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Eight Aquarium of the Pacific Students Win National Coastal America Ocean Art Contest

Eight Aquarium of the Pacific Students Win National Coastal America Ocean Art Contest


September 22, 2008

Student’s Art will be on Display in Four-Month Exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and Top Winners Fly to Washington for Special Ceremony

In an event today the Aquarium of the Pacific announced that eight of its students are among the 20 national winners of the Coastal America Ocean Art Contest. The students were among thousands across the country who participated in the competition on the importance of the ocean. The first and second place students will fly to a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. on September 26 and the art of all eight students will be in a four-month exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History. Reproductions of their winning artwork will also be on display at the Aquarium of the Pacific through December 31, 2008.

There were five age groups in the art competition, and the Aquarium’s students placed in every category. In the K to 2nd grade category, Jessica Xu from Alhambra, CA and Andrew Avila from San Gabriel, CA tied for third place. In the 3rd to 5th grade category, Anisha Shah of Anaheim, CA placed second. In the 6th to 8th grade category Allison Cheung of Anaheim, CA won first place. Also in that category Cindy Lee of Diamond Bar, CA tied for third. In the 9th to 12th grade category, Caroline Park of La Mirada, CA placed first. In the college category, Emeline Prince of Boulder, CO won first and Owen Freeman of Pasadena, CA tied for third.

Coastal America and its network of 21 Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers (CELC), which are made up of aquariums and learning centers located throughout the United States and Mexico, sponsored the contest. Coastal America and the CELC network worked on the contest in partnership with the Coastal America Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Museum of Natural History. The CELC network also worked closely on the contest with schools located in communities across the continent. The Aquarium of the Pacific is a Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center.

The 20 national winning student artwork entries, with selections in each of five age groups competing, were chosen from over 2,000 entries submitted. The artwork and accompanying essay addressing a key ocean literacy principle was first considered by 16 CELC regional judging panels, and the winners of these regional contests were then judged by a national panel that included leading representatives from the sciences, arts, government, and the Smithsonian. The winners were selected based on their works’ creativity, artistic ability, and skill at raising awareness of critical principals linked to the health of the world’s ocean. As a CELC, the Aquarium of the Pacific submitted 15 regional winners, out of 400 entries received, to the national competition.

The Winning Art

First Place: Thicker Than Water by Emeline Prince, University of Colorado
“The subject of Thicker Than Water consists of two horseshoe crabs encircling one another. Horseshoe crabs are a unique part of the ocean’s vast diversity of life. Dating back 100 million years before dinosaurs, they are one of the Earth’s oldest creatures. The valuable relationship between horseshoe crabs and people goes beyond their place within the ocean’s ecosystem. A clotting element in the horseshoe crab blood detects bacteria in human blood and intravenous drugs, and their blood is so valuable that the crabs are caught, blood is ‘harvested,’ and then released back into the ocean. The color of horseshoe crab’s blood is light blue just as the color of the painting’s background. Coupled with the background, red accents highlight the images of horseshoe crabs and the connections with humans and their blood. Horseshoe crabs are a fascinating and unique ocean species, but they are also indispensable contributors to human health,” said Prince.

A double major in evolutionary biology/ecology and studio art, Prince believes art is a safer ground for many people as science often equals compliced. “I believe initially people are more interested in art as it’s more visual, and we are a more visual society. I always hide science in my art. People become more interested and accidentally learn,” said Prince.

“The ocean is a water issue…it is important to everyone no matter where they live. There are water issues in Colorado. It is not just a coastal issue, but also a state, national, and global issue. It is necessary to be aware. The largest amount of water in the world is in the ocean, and our use is not necessarily thought out. Watersheds from the Continental Divide of the U.S. end up in the ocean, so what we do in Colorado will end up in the ocean or someone’s drinking water. The water cycle makes it so. People and the ocean are connected in obvious ways. My painting is about those not obvious. And there are so many unknown connections that we haven’t discovered yet. We need to protect and conserve the ocean as it would be a shame to lose these resources,” said Prince.

First Place: Pattern and Ocean Painting by Caroline Park, Ninth Grade, La Mirada High School
“The painting is mainly about how the Earth offers us the ocean, which provides us with beautiful beaches, water, food, and so many significant resources. It is based on how the ocean and its life make the Earth a place for us to live. The water faucet represents how the Earth provides us the ocean. The glass cup represents that the ocean, filled with the sun, water, fish, clams, and much more, gives us abundant resources, making the Earth habitable. We cannot survive without the great things the Earth and its ocean have to offer,” said Park.

