Artist to speak on the search for a solution to plastics pollution

Plastics on beach

The Oregon Humanities Center will present a talk about the widespread problem of plastic pollution with artist and activist Dianna Cohen on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Cohen will deliver this year’s O’Fallon Lecture in Art and American Culture at 7:30 p.m. in Room 156, Straub Hall on the UO campus. Cohen’s talk is free and open to the public and will be livestreamed.

Dianna CohenInspired by her creative work with ubiquitous plastic bags, Cohen co-founded the Plastic Pollution Coalition, a global alliance of individuals, organizations, businesses and policymakers working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic effects on humans, animals, waterways and oceans, and the environment.

In her lecture, “Plastic Pollution: Art to Action,” Cohen will speak about her 2-D and 3-D artwork, sculptures and installations. She hopes to inspire conversation and action around the issue of plastic pollution, alternatives and solutions.

At a time when sustainability is an international concern, Cohen asks people to rethink their relationship with plastic and consider the material as a valued resource instead of waste.

Cohen will be one of the 30 artists featured in the exhibit “Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials” on view at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Sept. 22 through Dec. 30. The museum will offer public events surrounding the “Plastic Entanglements” exhibit, which will include an opening reception, panel discussions and research presentations, a lecture by another featured artist, and a family day. For more information about these events go to

Cohen’s talk is the first lecture in the humanities center’s year-long theme “The Common Good,” in which speakers will examine critical topics that affect the nation, such as civil rights, the environment, economics, incarceration, law and technology.

The series will provide audiences with a variety of perspectives on how the common good has shaped — and sometimes failed to shape — our shared social, political, cultural and ethical history, how it is working or not working in today’s society, and how it might contribute to and strengthen American identity and society in the years to come.

The Colin Ruagh Thomas O’Fallon Memorial Lectureship was established by a gift from Henry and Betsy Mayer, named in memory of their nephew, a son of the late law professor James O’Fallon and his wife, artist Ellen Thomas. The subject of the lecture alternates each year between law and art and American culture. Past topics have included philosophy, jurisprudence, American political life, architecture, and art theory and criticism.

For information or disability accommodations, which must be made by Oct. 10, go to or call 541-346-3934.