Six giant, bright red snails have invaded Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City campus. The eye catching creatures are part of an art installation called “Foreverglades” made of recycled plastic sculptures by European artists William Sweetlove and the Cracking Art Group
The project debuted at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2012. During the art fair, the artists staged 300 of the plastic animals in a variety of species — some, including alligators, turtles, frogs, native to South Florida — at Miami-Dade College to raise awareness about environmental destruction.
HCC Ybor Art Gallery curator Carolyn Kossar saw the original installation and worked to bring a portion of it to Tampa, where the snails will remain on view through Earth Day on April 22.
The art group's name, "cracking," is based on the term for converting raw crude oil into industrial and consumer products such as plastic. The group has organized similar public art installations at the 2009 G8 summit in Italy and during the 2011 Venice Biennale.
Prior to arriving on a flatbed truck in Tampa last month, the red snails were on display in New York City at Central Park and Columbus Circle.
The point of the installation, Kossar says, is to alert people to the importance of environmental conservation by eliciting a smile or a laugh with the sculptures.
“People are happy when they see them,” Kossar says.