Feeling Blue

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded UC Santa Cruz a $45,000 grant to support “Blue Trail: Imagination and Innovation for Ocean Sustainability,” a series of interactive installations for the San Francisco waterfront.

The mascot for this project, “Oceanic Scales,” was inspired by the micro-organisms of the sea. Through an interactive digital art installation and game, the exhibit invites visitors to explore the role of phytoplankton in maintaining a balanced ocean ecology.

“Call it art. Call it science. Call it cultural curiosity,” said Jennifer Parker, associate professor of art, and founding director of OpenLab, UC Santa Cruz’s art-science research center. “We’re exploring how art can engage people to think differently about our natural environment.”

Blue Trail resulted from conversations among campus colleagues looking for new opportunities to encourage public awareness of the environmental crisis in our oceans. The physical creation of the Ocean Scales exhibit incorporates sustainable construction into the theme.

“OpenLab develops work for experiencing art and science research that is accessible to the general public,” Parker said.

UC Santa Cruz was one of 886 non-profit organizations to receive an Art Works grant.