Al Gorman pulls trash, debris from Falls of the Ohio to make artwork

The mighty Ohio River sweeps up more than just large trees and other natural debris in its strong southwesterly-flowing current, much of which gets unceremoniously deposited at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Those kid’s toys you left in the yard, or the take-out container you accidentally left at Waterfront Park may find its way to the Falls, one of the most unique ecologically significant places in the world, dating back nearly 400 million years. There is no other place like it on earth, and the cycle of life plays out in a freshwater ecosystem on the border of Indiana and Kentucky — with a trashy human twist.

It’s the trash that calls to Al Gorman.

Gorman, 65, surveys the landscape at the Falls, with a keen eye for that special piece of driftwood, Styrofoam, a plastic bottle, a baby doll’s head, or a flip flop that might 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 found-art pieces are childlike, whimsical and absurd at first glance, but deadly serious upon reflection.

Artist Al Gorman photographs a display of cigarette lighters he's found at the Falls of the Ohio.  July 23, 2022

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

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

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