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Plastic Bottled Fish, mixed media by Kira Carillo Corser. "This project is not just using the art to illustrate; it's designed to promote innovation and motivation to take action." Courtesy photo
Plastic Bottled Fish, mixed media by Kira Carillo Corser. "This project is not just using the art to illustrate; it's designed to promote innovation and motivation to take action." Courtesy photo
A Brush with Art

Fusion of Art and Science in innovative exhibition

Artists and scientists from throughout San Diego County have come together for a series of projects that ingeniously fuse the disciplines art and science.


DNA of Creativity is comprised of four separate projects involving 40 collaborating artists, scientists and educators in effort to promote new ways of viewing the world and enhance the viewer’s perception of creativity. On display at the Oceanside Museum of Art through August 4, this diverse exhibition is the culmination of a multifaceted project initiated by the San Diego Visual Arts Network in 2011.

One of the featured projects titled Sea Changes: ACT is a three-year collaborative art and science venture which encourages innovation while promoting understanding of critical issues involving the world’s oceans.

With outreach encompassing Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the Sea Changes: ACT project has stimulated discussion of climate change, acidification, sustainable fishing, and plastic pollution. According to team member Deb Wilson-Vandenburg, Senior Biologist Supervisor of CDFW, “Art can effect change in a way that we as scientists just presenting facts cannot.”

Group leader Kira Carillo Corser explains, “This project is not just using the art to illustrate; it’s designed to promote innovation and motivation to take action.” Known as an artist and educator who has affected policy and social change at a national level, Corser continues, “When combined with statistical scientific information, creative innovation does two things: it contagiously entices the public to participate and then motivates the public to build committed and inventive change.”

In describing her “Fish Tales” composite of stories featured in the exhibition, Corser asserts, “We need to speak to the human heart if we wish to support change. This record of stories of individuals about their experience with the oceans has the ultimate purpose of connecting the invisible undersea experience to us, thus enhancing our compassion towards these creatures.” Corser’s many contributions to the exhibit include a virtual underwater experience installation, video projections on silk, hand-painted collaged photographs, her “Fish Tales” video, and an ocean avatar experience.

In the exhibit, artists Debb Solan and Marjorie Pezzoli have used recycled plastics to create a floating school of jellyfish which represent the harmful impact plastic has on the ocean as it adds toxic chemicals to our food chain. Through this creative approach to portraying reality, their intention is for viewers to realize that one person can make a difference in the health of our oceans.

Glass artist Michelle Kurtis Cole’s featured artworks are particularly impactful in relation to ocean fragility and the continued loss of coral reefs. She remembers, “After many years of scuba diving I returned to my first reef dive at Montego Bay, Jamaica.  That first encounter with the vibrant world of coral was such a life changing moment that I would visit the memory often over the years.  A decade later I made a pilgrimage back to where it all began, the birth of my never-ending love affair with the ocean and all its creatures. The reef was dead.” She describes her glass sculpture “Fragile, 2014” as “a celebration of the beauty of the ocean and the bounty of its gifts with a reminder that its magnificence needs protection. This piece brings awareness to how the health of our oceans, and ultimately humankind, is determined by our daily actions.”

Tim Lueker, Ph.D., climate change scientist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, reaches the decision makers of the future through teaching the art of mosaic in local schools. He states,

“A generation ago, when my father was a young man, Jacques Cousteau invented SCUBA, and introduced humanity to the undersea world of coral reefs and the majestic and fascinating creatures that live there. We are now faced with the near certainty that in another generation or two nearly all the coral reef communities will be dead or dying due to ocean acidification. This tragedy results from our civilization making energy by burning oil and gas and releasing CO2 into the air, which then dissolved into the ocean and forms carbonic acid. It will take a huge effort by humanity to stop this unthinkable tragedy and preserve the coral reefs for our grandchildren and generations to come.”

Through a series of creatively designed installations and interactive stations, Sea Changes: ACT addresses critical issues affecting our oceans and invites viewers to learn, take action, and be part of the solution.

The DNA of Creativity exhibition will be on display at the Oceanside Museum of Art located at 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside from April 12 to August 4, 2014. The opening reception April 12, 6-8pm is free to OMA members, $10 for nonmembers.

For more information on Sea Changes: ACT visit