Ocean Stories Exhibit

2013 – Museum of Science, Boston
2014 – New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks!
Ocean Stories is available for touring.

Photo Gallery

Ocean Stories is a body of artwork inspired by research conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). This exhibit was on display at the Museum of Science, February to June 2013.

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The entrance to the Ocean Stories exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston.
Bryan McFarlane and his painting in progress. Bryan's work is inspired by Jill McDermott's exploration of deep sea geysers known as hydrothermal vents. (Photo: Amanda Kowalski)
Oceanographer, Jill McDermott standing in front of the Alvin submarine sphere. This tiny sphere takes three people to the depths of the ocean! Deep sea exploration served as inspiration for McFarlane's oil paintings. (Photo: Santiago Herrera)
Tubeworms and mussels living near a hydrothermal vent. Ellie Bors's research on the genetic relationships between such organisms found throughout the deep sea served as inspiration for paintings by Laurie Kaplowitz. (Photo: WHOI)
Anastasia Azure weaving her sculpture, Within, the ways of water, with a traditional floor loom using hand-dyed fishing line. Photo by Amanda Kowalski.
Larry Pratt is photographer as well as an oceanographer: http://www.larrypratt.com/ Larry and Anastasia Azure capture the essential motion of eddies through time-lapse photography of moving lights. Photo by Amanda Kowalski.
The ocean surface is filled with eddies that can spin clockwise or counterclockwise, and that have currents that turn over on themselves, carrying water up and down in spirals. Some of the spiraling paths form a doughnut shaped surface (blue) and others form a surface that resembles a twisted hula hoop (green). Each is an example of a torus and one can be imbedded within the other. In other parts of the flow, the tiny bits of water trace irregular and unpredictable paths (red paths). These trajectories are chaotic. (Pratt et al. 2012)
"Within, the ways of water" by Anastasia Azure in collaboration with oceanographer, Larry Pratt.
Samples of deep-sea invertebrates from research sites around the globe. The study of these specimens served as inspiration for paintings by Laurie Kaplowitz. (Photo: Amanda Kowalski)
Laurie Kaplowitz painting in her studio. (Photo: Amanda Kowalski)
Laurie Kaplowitz used words and sketches from Ellie Bors's notebook as elements in her paintings. These are images of PCR gels which are used to study the DNA of organisms. (Photo: Amanda Kowalski)
Laurie Kaplowitz used words, numbers, and sketches from Ellie Bors's notebook as elements in her paintings. (Photo by Amanda Kowalski)
The Cape Cod shoreline where Shawn Towne and Tristan Kading recorded underwater video as inspiration for Shawn’s artwork. (Photo by Amanda Kowalski)
A screenshot from the video footage that inspired Shawn Towne's video installation. (Photo: Shawn Towne)
Screen shot from Shawn Towne's 15 minute abstract video art. This video draws the viewer into the environment of eelgrass beds. Shawn was inspired by how the gently moving blades of grass filtered the sunlight passing through the seawater.
Nathalie Miebach's intricate sculpture actually "plots" real data from the Gulf of Maine on an entirely different kind of grid. She trades in graph paper in favor of a hand woven grid system that takes on the form of an amusement park. Every detail has meaning. Every component is data-driven. The result is a sculpture that presents data in an entirely new format and captures the seemingly chaotic yet orderly nature of natural systems. (Photo by Johanna Wolfson)
Jon Fincke in the lab testing instrumentation on a robot in a tank of seawater. Robots are used for gathering data about which organisms live where in the Gulf of Maine and in what abundance. These data were then "re-plotted" by Nathalie Miebach to create her sculpture, "To Hear an Ocean in a Whisper."
An example of the sonar data on which Nathalie Miebach based her sculpture. The multicolored portion of this echogram indicates where where a patch of krill is present. The blue and black line indicates where a net collected krill to confirm the presence of krill at those depths. (Photo by Amanda Kowalski)
Karen Ristuben and Sophie Chu discuss the egg sculptures that showcase the effect of ocean acidification on shelled organisms. (Photo: Amanda Kowalski)
As fossil fuel emissions acidify the ocean, one especially vulnerable organism is the pteropod, commonly knownas “sea butterfly” for its elegant wing-like tissue. Photo by Amy Maas, WHOI
Sophie Chu and adviser, Alec Wang, cocking bottles for collecting water samples that will help them better understand the chemistry of the seawater in which the pteropods live and the effects of ocean acidification in particular. Photo by Peter H Wiebe
Janine Wong created an artist's book in collaboration with oceanographers, Liz Halliday and Sophie Clayton, that tells the story of a phytoplankton bloom cycle using lithographic prints based on microscope images of phytoplankton. these are intermixed with poetry that describes the bloom cycle. The poetry is layered with equations that mathematically describe the bloom cycle.This book is bound as three chapters in an accordion arrangement, one for each stage of the bloom. Photo by Janine Wong.
Phytoplankton bloom off the southern coast of the United Kingdom as seen from space. (Satellite Image: Andrew Wilson and Steve Groom)
Different kinds of phytoplankton collected from the Ross Sea, Antarctica, as seen under a microscope. (Photo by Dr. Rebecca Gast)
Copper plate on which Janine Wong etched drawings of the delicate phytoplankton bodies. (photo by Amanda Kowalski)
Coral samples and artistic mockups exploring the changing coral reef ecosystems that are stressed by human impacts. (Photo by Amanda Kowalski).
Katie Shamberger (left), Pat Lohmann, and Sean Kilgallin deploying a automatic water sampling instrument on a coral reef in Palau. The instrument collected water samples every 2 hours for 4 consecutive days on multiple coral reefs in Palau. Katie analyzed the water samples later in the lab at WHOI in order to calculate pH and CO2 levels in seawater. The goal is to better understand how coral reefs will be affected by changing seawater chemistry due to ocean acidification. (Photo: Hannah Barkley)
WHOI postdoctoral researcher Katie Shamberger makes adjustments to VINDTA (Versatile INstrument for the Determination of Total inorganic carbon and titration Alkalinity) in the lab of associate scientist Dan McCorkle. By making fine measurements of those two parameters (dissolved inorganic carbon and alkalinity), the instrument allows Katie to precisely calculate seawater pH and CO2 levels in seawater. These measurements help scientists better understand chemical changes in the ocean due to ocean acidification and the consequences for coral reefs and calcifying organisms. (Photo by Thomas N. Kleindinst)

