Sarah Tucker of Port Angeles will use a $600 grant from the Awesome Port Angeles Workshop to create a “Merpeople Picnic” sculpture out of sea debris. Tucker said one of the goals is to call attention to the amount of debris washing ashore. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Sarah Tucker of Port Angeles will use a $600 grant from the Awesome Port Angeles Workshop to create a “Merpeople Picnic” sculpture out of sea debris. Tucker said one of the goals is to call attention to the amount of debris washing ashore. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Sea debris sculpture wins Awesome Port Angeles grant

“It seemed like a fun way to educate people on what comes in on our coastline and repurpose a negative into a fun positive,” one organizer said.

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles artist will receive a $600 grant for her “awesome” idea to create a sculpture out of sea debris.

Sarah Tucker, who has made art out of sea debris before, was shocked when the Awesome Port Angeles Workshop selected her for the Awesome Port Angeles grant.

Using ropes and other debris that have washed ashore, Tucker will create a “Merpeople Picnic” that will be displayed throughout town.

What makes it unique, she said, is that her sea-debris pieces start conversations about what washes ashore and the effort to clean up the mess.

“Sometimes with art, people just want to criticize it or see how much the artist wants for it,” she said. “With this, everyone talks about it.”

She’ll be incorporating a merperson she’s already created into the piece. That merperson has been on display at the Port Angeles Library in the past.

Tucker plans to add another adult-sized gender-neutral merperson and a child-sized merperson to create the picnic.

She gets the bulk of her material from Washington CoastSavers, a group that cleans Washington’s coasts of debris, which Tucker happily accepts.

She’s been using debris as an artistic medium for a while now, and for the past three years, her front yard has been filled with it.

She had made a dragon out of recycled materials for the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts one year but was then approached by the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to create sea-debris art.

Once she saw the material, colors and textures, she was hooked.

While the bulk of her artistic medium is free, it’s the grant money that will bring it all together, Tucker said.

The $600 will help her buy supplies to actually put the piece together and to give it a solid foundation.

“If I do it right, it will be able to fit into a Subaru,” she said.

That will make it easier to put on display around town.

Tucker was selected for the grant by a board of 16 Awesome Port Angeles Workshop trustees.

The “Merpeople Picnic” was one of 15 awesome ideas the board members had to pick from, said Iris Sutcliffe, who created the grant.

Sutcliffe started a GoFundMe page to fund the grant, and anyone who contributed more than $25 became a trustee. Because everyone who donated contributed more than $25, all 16 donors became trustees.

The only requirements for applicants was to have an idea that benefited Port Angeles in some way.

“We had 15 really great applications and we didn’t give people a ton of time to apply,” Sutcliffe said. “You could really define what awesome means to you.”

During the first round of voting, all of the applicants were anonymous. Trustees were allowed to pick two.

Once the list was narrowed down to two, trustees — who then knew who the applicants were — selected Tucker’s project.

“It seemed like a fun way to educate people on what comes in on our coastline and repurpose a negative into a fun positive,” Sutcliffe said.

“Sarah has a great reputation around town for bringing fun things to life.”

Sutcliffe said Tucker will have two months upon receiving the money to bring her creation to life.

Sutcliffe didn’t want to reveal the other 14 ideas people had, saying the goal is to provide a grant three or four times a year.

“There’s a lot of creativity in this community,” she said. “We knew that anyways, but this really brought that home.”

To keep up-to-date on the project, look for updates on awesomeportangeles.com or on the group’s Facebook page.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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