Published on: Monday, January 31, 2022 Arts & Humanities

"Paper or Plastic?" Artwork Installed in the Takoma Park Community Center

Crafted from plastic newspaper delivery bags and reused straws, a large art installation with an environmental message has been suspended from the ceiling in the Takoma Park Community Center.

The artwork by D.C. artist Jessica Beels critiques our careless consumption of disposable products which can cause serious environmental harms. Beels fused dozens of plastic newspaper delivery bags into 20 colorful flag-like grids which are connected by straightened metal clothes hangers and reused plastic straws.

“I am intrigued by the large destructive environmental impacts caused by our small decisions,” Beels said. “Newspaper bags and straws often aren’t recycled, and they can become microplastics in our oceans where they can disrupt entire ecosystems.”

The artwork was purchased by the City of Takoma Park’s Arts and Humanities Division using public art funds.

“We’re excited to add this meaningful artwork to the City’s permanent art collection,” Arts and Humanities Coordinator Brendan Smith said. “The installation illustrates the City’s commitment to public art and protecting the environment.”

The installation was previously displayed at the Takoma Park Community Center in 2019 during the Art of Evolution exhibition. It will be on display indefinitely in the atrium at the community center at 7500 Maple Avenue. The center’s operating hours are posted on the City’s website.

Beels creates sculptural work which usually addresses environmental themes. Her work has been shown at Strathmore Mansion, Black Rock Center for the Arts, and other venues. You can see more of her artwork at