The Air We Breathe is a collection of abstract paintings and sculptures referencing seagrass meadows’ ability to produce oxygen. In this exhibition, I explore the interdependence of humans and living organisms in our coastal environment. Through my artwork I hope to help visitors understand the immeasurable importance of our ocean’s ecosystems, and be inspired to work for positive change in the environment.
This exhibition is on view at Beacon Gallery, 524b Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118. The galley is open Thursdays- Sundays 12-5pm. Check out upcoming events below!
I depict these stories in paintings such as Inlet I-IV and 4.7 Billion to 30 Billion in order to illustrate the power of community to effect positive change. In order to sustain our well-being, we need to remember that humanity has always survived through community and environmental reciprocity. Similarly, the ocean is a locus of collective benefit and reciprocal relationships. This exhibition focuses in particular on the importance of the exchange of carbon and oxygen within the ocean’s vegetation.
Here in this above image of Inlet, I depict the ebs and flows of tidal shifts on Seagrass in inlets. In this multi-paneled painting I wanted to capture the ever-changing nature of inlets, and how they are shaped and reshaped by nature. They attempt to parallel the feeling of “constant change” wrought by the ocean and weather. This change can be seen for example in Sebastian Inlet, in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. Here a rich diversity of seagrass species can be found including manatee grass, paddle grass, shoal grass, Johnson’s seagrass, star seagrass, widgeon grass and turtle grass. However, seagrass ebbed to its lowest numbers in 2012, when about 60 percent of the estuary’s seagrass died off due to algal blooms.
With continued monitoring and marine protection from Atkins North America, seagrass meadows are growing in 2021. Atkins required a mitigation strategy to protect sensitive seagrass habitats for boaters using Sebastian Inlet. The result has been a steady increase in seagrass, currently at eight square acres in the past decade. This shows the importance of protecting and monitoring this sensitive habitat, as it’s much faster to destroy than to rebuild.
In fact, the ocean has fostered all life on Earth, from the creation of living creatures to the composition of our very atmosphere. The ocean’s plankton, vegetation, and bacteria are some of the most prolific and abundant photosynthesizing organisms on the planet, producing 50% of the Earth’s oxygen. However humans often take the benefits of both clean air and the biodiversity of oceans for granted.
Tropical rainforests are often called the “lungs of the Earth.” Similarly seagrass is known as the “lungs of the sea.” Such a title shows how important this plant is to our planet, both as a producer of oxygen and for carbon storage. Seagrasses store more than twice as much carbon dioxide per square mile as forests. This ‘reverse’ respiration (taking in carbon dioxide and letting out oxygen) produces the vital gas supporting the respiration of creatures and humans alike, while also removing one exponentially growing byproducts of the industrial and post-industrial era.
Almost One Third depicts how 29% of seagrass meadows have disappeared globally. It questions how we perceive our connection to the natural environment, showcasing these emotions through muted violet grays to evoke the nostalgia of the once flourishing seagrass. The composition emulates the fluidity of water, and intentionally has no focal point: lines weave in and out of surfaces, and the barely discernible numbers 2 and 9 undulate. These numbers are woven into the abstract image to activate the viewer’s eye and invite questions of what one is seeing or imagining.
The Air We Breathe at Beacon Gallery
November 3, 2022- January 8th, 2023
Thursday, Dec. 1st | 6 pm: Seagrass and Community Building through Art and Environmental Activism
What happens when you invite marine ecologists, non-profits, artists, and activists to all get together: A whole lot of fun! Join us for our informal chat about the importance of our oceans.
Find out how seagrass diversity affects marine ecology with Randall Hughes. Or how seagrass beds are doing over the last decade in Duxbury, Kingston, and Plymouth with Sara Grady. Samantha Woods will highlight the joy involved in rolling our sleeves up to preserve our natural habitats.
Maybe you get some cool ideas about what an amazing habitat seagrass is, or you gather a few ideas of your own to spread awareness, or you just marvel at the mysteries of cellular level plant life:)
We are honored to feature guest speaker Samantha Woods, Executive Director of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, Sara Grady, Ecologist at Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership and North and South Rivers Watershed Association, and Dr. Randall Hughes, Professor in the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES) and Associate Dean for Equity at Northeastern University. Each guest will bring with them
Sunday, Dec. 11th | SOWA Winter Festival
11 am Become Seagrass; Bubbles MakerSpace
If you have ever wondered how it feels to be “like seagrass”, making oxygen bubbles, join us for making wire sculptures in the installation room
2 pm Talk & Gallery Tour with the Artist
Learn why I love seagrass and how I got fascinated by these tiny microorganisms called Prochlorococcus.
2:30-3:30 pm: “Catch and Release” Live Performance and Improv with Shelly B. Phillips
Ms. Philips will create opportunities for interactive performance and improvisational “Catch and Release” activities exploring the wonders of seagrass.
Shelly Philips is a contemporary multi-media and performance artist, and wellness provider creating space for exploring life, through research - creativity, considerations and conversations and the art of being alive in it.
First Fridays, Dec. 2nd & January 6th | 5-8 pm