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conservation from many angles. I interviewed prominent marine researchers, conservation professionals, and artists inspired by nature about their thoughts on what would make a work of art effective in influencing public and political support for coral reef stewardship. I then used their responses to inform the design of an enormous—15 foot tall, 11 foot wide, 1,500 pound—hand-built ceramic coral reef sculptural installation titled Our Changing Seas: A coral reef story. This piece debuted at the Herbert C. Hoover Building, headquarters for the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in downtown Washington, D.C. It depicts a vibrant, healthy Indo-Pacific coral reef with an upward transition into coral bleaching and algal domination. It is now on loan down the street from its original venue in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which publishes Science magazine. Quotes from my interview participants are included in a website that accompanies the piece: SAiA: You refer to yourself as an "Artivist" (an artist-advocate) focusing on ocean advocacy. Has your work thus far sparked any changes in environmental/oceanographic policy, or if not, what specific changes in policy would you like to inspire with your work? CM: As an “Artivist,” my goal is to bring the beauty and peril of marine ecosystems above the surface and into view in hopes that viewers of my work will become inspired to change their lifestyle choices and the policies that drive them to restore and protect our Blue Planet. It’s going to take a whole lot more than inspirational artwork to solve climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, and over fishing, but creating this work is something that I can uniquely do to make a difference. My original Our Changing Seas installation in Washington, D.C. has served as a powerful teaching aid and was used by NOAA in creative ways to familiarize the U.S. Government and the public with its policies regarding coral reef protection and restoration. When the piece Most recently—this past September—I com- debuted in NOAA and DOC headquarters 2011, pleted a second piece inspired by the original, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Administrator titled Our Changing Seas: An Atlantic & Caribbe an and Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans coral reef story, which was commissioned by the and Atmosphere, spoke at the opening recepNova Southeastern University Oceanographic tion. Later that summer, the NOAA Coral Reef Center for permanent installation in the foyer Conservation Program featured Dr. Lubchenco of its Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Eco- and me in a video to spread awareness about the systems Research—a gorgeous new state-of-the- piece and highlight NOAA’s efforts to mitigate art research facility in South Florida. This new threats to reefs. Andy Winer—NOAA's Direcpiece is multi-sided and depicts a 360° transitor of Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships tion from a healthy Caribbean reef into one at the time—was featured in a separate policy that has been bleached and degraded, then back brief video and referred to my installation to again with a sense of hope for recovery. discuss the priorities of the U.S. Government regarding its efforts to protect coral reefs. I hope the idea of one small person creating such huge, intricately detailed sculptural instalI anticipate that my most recent Our Changing lations will cause viewers to realize just how Seas piece in Florida will also inspire political important coral reefs are to me and to become support for reef conservation, since the NSU curious enough to learn more about how the Oceanographic Center in which it is installed ocean is important to them. I also enjoy feeling is home to the National Coral Reef Institute like a coral, patiently and methodically con(NCRI), which was established by Congress in structing large, delicate stony structures that 1998 to assess, monitor, and restore coral reefs can change an ecosystem. I’m excited because through research and education. As one of I’ve decided to make Our Changing Seas into a series and am just now starting work on a third NOAA’s external Coral Reef Institute partners, NCRI has long supported NOAA’s mission by ceramic coral reef installation that will debut providing outstanding scientific research to at the Tang Museum in upstate New York this support federal, state, and local management spring. and conservation in providing local, regional, national, and international research products 26 SciArt in America December 2013