MARJAN VERSCHRAEGEN GO'S SAILING
translation of an article published in Belgium
Marjan Verschraegen – Photographer from Bastelare, Zeveneken, lives and works in Orange Beach, Alabama. Her voluntary commitment with the City of Orange Beach / Gulf Shores led her to take an interest in the ecological pollution of beaches and oceans. She was selected to sail from Tonga to Fiji as a member of eXXpedition, and study microplastics in the oceans.
Marjan studied advertising and design (St-Lucas), but always got the interest to study photography. After Six years, she got her master degree (2010). She entered al lot of competitions and projects, in which she was very successful. Her project of “The Flemish Primitives” got positive feedback from MAGNUM – photographer, Carl Dekeyzer, which was very stimulating. She traveled as a photographer to widen her view, France, USA, India, etc…
In Lochristi she was a member of the art collective “Lo-Art”. Exhibits with “Lo Art” and “Kunst omdat het moet” was followed with exhibits in “Den Bouw, Kalken”. She worked with a pinhole camera, the most primitive way to do photography, in which a box with a hole functions as a camera. Patience is the key word! In 2007 she did an artistic project with blues singer Beverly Jo Scott and visited her hometown in Alabama. (2008). She discovered a paradise like environment and enjoyed a welcoming atmosphere, people were just so sweet! She planned to go back and make a photo series on the carnival, “Mardi Gras”. (2009)
When the oil spill happened in 2010, she was devastated. The beautiful environment she experienced was hit very hard. That made her decide to do a project and make a series “Native Reflections” and “Resilient Woman of The South”. She experienced people heaving health issues and animals that were sick and dying. She related with locals and translated a lot of stories into a blog she wrote for sponsors back home in Belgium. In September 2011 she showed her series “Native Reflections” and “Resilient Woman of The South”. She had this exhibit in Den Bouw, Kalken.
During her stay along the Gulf Coast, she met singer songwriter Elaine Petty. They married four years later in Belgium and decided to move back to Alabama. While Marjan was waiting to be able to work legally, she started volunteering for “Share The Beach”, a program to protect sea turtles. She walked weekly, early in the morning, looking for sea turtle tracks. In case a nest was found everything was done to protect it! During walks she would pick up trash. After a while she got intrigued by the special pieces she found. She decided to start photographing them and work on an “Ocean Trash Bible” a work still in progress.
She was introduced to the director of Coastal Resources to talk about her project. This resulted in her present job as a supervisor/environmental officer for the City of Orange beach. She patrols the beach, educating tourists about this beautiful environment, to protect and preserve it. This gave her the opportunity to develop her artistic project in something bigger. She creates a persona “Jane Trash” after finding stranded wigs and rugs, and will try to give her an educational purpose to educate people in an imprinting humoristic way.
To stay informed and inspire herself, she applied for eXXpedition. During 2 years, 300 women will sail the world to study micro plastics in our oceans. This group of change makers includes scientists, doctors, product developers, filmmakers, artists, etc…
To do this expedition, she has to raise $6500. She started a go fund me page and sells calendars to support her trip.
The expedition: www.exxpedition.com
Her website: www.oceantrash.be