Local Hero: Elena Kulikova

Elena Kulikova, 34, was a true believer in the possibility of a clean earth and a plastic free world. She carried the vision that every person can learn to be sensible with their waste usage and conscious of the impact their lives have on our eco system, especially their use of plastic on our oceans. She firmly believed that if people knew the damage their actions cause to the vulnerable marine life that inhabit our beautiful planet, they will change their ways- she believed in educating, not blaming or judging.  Her favourite saying was “If you know better you’ll do better”.

Being a vegetarian for over 10 years, she had a strong belief that humans and animals are one and she always wanted to do something to help protect them. Her journey with Plastic Oceans began while on vacation in Dominican Republic in February of 2019 with her boyfriend, where while looking at the ocean and seeing plastic debris periodically appear in the waves, she teared up and decided that she must do something and take action.  She immediately began researching organizations that shared the same passion for protecting our oceans as she did, and came across Plastic Oceans – an organization that perfectly matched her vision.  Right away she spread the word about this organization via her social media channels, family & friends and being a visual artist, she also began donating a portion of the sale proceeds of her paintings to the organization.

But she always wanted to do more! So in May of 2019, she hosted a large-scale gallery exhibit, featuring her own works as well as those of 6 other fabulous artists, to both help showcase emerging artists and simultaneously raise awareness of the need to clean up our oceans and her partnership with Plastic Oceans.  Many of her paintings reflected this deep dedication, and together with her business partner Evelyn Bailey, they created an exclusive painting dedicated to Plastic Oceans (see below), prints of which were sold at the exhibit to help the cause.

Given the success of the previous Art exhibit, Elena hosted another gallery opening, once again partially in support of Plastic Oceans, where most of her original works depicted the various shades of blue – shades of the ocean! The show was a grand success- it uplifted spirits, inspired change and most importantly raised awareness for this often overlooked issue. It was miraculous to see people learn about the impact of plastic on our oceans through various educational icons throughout the gallery.

Unfortunately, this event was a short 5 days before the tragic car accident that took her young life. There are no words to describe the loss felt by everyone who knew her, loved her and cherished her. The world lost a beautiful young soul and a strong advocate for its preservation who would have continued her fight for as long as she lived on this earth.  One thing however remains true…everyone who knew Elena, will always remember her fight to rid this world of single use plastic – and thanks to her, there have been many that have already eliminated plastic from use – both to help our planet and to honour Elena. She spurred something beautiful, something long lasting and it is inevitable that her passion will forever live on, both through her paintings, and the inspiration for change that she ignited in others.

March 1985 – August 2019

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