Indian sand artist wins People's Choice Award in US

This file photo taken on March 7, 2015, shows Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creating a sculpture of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on Puri beach in eastern Odisha state (AFP)

Renowned Indian sand artist and Padma Awardee Sudarsan Pattnaik have won the People's Choice Award at a prestigious sand sculpting festival in the US, wowing the American public with his sculpture that highlighted the message of combating plastic pollution in oceans.

Pattnaik was among the 15 top sand artists selected from across the world to participate in the 2019 Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival in Boston, Massachusetts. He won the People's Choice Award for his sand sculpture 'Stop Plastic Pollution, Save Our Ocean'.

"This is a very big award and honour for me in the US. This award is for India, which is also doing a great deal to beat plastic pollution" and raise awareness on this very important matter, Pattnaik told PTI over the phone from Boston.

The award-winning sculpture showed a turtle caught in a plastic bag and a fish with plastic trash such as slippers, bottles and glass inside its body. The tail of the fish is in the mouth of a human, signifying how plastic pollution in the oceans is adversely impacting human beings also when they consume seafood.

"Thousands of people voting for my sculpture that highlights the problem of plastic pollution underscores that the public too is concerned about our oceans getting polluted and supports the urgent need to take action to save our oceans and planet," said Pattnaik, who is known to convey social messages and themes through his art.

Amid loud cheers and applause, Pattnaik received the People's Choice medal from Revere Beach Partnership Board Member Adrienne Sacco-Maguire during an award ceremony.

The Odisha-native said that through his sculpture he wants to highlight that human activity is destroying the oceans and humans are also getting impacted by polluted waterways as they consume food from the sea and rivers.

Describing the award as “very special”, Pattnaik said, "this award is not only for me but for the people. This is a public awareness sculpture. Those who have voted for my sculpture have voted for action on plastic pollution."

Several Indians also showed up at the festival with the Indian tricolour and extended their support for Pattnaik, who expressed gratitude to the Indian Consulate General in New York and its officials for their support.

Congratulating Pattnaik on the win, India's Consul General in New York Sandeep Chakravorty said, "we are delighted that our very own Sudarsan has won the People's Choice Award at this prestigious world event."

Chakravorty thanked the Indian Community of Greater Boston area and all over the US for their support, saying the theme of Pattnaik’s sculpture ‘Stop Plastic Pollution, Save Our Ocean’ is “very topical and relevant and has resonated with the public. Yet another feather in the cap of our genius from the holy city of Jagannath Puri."

Hosted by non-profit organisation Revere Beach Partnership, the festival, now in its 16th year, ran from July 26-28 and was attended by close to a million people.

One of the largest sand sculpting festivals in the world, it sees participation from leading sand sculptors from around the world. Pattnaik was the sole representative from India and Asia. Artists from Belgium and Canada also won at the prestigious championship.

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