The Coast News Group
Wendy Maruyama’s “Orkanyawoi” and “Sonje,” both 2014, are among pieces in “The WildLIFE Project” exhibition through Feb. 18 at the Oceanside Museum of Art. Courtesy photo

Exhibition, lecture explores impact of ivory poaching

OCEANSIDE — A combination of artwork and conservation effort, the collection from Wendy Maruyama’s The wildLIFE Project currently at Oceanside Museum of Art is inspired by poaching’s impact on wildlife.

Katie Sanderson, exhibitions manager and registrar at the museum, said Maruyama’s exhibit, “raises awareness about endangered African wildlife with her monumental installation in wood, glass and metal. Her innovative sculptural work merges activism and studio craft to arouse social change.”

She added that Maruyama is an important artist, craftswoman and furniture maker who has been living and working in San Diego for much of her career.

In conjunction with the powerful artwork, the museum will host a lecture on wildlife protection, presented by the Big Life Foundation, a nonprofit conservation group whose goal is to protect East Africa’s wildlife and wild lands.

Set for 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 10, Amy Baird, associate director of the foundation, will discuss the struggle of animals threatened by poaching and the illegal ivory trade.

Sanderson said the lecture will also, “touch on the relationship the foundation has had with Wendy and her project’s parallel purpose to promote the preservation and protection of those endangered animals.”

Baird says Maruyama has been a big supporter of the foundation’s mission — one of her elephant masks, titled “Ghost,” honors an elephant named Qumquat which was killed by poachers in 2012.

“Big Life has created a holistic and successful conservation model in East Africa to preserve some of the world’s most iconic, and threatened, species,” Baird said. “In doing so, the organization also supports the local community, and as a result, poaching in the ecosystem has dropped drastically.”

Baird said that they have seen improvement in both the elephant and lion populations in the area the organization works in.

“While these animals are not out of the woods across Africa, Big Life’s rangers demonstrate that at least in one small corner, success is possible.”

The lecture is $10 for visitors and free to members. Maruyama’s work will be displayed through March 4. Oceanside Museum of Art is located at 704 Pier View Way. Visit or

“We are thrilled to be a part of this project — we are lucky to be able to support the work of an artist who tackles challenging issues and presents artwork that expands traditional perceptions of what artistic forms and expressions might be found in an art museum,” Sanderson said.