February 5, 2012

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Photo: Deb Castellana

San Francisco, California

Inspired by Dr. Sylvia Earle and Mission Blue, artist, marine conservation biologist and ocean lover Courtney Mattison has created her own ecosystem of 18 Hope Spots, now on exhibit at the San Francisco University High School / Jackson Street Gallery in San Francisco, California. In doing so she hopes to bring the coral reef above the ocean waves where people can experience them, as well as educate and inspire others to take action to save our planet’s coral reef systems while there is still time.

Dr. Earle’s TED Prize wish in 2009 was, “I wish you would use all means at your disposal to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, Hope Spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.”

Courtney took Dr. Earle’s words to heart. “I have admired Dr. Earle’s work since my first marine biology class with instructor Rob Spivack at San Francisco University High School in 2002.  I believe that art has the unique ability to bring marine conservation issues to the surface and into our awareness. Hope Spots is a series of 18 vignettes – each a sculptural representation of one of the most vital marine ecosystems on earth as identified by Dr. Earle.”

“Each of these 18 pieces represents a Hope Spot in its most ideal form – vibrant and healthy and thriving and protected from the barrage of threats that each faces – namely climate change, overfishing, and pollution. It is my hope that by considering the essence of each of these wildly different ecosystems together in a single gallery space, Hope Spots will inspire in us a sense of wonder and a wish to conserve,” says Courtney.

The Hope Spots Exhibit is at the Jackson Street Gallery / San Francisco University High School, at 3065 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94118 until April 6, 2012.  Courtney’s own informative website is here. You can read about her recent art installation at NOAA’s Headquarters in the Department of Commerce building, as well as her current installation, “Our Changing Seas,” at the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) in Washington, D.C.

Courtney began creating her lifelike ceramic ecosystems in a quest to learn more about the creatures she was studying in marine biology. By making sculptures of them, she became intimately acquainted with their every nuance, their colors, and textures. At the same time, it was an exacting scientific study.  From crafting a sea anemone from stoneware that looks as supple as the actual creature, to working with the uncertainty of colors as they go through the firing process, Courtney designed and built the entire 18 piece exhibit in just about one month. With her scientific and artistic sides working together, Courtney hopes to “discover how art and science can inform one another and combine to catalyze a public and political movement for coral reef conservation.” We are sure that Courtney Mattison is going to be an important part of the ocean community for many years to come and we’re excited to see what her next projects will be!

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"With knowing comes caring." - Dr. Sylvia Earle