Gators, Glass And Gymnastics: How One Artist Recreates The Everglades And Its Challenges

Mar 20, 2017

Artist Jenna Efrein loves the Everglades. Since moving to South Florida, she's spent a lot of time exploring the ecosystem and learning about the challenges it faces. That passion -- and 10 years of gymnastics experience -- have shaped an installation of her work on display now at the Wynwood Building.

The installation "We are HERE" highlights the Everglades and its imperiled water supply. Using recycled materials, including glass from hundreds of old beer, wine and liquor bottles, Efrein created a way for visitors to experience the Everglades' beauty -- and to see some of the problems the ecosystem faces. 

A marsh rabbit Eifren created out of glass from old beer bottles.
Credit Kate Stein / WLRN

Carefully crafted marsh rabbits are trapped in the clear glass bellies of pythons. Sea turtles stagger toward the lights of a car parked inland instead of following the moonlight into the sea. Alligators -- close to life-size and made of old Hammer and Sickle vodka bottles --  are choked under blue-green algae.

"I like to use this platform to offer people the opportunity to create change," Efrein said. "It's a way for me to pass it on. Pay it forward."

She encourages visitors to sit on benches she's built, taking in the art and reflecting on the challenges the ecosystem faces.

Efrein holds a fish she created out of an old bottle.
Credit Kate Stein / WLRN

The installation is in the University of Miami gallery at the Wynwood Building, 2750 NW Third Ave., Miami. On Thursday, Efrein is hosting an educational panel at 7 p.m.  Attendees will hear from scientists and activists about issues the Everglades faces. And Efrein says she’s asked each panelist to suggest one thing audience members can do to help preserve the Everglades.

Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.