Local Artist Shelia Rogers Turns Trash into Treasure - The Bend Magazine

Local Artist Shelia Rogers Turns Trash into Treasure

This Coastal Bend artist will soon create an 18-foot Christmas tree from thousands of recycled bottles and needs your help to do so.

Portrait by Lillian Reitz

Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Sheila Rogers owned a modeling agency for more than a decade before kickstarting a career in fine arts photography. She traveled the world to study with master artists before settling in Corpus Christi. When she first moved to the Coastal Bend, she spent more time beachcombing, an activity she’d always loved. But the more time she spent on the beaches, the more trash she noticed, and where most see garbage, Rogers saw free art supplies and the chance to spread a larger message.

The heart of Rogers’ mixed media-work artwork is environmental advocacy, in which she aims to expose the real and devastating effects of plastic pollution on our oceans and beaches. “Through my work, it is my intent to educate viewers about these dangers of plastic in our marine environment. I want to provoke viewers toward a reduction of single-use plastic and toward making small lifestyle changes that reduce the overall amount of plastic waste making its way into our environment. Plastic pollution is a huge problem, but by changing our habits even slightly, we can create a cleaner and more sustainable world. Each one of us will make a difference if we can only be brave enough to be mindful,” she shares in an artist statement.

From her previous exhibits at the Texas State Aquarium and Art Museum South Texas (AMST) to a plastic water bottle chandelier installation at the Corpus Christi International Airport (which now resides on campus at TAMU-CC), Rogers brings a harsh but vital truth to the surface in an inviting and colorful way.

Oceans of Plastic exhibit
Gallery view from “Oceans of Plastic” exhibited at AMST in 2014.

One of her current projects follows this same intent and comes in the form of an 18-foot, inner-lighted Christmas Tree to debut in late November in the winter-vacant Plumeria Garden at the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center. Rogers will create the piece using a collection of 3,500 empty plastic green bottles recycled by locals and the South Texas Botanical Gardens. This unique seasonal exhibit was made possible by a grant issued by the City of Corpus Christi Arts & Cultural Commission. 

“The heart of my work is environmental advocacy, seductively exposing the real and devastating effects of plastic pollution on the world’s oceans,” says Rogers. “The intent of my work is to raise awareness of this pressing consumer and environmental issue while motivating viewers toward a plastic-use reduction revolution.”

For this spectacular Christmas tree to come to life, Rogers needs your help. The artist is currently accumulating bottles and to help her complete the project, you can donate green plastic bottles with lids to the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center’s Visitor Center at  8545 S.
Staples St., 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily. You can also drop bottles off at 915 Furman Ave.