Meet the artist and scientists

Ocean Stories is a body of artwork inspired by research conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). This exhibit was on display at the Museum of Science, February to June 2013.

Check out the videos below to learn about the artists and scientists who collaborated to create these works or art.

Sacred Intersections

Ellie Bors studies deep-sea life.
Laurie Kaplowitz creates mixed-media drawings and paintings.

Immensity in Minuteness

Jill McDermott is an MIT/WHOI graduate student who studies seafloor hydrothermal vents.
Bryan McFarlane is an artist who works on large-scale oil paintings.

From Bloom to Book

Sophie Clayton studies how ocean currents shape phytoplankton communities.
Elizabeth Halliday recently earned a Ph.D. in biological oceanography.
Janine Wong is an architect, graphic designer, and book artist.

Shaping Sound

Jonathan Fincke uses sound to investigate plankton in ocean.
Nathalie Miebach creates sculptures based on scientific data.
Mark McNulty, a sound artist, creates sound pieces based on scientific data.

Light and Life

Tristan Kading studies links between oceans and volcanoes.
Shawn Towne is a digital media artist who uses sound, light, and video.

Distant Worlds, Immediate Concerns

Katie Shamberger, Hannah Barkley, and Alice Alpert study climate change’s impacts on coral reefs.
Joseph Ingoldsby creates visual works of arts that focus on “the mosaic of landscapes.”

Weaving Water

Larry Pratt, a physical oceanographer, uses chaos theory to investigate the fluid dynamics of eddies.
Anastasia Azure
combines weaving and metalsmithing to make jewelry and sculpture.

Cumulative Hope

Sophie Chu studies ocean acidification and its impacts on marine life.
Karen Ristuben
creates multimedia artworks to expand efforts of scientists working on issues of ocean contamination and public health.