PangeaSeed Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting science, education, art and activism (they call it "ARTivism)" to help protect the health of the world's oceans. Executive Director Tre’ Packard says, “No matter where you are in the world, the ocean supplies us with every second breath we take, and life on Earth cannot exist without healthy oceans.” During Miami’s recent Art Week (December 1-5, 2015), in collaboration with Urban Nation Berlin, as well as Kaaboo Artwork and Smashed Canvas, they sponsored an international mural project in Miami’s Wynwood district that highlighted the perils of climate change and other threats to the oceans.
In Miami, each of the five invited artist teams (co-curated by PangeaSeed and Urban Nation) fired up their imaginations to create a unique “Sea Wall” conveying an aspect of man’s damaging impacts and what we can do to curb them. PangeaSeed provided a set of pertinent topics to the invited artists, then “they propose an idea / design, we discuss it and then they do their magic,” wrote Enriqueta Arias, Creative Director – Latin America. She also noted that the organization is increasingly bringing women on board – “not only artists, but cultural managers, curators, producers, writers, etc.” Women made up half the artist roster of a recent project in Cozumel, Mexico.
SEPE from Poland painted “Fakes.” It ironically proposes that if we destroy the “real” natural environment, we’ll be forced to invent an artificial one. As if! While acknowledging he’s not sure that art can save the planet, he asserted, “Definitely, standing and doing nothing is not the solution.”
"Fakes" by Sepe
James Bullough from Germany and Li-Hill from Canada painted “Radioactive Cascade.” The “invisible forces” of radioactive waste and other pollutants are graphically portrayed by a woman falling into the water and dissolving. “Acidification should be important to everybody,” they said, “because it's killing our oceans, killing the reefs...” Moreover, “Climate change is the biggest problem that’s ever faced humanity,” they said. “We must think of new ways to envision the future."
James Bullough in progress
"Radioactive Cascade" by James Bullough and Li-Hill
NEVERCREW from Switzerland painted “Ablating Machine,” which critiques mankind’s aggressive exploitation of the world’s natural resources for economic purposes.
Christian Rebecchi & Pablo Togni from NeverCrew in action
"Ablating Machine" by NeverCrew
“Dispose” is the mural by ONUR and WES21 from Switzerland. They termed their mural “a billboard to advertise the inconvenient truth of our addiction to fossil fuels." Dramatically, a rubber-gloved hand reaches from the ocean and suspends a miniature tanker in the air. “Alternatives are out there,” they insist.
Onur & Wes21 painting under a cloudy sky.
"Dispose" by artists Wes21 & Onur
Detail of "Dispose"
The project’s timing capitalized on the avid crowds drawn by Miami’s multi-venue international art fair and also coincided with the Paris Climate Conference, attended by political leaders (President Obama gave an address), scientists and activists.
“There’s tons of hype around Miami right now,” said Jason Botkin from Canada, who painted “The Long Swim.” It's very exciting to paint with a purpose while we're down here in Miami, so we hope what we’ve left will raise awareness to some really important issues."
Jason Botkin in front of his mural "The Long Swim"
Braving uncharacteristically rainy weather, the invited artists and their support teams achieved their goals and were rewarded with a trip to the Everglades, a vital example of those endangered environments they and PangeaSeed strive to protect.
Regardless of your gender or location, you can submit a set of images to PangeaSeed here.
Nate Peracciny, PangeaSeed’s media producer, captured the artists’ work in Wynwood as well as their voices in a video.
UP Art Studio also used Art Week as a platform to merge art with social engagement. UAS, based in Houston, manages mural art projects and exhibitions – often with a large cast of international artists. The “Free Lolita” campaign to release the world-famous orca (killer whale) from confinement in Miami Seaquarium’s concrete swim tank to her native habitat has been ongoing for decades (Lolita has been “performing” for 45 years). With support from entertainment celebrities, Miami Beach mayor Phillip Levine (who owns the building at 2247 NW 1st Ave.) and such organizations as the PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Orca Network, 20 artists from Europe, North and South America hit the streets to create the “Big Walls, Big Dreams” mural project – delivering a cool mix of mostly aquatic themes. Armed with rollers, brushes and cans, husband and wife artists Shalak Attack and Bruno Smoky (AKA Clandestinos) led the charge with their leviathan-scaled, multi-colored, wish-fulfilling fantasy of the formerly captive whale “flying” through a fiery sky.
"Free Lolita" by Clandestinos
Lolita’s image is keeping company with other watery denizens in crabby, ‘toonish, bubbly, voluptuous, geometric and other fanciful styles. The Big Walls, Big Dreams site and FB page map the way to a diverse set of additional imagery.