If you were to ask up-and-coming creators where they would like their art displayed in New York City, a good number of them would mention the Van Der Plas Gallery. Located in the heart of the Lower East Side, the gallery has played host to promising artists who not only offer visually stunning creations, but whose creations galvanize a high-level discussion about issues impacting our world.
On December 10, 2019, the Van Der Plas Gallery hosted a photo exhibition on the long-term effects of plastic pollution. Called “The 2084,” the photo exhibition sparked a visceral reaction among the hundreds of guests in attendance. While the photo exhibition turned heads in and of itself, what may be more surprising is the gifted creator behind the awe-provoking project.
Her name is Ria Serebryakova and she is a well-known fashion model who has walked runways in Paris, Milan, and more. Ultimately, Serebryakova’s photo exhibition shows not only her talent as an artist, but her passion and dedication to galvanizing action in order to solve a pressing global issue.
“The 2084”: Telling Our Story
As Ria Serebryakova states on the photo exhibition’s about page, plastic tells our story—both the good and the bad. In terms of the good, plastic has created a significantly better standard of living for all of us. To put it simply, we are all richer and more comfortable than if plastic didn’t exist in our world.
But having said this, as she makes clear throughout the photo exhibition, the issue of plastic pollution is one that we cannot ignore. Yes, it is easy to ignore because plastic pollution is a collective action problem. In all likelihood, the efforts of just one or several of us aren’t going to make a dent in the long-term problem. But it is this attitude of “I can’t make a difference anyway” that causes all of us to stand pat and do nothing to address the problem.
Ria Serebryakova intuitively understands this. She designed “The 2084” to galvanize discussion and spark an emotional reaction in the minds of viewers. In effect, she wanted to help viewers fight through their inertia and contemplate ways that they could help address the problem of plastic pollution. Whether it was displaying a photograph of her nearly drowning in a sea of plastic or displaying large amounts of discarded plastic in nature, she made the problem feel urgent for the viewers in attendance. Even though one photo exhibition alone won’t completely solve the problem, she certainly did her part to convince attendees to take action.
Success On and Off the Runway
Even though Ria Serebryakova is not a full-time artist, her photo exhibition was a masterclass in using art to convey an important social message. In terms of her day job, Serebryakova is a well-known fashion model who has represented prominent brands including Dolce & Gabbana, L’Oreal, Forever 21, Ray-Ban, and Tory Burch. She had her big break by walking the runway for Miu Miu during Paris Fashion Week. From there, she moved from Russia to New York City, where she continues to work with renowned brands within the fashion industry.
Along with her near 300,000 followers on Instagram, Serebryakova has been profiled by some of the most well-respected publications in the media world. For example, she has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Harper’s Bazaar. In her Harper’s Bazaar shoot, for instance, Serebryakova appeared along with two stars from the globally-renowned Netflix show Stranger Things.
With a busy career in the fashion industry, it is even more impressive that Serebryakova took the time to create “The 2084.” She is cognizant of the profile she has both on and off the runway. Instead of using that profile in a negative or destructive way, she decided to put her time and effort into a cause that she holds dear.
Turning the Tide
While it is unclear whether Serebryakova will continue to create additional photo exhibitions, “The 2084” shows that she has some serious talent. Not only does she have an eye for the aesthetic nature of art, but she connects that eye with activism.
Plastic pollution, unless we take drastic action today, will only get worse. Even though plastic is the story of us, we can shift that story. “The 2084” is one such catalyst that can make the future brighter and more optimistic.