Celebrate the Fragile Beauty of Endangered Coral Reef Ecosystems
December 8, 2017 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Artist and ocean advocate Courtney Mattison creates large scale ceramic installations and sculptures inspired by science and marine biology. Her intricate hand-crafted porcelain works celebrate the fragile beauty of endangered coral reef ecosystems and promote awareness to conserve and protect our natural world.
The Denver-based artist studied marine ecology and ceramics at Skidmore College and received a Master of Arts degree in environmental studies from Brown University. You can see more of Mattison’s finished and in-progress installations on her Instagram and her personal website

At its heart, this piece celebrates my favorite aesthetic aspects of a healthy coral reef surrounded by the sterile white skeletons of bleached corals swirling like the rotating winds of a cyclone. There is still time for corals to recover even from the point of bleaching if we act quickly to decrease the threats we impose. Perhaps if my work can influence viewers to appreciate the fragile beauty of our endangered coral reef ecosystems, we will act more wholeheartedly to help them recover and even thrive.

See her installation process on her Vimeo page.

Links directly to individual projects:
- Our Changing Seas original, II, III a series of large-scale ceramic coral reef sculptures by artist Courtney Mattison. The sprawling installations are entirely hand-built and are meant to show the devastating transition coral reefs endure when faced with climate change, a process called bleaching.

-Aqueduct - What if climate change causes tropical sea creatures to migrate towards the poles and invade terrestrial spaces as seawater warms and sea levels rise? “Aqueduct” explores these questions with hundreds of porcelain corals, anemones, sponges and other marine invertebrates spilling into the gallery from a hand-carved porcelain air duct register.

-Fossil Fuels - This series playfully explores ominous connections between greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, ocean acidification and coral bleaching.

-Hope Spots - is a series of sculptural vignettes – each an idealized representation of one of the most vital marine ecosystems on Earth as identified by Dr. Sylvia Earle. I have admired Dr. Earle’s work since my first high school marine biology class. As an artist with a background in marine conservation biology, I believe that art has the unique ability to translate scientific concepts, bring environmental issues to the surface and inspire conservation.
As her 2009 TED Prize wish, Dr. Sylvia Earle – National Geographic Explorer in Residence and Time Magazine’s first “Hero for the Planet” – stated, “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."
I have admired Dr. Earle’s work since my first high school marine biology class. As an artist with a background in marine conservation biology, I believe that art has the unique ability to translate scientific concepts, bring environmental issues to the surface and inspire conservation.
 
posted by infinite intimation (5 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Absolutely gorgeous work. Thank you.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:59 AM on December 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


What she just said.
posted by Melismata at 8:33 AM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


I went to college with Courtney! Her senior thesis was a show of these sculptures with written pieces about marine conservation, and her work has only gotten more amazing since then.
posted by pemberkins at 12:49 PM on December 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


I feel that I should mention http://crochetcoralreef.org/ as well here. It's a traveling installation and localities make their own coral reefs as well while the installation is there.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:50 AM on December 9, 2017 [3 favorites]


Beautiful and thoughtful. Thankyou.
posted by harriet vane at 3:28 AM on December 11, 2017


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