Federico Uribe: Plastic Reef

Extended to February 26, 2023

With a deceptively playful visual style and unexpected materials, Federico Uribe communicates a real and present environmental threat in Plastic Reef.

Federico Uribe’s Plastic Reef reminds us of the fragility of life and invites us to reflect on the indiscriminate use of plastic and its disastrous impact. According to the UN Environment Programme, more than ten million metric tons of plastic enters our oceans every year, and it persists in the environment for centuries. Our plastic waste is endangering all of the world’s oceans and ecosystems, including life-sustaining coral reefs.

From a distance, Plastic Reef appears to be a colorful and beautiful underwater world filled with corals, mussels, and schools of fish. Up close, you discover it is, in fact, thousands of pieces of upcycled plastic that are carefully cut and whimsically arranged. Weaving together these discarded plastic bottles, caps, cutlery, flip flops, and more in curious and unpredictable ways, Uribe presents his vision of a coral reef and its interdependent life forms.

Twenty-five years ago, Uribe abandoned paint brushes and canvases in favor of everyday household objects and embarked on a unique body of work that has been collected and exhibited by multiple museums around the world. He first created Plastic Reef as a special display at the 2019 Venice Biennale, and he personally adapted it for this location at the Museum. Born in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1962, Uribe is currently based in Miami, Florida, and says, “Living in a coastal city has made me very conscious and sensitive about the need to conserve marine environments and ecosystems. Plastic production is increasingly inexorable, particularly in the developing world.”


Exhibitions are made possible by assistance provided by the County of Westchester.


Plastic Reef may prompt you to wonder what changes you could make to your daily routine to reduce plastic waste. Learn what you can do to help.

Federico Uribe (Colombian, b. 1962). Plastic Reef, 2019. Plastic. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Roz Akin.

Selected Press

Best Bets: Plastic Perfection Westchester Magazine (July 2022) ↗
Artist to Artist: Plastic Reef ArtsNews (September 30, 2022) ↗