Al Gorman pulls trash, debris from Ohio’s waterfalls to make art

The mighty Ohio River sweeps more than just large trees and other natural debris in its strong southwesterly flow, much of which is deposited unceremoniously in Ohio State Park Falls.

The toys you left in the yard or the takeout container you accidentally left in Waterfront Park could end up at the waterfall, one of the world’s most unique ecologically significant sites, dating back nearly 400 million years. There is no other place like it on earth, and the cycle of life unfolds in a freshwater ecosystem on the Indiana-Kentucky border—with a disgustingly human flavor.

This is the garbage Al Gorman calls.

Gorman, 65, surveys the waterfall landscape with a keen eye for that special piece of wood, Styrofoam, plastic bottle, baby doll head or flip flop that could become part of a work of art.

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If art is in the eye of the beholder, then Gorman’s art is a poke in the eye. Comedic and tragic at the same time, his outdoor artworks are childish, whimsical and absurd at first glance, but deadly serious upon reflection.

Artist Al Gorman photographs an exhibit of lighters he found at the falls of Ohio.  July 23, 2022

His artwork is currently on display through August 13 in the From the Cabinet of Unnatural Curiosities show at the Moremen Gallery, at 710 W. Main St. On the night of the opening, he saw a line of people outside the door waiting to see his unique work.

The work consists of large hanging Styrofoam clouds and wacky mammals made from the same petroleum-based material, plus shelves filled with doll heads and collages of lighters. All the pieces were found and saved little by little from the waterfall.

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