SymbioSEAS: Plankton, Polyps and more

Mar 13, 2019

Spirits were high at the Symbioseas opening at The ARTS at Marks Garage. This cross-disciplinary exhibit paired artists and scientists for collaborative work, and encouraged 22 scientists to submit pieces based on their research. The show will be up through March 30, 2019.
Credit Keisha Bahr

The ARTS at Marks Garage is under new management.  The mission is still:  To transform downtown Honolulu with the power of the arts.  It was a nice mix of creative brains and skillful hands the other night at the opening of SymbioSEAS—an art-sci (art and science) collaboration.

Credit Judy Lemus

“My thing is that STEM should be STEAM,” says Reiko Ho, the new Programming Director at the ARTS at Marks Garage.  She’d like to see the now widely acclaimed “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math” curriculum expand to include Art.

Ho:  This is an amazing exhibit that over 40 scientists and artists worked on for over a year to bring science and the arts together, and to help save our coral reefs.

The SymbioSEAS opening at Marks was such a lively conglomeration of people.  There were colorful banners of aquatic life forms, videos of coral polyps, microscope projectors were on so everyone could see living polyps, there was a ceramic reef, and a big overhead net related to plankton research.

The  entire cross-disciplinary project was spearheaded by Beth Lenz, a PhD candidate in marine biology at UH Mānoa.  Since Lenz studies impacts of recent bleaching events on coral sexual reproduction, she spends most of her time at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology in Kāne‘ohe.

Lenz:  In terms of being at Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, we’re isolated on the windward side.  We do have community education and outreach programs available, but this was just an amazing way to really extend our reach and translate it in completely different and creative ways by utilizing the talents around us, the  artists that are based on O‘ahu, and bring them, invite them to the island to work alongside the scientists.

This exhibition displays the work of seven collaborative teams of scientists paired with artists, and 22 scientists have submitted their own works of art inspired by their research on the reef.

Credit Beth Lenz

Lenz:  It’s wonderful, it’s very exciting!  There are so many avenues this project is taking in a way.  We’re treating science like it’s and art and art like it’s a science.  We’re really combining those two fields that for some reason became more separate over time, and we’re trying to bridge them together and integrate the two to really show how necessary they are to share a story.

It’s not enough to have a good looking gallery these days, you’ve got to work the space----remember the VA in SaVAge K’lub.  So coming up during the SymbioSEAS exhibit, a performance piece by Kiki Rivera on March 29, Science + Art for Educators on March 30, and a coral film screening and discussion the night of March 30, 2019.

This Saturday, March 16, 2019, you, too, can be an Art/Sci activist by supporting projects through a community dinner. 

Abby Seitz, is a planner by day, and the volunteer founder of FEAST Hawai‘i otherwise.  Seitz says, everyone pitches in a little bit and we have this project that can come out of community resources.

Abby Seitz is the volunteer organizer of FEAST, a project that provides direct community funding for creative advocacy--that is, creative ways of contributing to worthy causes.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

Seitz:  It’s very simple.  It’s just a community dinner where everyone gathers and pays about $20 or so for the entrance fee.  During the dinner, different artists and creatives in the community will pitch public art projects, creative advocacy.

Seitz:  We’ve worked with Mental Health America in the past, some different environmental groups, to focus on a specific issue and look at how art can bring awareness to it or start addressing this issue. 

FEAST and NERD Night Honolulu are teaming up for an event to support Symbioseas artists and scientists: 

This Saturday, March 16, 6-9pm, $25 gets you dinner and TED style talks about the works in the show.  Dinner is catered, leaving about ¾ of the funds from the event for the project everyone decides on at the end.

Past winners have gotten anywhere from $600 to over a thousand dollars, and they get help with the project too. 

A past winner, pianist Monika Haar got her plastic pollution video project funded by FEAST---she’ll be presenting the video with a panel on art for social change at the Honolulu Biennial HUB this Sunday, 3/17/19.

FEAST is presenting an HB19 event as well, around issues of Pacific people and places, on April 27th.