Mariah Reading considers herself an eco-artist

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, Maine — A Maine artist combines two of her passions into one eco-friendly message.

“Usually on beaches it’s like buoys, little pieces of plastic,” said Mariah Reading.

The reading travels through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, including the sandy beach of Acadia National Park.

Reading picks up trash in open spaces and transforms it into painted landscapes.

She describes it as her canvas.

“Plastic water bottles, rope is always a big thing. But I also found shoes and pajama pants draped over the side of trees like, where did they come from?” said Reading.

It’s all part of what Reading calls her eco-art, often painting the very spot where she picked up a particular piece of trash.

“I call the painting that I do outdoors plein air, I call them color studies. Because I’m just trying to capture the colors that I see around me,” Reading says.

Although her eco-art may be more light-hearted, Reading considers herself a serious artist with an even more serious message.

Although she enjoys picking up litter, she says it only illustrates the environmental challenges facing the planet.

“Eco-art is this new form of art that addresses the Anthropocene that we live in and kind of uses art as a tool to show climate change and pollution,” she said.

Since the beginning of this project, Reading has traveled the country, walking dozens of beaches and searching hundreds of kilometers of forest.

Her efforts caught the attention of People Magazine, which featured her work on two pages in December 2021.

Reading said: “I was just blown away. I had no idea it was going to be so important and responsible. It was really, really exciting.”

Exciting, she says, not only because more people will see her art, but more people could stop and think about the meaning behind it.

“I hope that when people see my art, they will be excited to take small steps in their own lives to become more sustainable and can see their habits reflected either in the plastic water bottle or in the place where it was found.”

Reading says his favorite way to present his work is to photograph the painted piece of trash in front of the landscape it depicts.

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