Swirling Ceramic Installations Raise Awareness For the Fragile Beauty of ‘Our Changing Seas’

Coral Art by Courtney Mattison

“Revolve” installation. (Photo: Mark Olencki for Wofford College)

Inspired by the sea, artist Courtney Mattison expresses its beauty and fragility through her large-scale ceramic installations. In creating intricate sculptures of coral reefs, she relays the importance of this underwater ecosystem—one that is under serious threat because of us.

We’ve marveled over Mattison’s work before, particularly Our Changing Seas, which is an ongoing series that features ceramic sculptures depicting coral artfully arranged on walls. A selection of her organisms pieces are colorful but ultimately surrounded by sculptures that are painted completely white to represent coral bleaching, a process in which coral turns white due to stressors like warmer water or other environmental changes.

One of the latest additions to the Our Changing Seas collection is a permanent installation aptly titled Our Changing Seas VII. Placed inside the Seabird Resort in Oceanside, California, it features 350 handcrafted ceramic corals, sponges, and anemones that swirl in a double galaxy spiral. “This sculptural wall relief celebrates the immense biodiversity of coral reefs while raising the specter of climate change,” Mattison explains to My Modern Met. “Porcelain tentacles and the brittle bodies of living corals share a fragility that makes them vulnerable to human impact.”

This vulnerability is also showcased through Mattison’s Revolve installation. While it still includes coral, the focus of this piece is on water. “Water connects us all, from the lush banks of Lawsons Fork Creek to the icy glaciers of the Arctic and glittering reefs of Southeast Asia,” she says. “Life on Earth is dependent on healthy oceans. The swirling design of this work is inspired by these connections and patterns, with revolving forms repeated in nature through hurricanes, seashells, ocean waves, and galaxies.”

Through these beautiful and thought-provoking pieces, the artist is helping raise awareness for the protection of our environment while imploring people—from politicians to everyday citizens—to conserve our changing seas.

Artist Courtney Mattison has produced two new ceramic art installations that aim to raise awareness for our changing marine environment.

Coral Art by Courtney Mattison

“Revolve” installation in progress. (Photo: Mark Olencki for Wofford College)

One installation, titled Our Changing Seas VII, features 350 handcrafted ceramic corals, sponges, and anemones that, while beautiful, are vulnerable to human impact.

Ceramic Art Installation by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Rebecca Webb

Ceramic Art Installation by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Rebecca Webb

Ceramic Art Installation by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Rebecca Webb

Ceramic Art Installation by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Rebecca Webb

Ceramic Art Installation by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Rebecca Webb

Ceramic Art Installation by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Rebecca Webb

Coral Art by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Rebecca Webb

Ceramic Art Installation by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Rebecca Webb

Ceramic Art Installation by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Rebecca Webb

The other installation is Revolve and focuses on water and how it connects us all.

Coral Art by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Mark Olencki for Wofford College

Coral Art by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Mark Olencki for Wofford College

Coral Art by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Mark Olencki for Wofford College

Coral Art by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Mark Olencki for Wofford College

Coral Art by Courtney Mattison

Photo: Mark Olencki for Wofford College

Courtney Mattison: Website | Instagram | Facebook 

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Courtney Mattison.

Related Articles:

Large Coral Reef Sculpture Raises Conservation Awareness

Dazzling Outdoor Installation Uses “Light Recipes” To Sustainably Inspire Plant Growth

Colorful Installation Invites Viewers to an Immersive Collage of Earth’s Biodiversity

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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