San Diego’s coast is home to iconic underwater forests of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). Towering 100 feet tall from the ocean’s rocky floor to the surface, they create homes for hundreds of animals to live in and can regulate the impacts of climate change. These forests provide many benefits to the ocean, animals and humans.
The Library is currently hosting Ebb and Flow: Giant Kelp Forests through Art, Science and the Archives, an exhibition curated in partnership with Oriana Poindexter ’15, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Scripps) alumna and artist. The exhibition displays works created as a result of continued observation of the local giant kelp forest environment by artists, scientists and community members over the past 134 years.
Located in the Exhibition Gallery at Geisel Library and in The Nest, the artwork is the interpretation of the giant kelp forest by four contemporary artists – Julia C R Gray, Dwight Hwang, Marie McKenzie, and Oriana Poindexter – in their distinct styles using ceramic, sculpture, oil painting, gyotaku and alternative photographic processes.
Seaweed pressings collected in La Jolla from 1890 through 2023 will also be on display. A 1905 seaweed pressing album from the Library’s Special Collections & Archives (SC&A), created by Virginia Scripps and her sister, Ellen Browning Scripps, the founding benefactor of Scripps, shows a similar diversity of seaweed species as recent pressings created by Scripps Professor Jennifer Smith. Additional pressings from the Scripps Herbarium Collection, now housed at the San Diego Natural History Museum, will be on loan from the museum for this exhibition and will accompany those from SC&A.
Ebb and Flow illuminates the evolution and the persistence of giant kelp forests, ebbing and flowing through time but continuing to hold fast to the rocky shorelines. The works in this collection document the giant kelp forests and associated species from 1890 to the present day by uniting archival material with contemporary art, bridging art and science to inspire awe, ignite curiosity and catalyze dialogue.
Image Credit: Oriana Poindexter