Community is not an inapt word for a group of environmentally-committed artists working together as Gulf of Maine EcoArts. Community describes a larger circle of organizations and individuals whose contributions are helping to realize EcoArts’ vision. And community—writ large, as in “the world’s human community”—is both the source of and the solution to the peril that EcoArts is seeking to illuminate in a new exhibit.
That exhibit, entitled SeaChange: Darkness & Light in the Gulf of Maine, will be an immersive installation spotlighting both Cashes Ledge, an extraordinary underwater mountain range in the Gulf of Maine, and the national 30 x 30 campaign to protect thirty percent of all land and water by the year 2030.
In accordance with a mission that informs art with science, science with art, to promote stewardship and activism for worthy environmental causes, Gulf of Maine EcoArts has partnered with Maine Maritime Museum in Bath to create a year-long art and natural science exhibition that will open in early 2023. In fall 2021, EcoArts installed its current exhibit, Majestic Fragility, a large-scale sculpture installation, featuring a 24-foot right whale and other undersea life at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay. This exhibit was the culmination of a three-year project focused on threatened marine life in the Gulf of Maine, which is warming faster than most of the world’s oceans. Inspired by the natural world under the waves, a group of seven artists, Bigelow scientists, and sixteen schools worked together to create a scene of the normally unseen.
Now for EcoArts’ second exhibit: SeaChange: Darkness & Light in the Gulf of Maine; this project involves a creative team of environmental artists who are collaborating with Maine Maritime Museum, Conservation Law Foundation, Bigelow Lab, National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry, interns from Maine College of Art & Design, Colby College, St. Joseph’s College, and Maryland Institute College of Art, among others. In late 2022 the whale and other sculpture will move from East Boothbay to Bath where they will unite with other wildlife and new components of the next exhibit. Designed as an “immersive experience,” the latest installation will take visitors under as well as over the waves from the pre-colonial era to the challenging present, then beyond to the ocean wonder known as Cashes Ledge, a mountain lying just under the surface of the sea more than 80 miles off the coast of Portland. Sheltering a treasure trove of marine life, Cashes Ledge has been called by renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle “The Yellowstone of the North Atlantic.”
The goal of this exhibit is to give visitors not only an increased understanding of the current situation in the Gulf of Maine and ocean waters around the world but also hope, enthusiasm, and initiative. Life under the waves of the Gulf of Maine is our “common wealth.” To become better and truer stewards of it is our common concern. It demands of each of us that we find a common unity.
Image at top: Cyanotype—Sun Print workshop: EcoArts and Bigelow Lab, June 2022.