Her Southold studio, located at the boatyard at Port of Egypt Marine, is filled with containers of discarded lighters, balloons, straws, fishing tags and anything else that appears to no longer serve any purpose. Most of the items were found in beach cleanups on Long Island.
For Ms. Roe, the garbage can be used to make sculptures of anything from mermaids to manta rays. Through her organization, UpSculpt, she has been dedicated to raising awareness about marine debris through art for over 10 years.
Little did the person who discarded their soda bottle long ago realize that their trash would be used in one of Ms. Roe’s many sculptures which will be displayed at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum as part of “Plankton Not Plastic,” an exhibition that opens on Friday, July 26.
The idea of turning garbage into art all started when Ms. Roe, who is also a painter, came across an abundance of plastic debris on the North Fork. She said that the experience changed the course of her work and her life. Before that, she had never put much effort into sculpting before.
“I think some people would be shocked to find out that what they threw out actually ended up in the ocean,” Ms. Roe said. “That’s pretty shocking. And then it ended up on a beach in Long Island some place.”
Garbage and litter, according to Ms. Roe, can travel up to 100 miles, and on Long Island, which is just 23 miles at its widest, there’s a good chance it will end up in the ocean, sound or bay.
“We are an island,” Ms. Roe said. “Anything that’s falling out of your car, any of this litter or garbage around here, has the ability to make its way into the ocean. We have to wake up.”