Student Art from Aquarium’s Regional Contest Makes Waves at National Competition

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Student Art from Aquarium’s Regional Contest Sweeps National CompetitionCoastal America launched its national student art contest to further ocean literacy. Out of more than 1,500 entries from the United States, Mexico, and Canada, twenty-five students were selected as national winners, and eight of those came from the Aquarium of the Pacific’s regional contest. Judges in the national art competition included renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, cartoonist Jim Toomey (creator of “Sherman’s Lagoon”), ocean photojournalist Brian Skerry, and artist Wyland.

This achievement in the national contest reflects the Aquarium’s emphasis on using the arts to communicate science concepts. Through innovations in educational programming, the Aquarium aims to make both the arts and science more accessible and enhance visitors’ understanding of new topics.

Coastal America is a partnership between federal, state, and local government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, corporations, and members of Coastal America’s Learning Center Network, which includes aquariums, marine science centers, and laboratories. In hosting the regional art contest, the Aquarium of the Pacific aims to engage local audiences in pressing environmental topics and to promote ocean literacy among people of all ages, especially students. Staff members in the Aquarium’s education department solicit entries from across Southern California through their connections with teachers and art education institutions such as the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

In addition to submitting art work, each entrant must also submit an essay based on one of seven ocean literacy principles. Edmund Liang, first place winner in the Aquarium’s college-level category for his poster emphasizing the issue of bycatch, wrote, “It’s not frequent that people stop to think how their daily lives affect the health of our planet. Being a common (like air), the ocean is often neglected and placed in the far corner of our minds since it belongs to no one-yet we all share it. Therefore, we don’t feel the immediate responsibility to maintain or care. Many people, unfortunately, have no idea how intrinsically linked and dependent we are on it.”

“For both the current and previous Student Ocean Art Contests, the Aquarium of the Pacific has had more winning entries than any other institution in Coastal America’s national network of learning centers. The high quality of the entries in the Aquarium’s regional contest highlights Southern California’s distinctive ocean ethic and the understanding by its youth of the importance of the ocean,” said Virginia Tippie, executive director, Coastal America.

The winning artwork was on display in Washington, D.C. during Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), including the CHOW reception dinner on June 5, the NOAA 36th Annual Fish Fry at the Department of Commerce on June 6, and then the Coastal America Student Ocean Art Contest Awards ceremony on June 7. On June 8 the exhibit moved to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History for World Ocean Day.

To view winners’ artwork, click here or visit Coastal America’s Facebook page and view the photo gallery.

First place student winners in two categories, art and photography:

  • Pradmuditha Sithumini Madigapola, Aquarium of the Pacific, “My Big Ocean”
  • Casey J. Lambries, Alaska SeaLife Center, “Whale Song”
  • Alyssa Cheung, Vancouver Aquarium, “Unknown Ocean-Life at Risk”
  • Carmen Pacheco, Aquarium of the Pacific, “The Miracle of the Ocean”
  • Annika McFarlane, Vancouver Aquarium, “Tears for a Blue Earth”
  • Ivonne Orjuela, The Florida Aquarium, “Gateway”
  • Edmund Liang, Aquarium of the Pacific, “Shrimp Bycatch”
  • Joyce Kyunghee Lee, Aquarium of the Pacific, “Overfished?”

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