MODELING THE REEF
PUBLIC EDUCATION AND ART PROJECT
Modeling the Reef is an interdisciplinary public education and art project designed by Beatriz Chachamovits to provide access to and awareness of ecological, social, and craft knowledge to middle school students in the Miami Dade County public school system. The project consists of four phases with distinct learning and material outcomes. Students will first discover Miami's underwater ecosystems through an interactive marine ecology lesson followed by a coral sculpting workshop led by Beatriz on how to craft their own ceramic coral sculptures. The work produced by the children will contribute to a large-scale collective reef model which will form a public shoreline art installation. This model will ultimately transition underwater and be sunk into the ocean to serve as a structural base which supports real coral growth.
As an environmental artist, my work deals with the decline of the coral reef ecosystems. I make drawings, sculptures and installations that investigates and highlights the main causes of the state that coral reefs are found today.
The phenomena known as coral bleaching, ocean acidification and plastic pollution are the main starting points in discussing the human effects in ocean conservancy.
I invite the public to discover a complex biological network, where the concept of ecosystem is materialized through organization, symmetry and repetition.
My recent and interactive pieces (like, how to dry kill, to kill with water and to replenish with water) deals with the ephemeral state of the work and its forever changing quality, much like the ocean itself. It creates kinship with the creatures of the reef, a direct bodily experience to raise awareness and responsibility of this most powerful and endangered ecosystem.
Like the reef itself, my work uses a number of underlying structures – interdependence, diversity and scale – to organize collective empathy. My main interest is to study these phenomena to create dry dives, a way of showing a vailed ecosystem internal to our planet that most people don’t have access to. I am especially interested in endangered species and how to translate scientific based studies into visual arts.
My most recent activity on mitigating strategies for ocean conservancy is creating sculptures that functions as artificial reefs so they can perform their crucial role in deflating the tourism on natural reefs, in providing new structures for corals to attach and grow, generating nursing spaces and new homes for so many reef animals and in helping control sea level rise in coral depleted areas.
Like coral, the phases of realizing this community-based artwork grow outwards from the initial education component, with opportunities for new public outreach and discovery at each level. Although the focus of the project is oriented towards the value that artmaking can bring to the kids, the possible reach that a raised ecological awareness on younger generations will have a valuable impact on their families and friends. From there, the public will witness a community-built installation on the beach which can spark conversations between fellow students and passerbys, all of which can have a direct positive effect on the health of our marine ecosystems.