performed at last year’s Ringling International Arts Festival.
For more information, call 366-5731 or visit www.selby.org.
Contact Heidi Kurpiela at [email protected]
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