Delicate Cut Paper Sculptures Raise Awareness About Dangers of Coral Bleaching


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A post shared by Rogan Brown (@rogan_brown_)

Artist Rogan Brown is known for taking delicate sheets of paper and turning them into gorgeous three-dimensional sculptures of coral reefs. His work is so incredible that it's hard to believe that we're not looking at images taken in nature.

Brown's portfolio of work showcases endless examples of what can happen when art and conservation come together to raise awareness and inspire change. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), coral reefs all around the globe are being threatened by pollution, disease, and habitat destruction. Because of this, it is not unusual to find examples of coral bleaching among the reefs, which is a process that turns coral white as it is exposed to more stress.

As a result, many of Brown's sculptures are on white paper rather than the vibrant colors that we've grown to associate with healthy coral reefs. This provides much of his work with a solemn feeling as the viewer looks upon replicas of pale, damaged coral. Occasionally, some color does bleed through to his work, but it is often used as a way to highlight the stark contrast between bleached and healthy coral. In his 2022 piece Ghost Coral, white coral encircles a vibrant, colorful center, and the viewer can't help but wonder how long it will be before the bleaching spreads to the center as well.

The careful skill that goes into every one of Brown's pieces is undeniable. One can only imagine how much time it must take the artist to carefully cut the shapes out of paper and how careful he must be when applying them to the larger sculpture. But the work certainly pays off, and each of his pieces is jam-packed with details that require careful viewing to fully appreciate.

Brown's designs are not only limited to sculptures. Several years ago, he partnered with fashion designer Iris van Herpen to create several stunning gowns with his coral designs. One of these dresses was even worn by actress and singer Hailee Steinfeld to the 2021 Met Gala.

To keep up with Brown's work, follow him on Instagram or check out his website.

Rogan Brown is known for his coral sculptures, which he creates by painstakingly cutting and assembling paper to resemble real-life reefs.

Picture Of Circular White Paper Sculpture That Looks Like Coral

Much of his work is motivated by conservation, as the artist tries to spread awareness about the future of the coral reefs and the many challenges they face due to climate change.

Close Up Shot Of Detail On Paper Coral Sculpture

Close Up Shot Of Detail On Paper Coral Sculpture

Most of Brown's paper sculptures are white as a way to mimic the very real problem of coral bleaching, but every now and then, a bit of color appears.


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A post shared by Rogan Brown (@rogan_brown_)

For those of you interested in knowing what Brown's creative process looks like, he has posted an illuminating time lapse video on his Instagram of him assembling one of his pieces.


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A post shared by Rogan Brown (@rogan_brown_)

Rogan Brown: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Rogan Brown.

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Sarah Currier

Sarah Currier is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Based in central Iowa, she is currently enrolled at Iowa State University and is working toward a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in English. She loves all things creative, and when she’s not writing, you can find her immersed in the worlds of television, film, and literature.
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