About Us

(Re)connecting communities to our ocean through ARTivism

Our Mission

 

Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans is PangeaSeed Foundation’s groundbreaking ARTivism program that brings the message of ocean conservation into streets around the world.

A perfect synergy of art and activism, ARTivism is designed to educate and raise public awareness of critical environmental issues by means of art.

The goal of the Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans program is to foster emotional connections to and drive positive action for our ocean by

  • creating environmental, educational, public artworks placed to maximize community engagement and awareness-raising,
  • providing a multidisciplinary platform engaging community members in conversations about ocean issues and stewardship and
  • growing an inclusive, global community of concerned creatives inspired to utilize their talent to advocate for worldly matters.

To date, Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans has been the most powerful tool for the realization of PangeaSeed Foundation‘s mandate. With the help from our growing community of supporting ARTivists, we continue to bring attention to the global plight of our oceans through ARTivism and are fostering a new breed of conservation through community engagement and empowerment.

 

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Our Approach

Whether hosting a Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans project in a quaint coastal town in New Zealand, a metropolis like Toronto or an outpost on the edge of the Arctic circle, our fundamental approach to these activations remains constant.

Local First

First and foremost, we establish a connection with the community. Before a brush touches a wall, we build meaningful relationships with local stakeholders such as schools, governments, conservation organizations, and community organizers to define local priorities. This process helps us develop a curatorial framework that will touch hearts and move communities into action.

Communication

We work closely with our artists to ensure the art speaks to pressing issues facing our oceans. In the lead-up to a project, we work closely with our artists to exchange ideas and information that equip them to become spokespeople for the topics they choose to address through their work, as well as to ensure that we produce artworks with strong communicative values.

Inclusion & Diversity

The ocean belongs to no one and everyone at the same time, so we believe it to be paramount that the ocean conservation movement be representative of the diverse people, cultures, genders, and perspectives that make humanity so unique. By creating an inclusive space, we can better understand the opportunities and challenges that exist in preserving our oceans for future generations.

#paintforapurpose

The chief purpose of the art we curate through the Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans program is to catalyze tangible, positive change for our oceans. The works not only beautify and revitalize public spaces but carry long-term educational value for the local community, visitors and the world at large who experience these projects via our extensive social media reach. We paint for a purpose.

Beyond Art

Beyond the creation of public artworks, the Sea Walls model is multi-faceted and incorporates a variety of accompanying events including youth workshops, panel discussions, film screenings, nature excursions, and cultural immersion. These public gatherings present excellent opportunities for the community to get involved and learn about how they can make a difference for our oceans.

Youth Mentorship

We believe that arming the next generation of ocean advocates and ARTivists with the necessary skills is key to the longevity of our movement. For this reason, we offer an immersive mentorship program to young creatives as an opportunity for them to work alongside established artists from across the globe, and to develop an art practice that is rooted in a purpose greater than themselves.
250

Artists Involved

Artists from 43 countries around the world contributed their work to Sea Walls.

350

Murals Created

Artwork produced by the Sea Walls project extends to all corners of the world.

15

Countries

We have shared our ARTivism message with nations spanning the globe.

How It All Started

In 2013, on the small island nation of Sri Lanka, the driving concept behind Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans was conceived. Looking for a creative avenue to harness the growing popularity of public art to raise awareness for pressing ocean environmental issues, we painted our first Sea Walls mural addressing the overfishing of the threatened manta rays.

Sri Lanka hosts one of the largest fishing operations of manta rays in the world with these gentle giants gills destined for the phony medicine on the Chinese market. Partnering with local conservation efforts, Manta Trust, we painted our first Sea Walls mural addressing the overfishing of these majestic creatures on the façade of a small house alongside a bustling coastline.

The Sri Lanka mural, and subsequent media content our team produced to spotlight the public art activation received a level of recognition that we could not have anticipated. The exercise served as a light bulb moment, and we immediately realized the impact and possibility of taking these important messages into the public realm via art and activism.

With a rapidly growing support network, and singular murals popping up around the world, the following year we crafted our first Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans activation on Isle Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.

The pioneering project bought together 15 renowned artists from around the world to paint large-scale murals addressing the conservation of endangered whale sharks that aggregate off the coast annually. The Isla Mujeres activation received global media coverage, including the New York Times and Huffington Post, shining a much-needed spotlight on the local ecotourism efforts. In the wake of the project, we received a flood of inquiries from concerned and passionate individuals around the world troubled about the health of their oceans and asking how they can bring a Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans activation to their community.

In the handful of years since those first murals were created, PangeaSeed Foundation’s Sea Walls: Artist for Oceans program has developed into a globally renowned public art initiative, the only one of its kind. Through globe-spanning collaborations, we have partnered with hundreds of artists, concerned creatives, change makers, organizations and brands helping to beautify communities and give our oceans a creative voice so desperately needed.