Park was inspired to enter the contest by her biology and art teachers at La Mirada High School. Also when growing up in Korea, she used to go to the beach often with her family, which inspired her to see the importance of ocean. “A lot of resources come from the ocean. All people should try their best to protect them,” said Park who also wished to thank her art teacher Ms. Oskin, who retired last year for inspiring her.

First Place: The Ocean and Humans by Allison Cheung, Sixth Grade, Fairmont Private School, Anaheim
“The ocean has proved to be an important part of human civilization. Again and again, the ocean provides us humans with many resources, and it has helped us in many ways. As a result, the ocean and humans are closely interconnected with one another. Humans need the ocean’s help, just as the ocean needs our help. In my artwork, the human’s hand and the wave of the ocean symbolize this bond between humans and ocean. The finger symbolizes all of human civilization. The finger is intertwined with the wave, also showing that their fates are both intertwined. Without the ocean, life would be hard on Earth. The glow from the hand and the wave show that if humans help the ocean, Earth would be a better place to live, and all the animals swim towards that future hope,” said Cheung.

Cheung entered the contest to help the ocean. “I wanted to help the environment through my art. People depend on the ocean, and without it, we wouldn’t have a lot of things. On a school trip to Catalina Island, I learned the ocean is interesting and important and that you should care more about it. This contest lets young kids know that they can help the environment,” said Cheung.

Second Place: Ocean Ecosystem by Anisha Shah, 4th Grade, Fairmont Private School, Anaheim
“The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems. In my drawing, I have illustrated sea turtles, fishes, plants, and mollusk shells. All of these animals live together in a habitat. We know things such as their life cycles, what they eat, and how long they live, but we do not know how and if they feel. A picture is like one second of their life. We don’t exactly know what they are doing or what will happen next. This is up to one’s imagination,” said Shah.

Shah was inspired by her art teacher to enter the contest. “I feel honored to be a winner. It is once in a lifetime to be exhibited in the Smithsonian,” said Shah. “The ocean is part of our world, a natural resource that provides food and water. It is important to take care of the ocean by not polluting or dumping trash. By not polluting, we will preserve the ocean and its ecosystems for years to come.”

Third Place: Colors in the Crayon Box by Andrew Avila, Kindergarten, Emperor Elementary, San Gabriel
Andrew Avila’s kindergarten class visited the Aquarium of the Pacific this past spring. Following his visit, he asked his mom, “If we keep our oceans clean, will the fish have pretty colors like the ones in my crayon box?” He drew a picture of his favorite fish, which he said had smiled at him. Avila writes, “I love to see the creatures of the ocean. My favorite kind of fish has many colors.” Avila and his parents believe the ocean is important and that we are all part of it. Avila recycles at home and wants to be sure the fish in the ocean can live without pollution. He loves to draw, especially those things he cares about, and is excited that his art will be on display at the Smithsonian.

Third Place: What A Happy Day! by Jessica Xu, Second Grade, Emmaus Lutheran School, Alhambra
“When I took [a] submarine [ride] at Catalina Island, I saw so many fishes swimming around big kelp. I had decided to draw all kinds of fishes with all the beautiful colors…I knew the ocean is big enough to have all my favorite colored fishes in there. And, I knew there are so many different fishes and animals that live in the ocean…I just love the ocean,” said Xu.

Third Place: Inextricably Interconnected by Cindy Lee, Eighth Grade, Lorbeer Middle School, Diamond Bar
“The ocean is beautiful and very important to us. A lot of food that we eat everyday is from the ocean. Plants produce abundant nutrients that we need every day. We also use the ocean for recreation that the ocean supports such as swimming, diving, and snorkeling, which are popular around the world. People also like to go to the beaches and amusement parks near the beach for relaxation and fun. The water cycle causes the water. The sun heats the ocean, and the water evaporates and forms clouds. The water in the clouds then rains down entering the ground and making the plants grow. Eventually, the water returns to the ocean, and the cycle starts all over. Without the ocean, life on Earth will not exist,” said Lee.

Third Place: Breaker by Owen Freeman, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena
“This artwork is meant to convey not only the similarities between life above and below the ocean, but also to reflect the cyclical nature of water in a tangible, visual way. By allowing ourselves to consider that the ocean floor is as important as the land we walk, the hope is that the notion of disconnectedness can dissolve and we can begin to think from within the ocean, rather than simply above it,” said Freeman.

Aquarium of the Pacific:
The Aquarium of the Pacific, located in Long Beach, CA, is a nonprofit institution with a mission to “instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems.” The Aquarium of the Pacific promotes ocean literacy and conservation through its exhibits, guest speakers, facilitating discussions on current issues, and providing a variety of educational programs.

To view all of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Regional Winners, please click here (slideshow here). The link will take you to our Flickr page which is an external site not owned by the Aquarium of the Pacific.