Migration Patterns

2014 Senior Art Showcase

Ellie Schmidt

Ellie_DSC6298Coral bleaching occurs when the delicate symbiosis between the coral animal colony and colorful algae called zooxanthellae is disrupted. The zooxanthellae are very sensitive to changes in their environment; even a couple degrees of difference can cause the zooxanthellae to abandon a coral colony, which induces the “bleaching” and slow death of the coral. One of the most visually striking effects of global warming, coral bleaching is already devastating reefs. The Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef system in the world, is predicted to undergo irreversible damage by 2030 if immediate action is not taken.

I believe that the unique power of art, especially in terms of politics and social change, is that it is able to present ideas that are not logical or easy to put into words. My comps aims to address the feeling of disturbing helplessness that I feel every time I read another article about the increasingly closer predicted death of the world’s coral reefs. The piece invites you to interact with the pieces, but in doing so the viewer unintentionally blocks the colorful projection and “bleaches” the corals. There is great sorrow in knowing that the very things that make me human are what threaten the natural world. What I have learned from working with these issues is to remind myself of the similar great human joy in experiencing nature as well. My comps seeks to bridge these two strange and powerful feelings. 

1 Agence France-Presse (AFP), Time running out for Great Barrier Reef: scientists, www.afp.com/en/news/topstories/time-running-out-great-barrier-reef-scientists (March 6, 2014).