To date, PangeaSeed Foundation has curated and produced over 300 public murals in 14 countries, building a new wave of education and awareness helping to inspire individuals and communities to become better ocean stewards via art and activism. Or as we lovingly refer to it; ARTivism.

Why Public Art

 

The earliest known artwork is a mural. The 40,000-year-old handprints in the Sulawesi Caves of Indonesia send us a simple message that endures to this day: “I am here.”

Murals are powerful. They act as a visual springboard for stories, ideas, beliefs, and histories. We’ve always used them to make public statements about who we are and what we care about. And our compulsion to make our mark on walls continues to this day.

In an era of digital saturation and information overload, murals are more important than ever. Public, accessible and grassroots, they cut through the dialogue to make simple, powerful statements that endure much longer than thoughts on a Twitter feed.

We are at a critical moment in history where the crisis of our environment must be heard. Muralists have the unique power make public environmental statements that transcend cultural and linguistic barriers, endure the test of time and inspire us to make a change.

Muralists can visually tell the stories, facts and scientific realities that let our planet say: “I am here,” and “I need help.”

Five years ago, UNESCO recognized the crucial role that art plays in sustainable development. The Hangzhou Declaration urged governments, civil society and the private sector to harness the power of creative industries to address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

 

 

“Culture is precisely what enables sustainability – as a source of strength, of values and social cohesion, self-esteem and participation.”

Irina Bokova, Director General, UNESCO

 

By placing art and culture at the heart of public policy, the Hangzhou Declaration recognized two things. Not only can art draw attention to important problems, but it also plays a significant role in facilitating solutions.

Sustainable development and the creative arts might seem an unlikely pairing when you picture sterile walls inside a gallery. But art that is made for the public space is naturally bound up in the local identity of a place. It becomes part of how we navigate, how we remember landmarks or even how we interact with other people. Interestingly, studies show that public areas with more art have lower crime rates and create increased feelings of personal safety. The research studies, conducted in New York, USA and Ipoh, Malaysia show the influence that more art in the streets can have on our mood and behavior (Sakip, Bahaluddin and Hassan, 2016 and Snyder, 2009).

We use art to catalyze social and economic change for the protection of our oceans, creating transformations that are more than aesthetic. It’s an approach to sustainable development championed by the ‘Placemaking’ movement. In creative placemaking, urban planners and developers collaborate with other sectors, using art to shape the physical and social character of a community. Successful placemaking makes a community not only more creative but also more liveable, diverse and economically viable. (Markusen and Gadwa, 2010).

Sea Walls aims to change attitudes towards ocean conservation. By doing so, they generate local jobs and attract unrelated business and workers to communities they engage.

Initiatives like Sea Walls are not only creating a more beautiful public space but one that is more prosperous, more socially cohesive and ultimately, more environmentally sustainable.

 

 

The role of an artist is to make revolution irresistible.”

Toni Cade Bambara

 

Street art has always been associated with activism. The streets are where artists fight to reclaim the public space from the economic agenda of advertisers. But while Banksy stenciling paradise posters on the Gaza Strip certainly makes a point, street artists are doing so much more for our environment beyond drawing attention to adversity.

‘Artivism’ is where art meets action. It’s a communicative approach that recognizes the power of art to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers. (Goris and Hollander, 2017). ARTivists use art in public spaces to mobilize ideas, generate understanding and most importantly, show society how to change.

In the environmental crisis we face today, ARTivists play a vital role. They can do what a scientist with a line graph often can’t – distill important scientific realities and present the facts in a way we can all understand. Be it rising ocean temperatures or prolific plastic pollution, eye-catching and symbolic art in public places is what can cut through the dialogue to deliver powerful environmental messages.

Coral Conch Shell’ by supporting ARTivist Meggs is a perfect example of Artivism. His mural visually represents WWF findings that we have already lost 27% of the world’s coral reefs. We will loose up to 60% of these reefs over the next 30 years if our destructive habits persist.

Artists like Meggs aren’t just playing with symbols, colors and lines, they are harnessing scientific knowledge. His work is a call to action for greater environmental stewardship, while also presenting an innovative visual representation of the very real scientific scenario faced by endangered coral reefs.

At PangeaSeed Foundation, we embrace the message from underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau: “People protect what they love, they love what they understand, and they understand what they are taught.”

Before any of our Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans projects launch, artists are given an information pack educating them about ocean issues specific to the area they are painting. They are urged to take ownership of a topic, researching it heavily to become a spokesperson both during the project and beyond.

When a wide range of artists with all kinds of stylistic approaches are mobilized in this way, environmental messages are more unique and inspiring than a billboard could ever be.

In an increasingly interconnected civic space, where disciplines can cross-pollinate, and ideas can transcend borders, hierarchies, and regimes, the artist can do so much more than capture an image of a polar bear on an iceberg.

The artist is not just a storyteller, but a public campaigner: not just a creative but a scientist, an engineer, a social worker and a revolutionary too.

They are not propositioning a better future, but part of the movement of change to create one.