November 12, 2013
Four staff members in the Aquarium’s security department designed and built a guitar out of materials from a former Aquarium exhibit to auction off at the institution’s annual fundraising event, Sea Fare. Combining their passion for music and art with their dedication to the Aquarium, these staff members created an instrument that is both beautiful and functional and reflects the mission and vision of the Aquarium.
When security officers and musicians Dimitrios Athanasopolous and James Grupe found out that an exhibit at the Aquarium modeling wave action (formerly in the Tropical Pacific gallery) was going to be removed, they asked facilities staff members if they could have the discarded acrylic that formed the tank. Athanasopolous, an experienced guitar builder, explains that he and Grupe wanted compare an instrument made of acrylic compared to a standard wooden guitar. They soon came up with the idea of donating the guitar to the Aquarium’s annual Sea Fare event.
Security officer Nathan Kogen offered to create an embroidered strap for the instrument, and fellow officer Ninah Jackson offered to serve as a digital media consultant, helping with the parts of the process that required a computer for creating the design. Taking advantage of the acrylic’s transparency, the guitar features a sea jelly carving by Grupe and sea jellies embroidered on the strap created by Kogen.
The finished “Jellycaster” guitar was auctioned at Sea Fare on October 19, raising significant funds for the Aquarium’s education, conservation, and animal care programs.