Hold Fast Immersive Art Exhibition Opens at Birch Aquarium

Don’t miss this powerful and immersive art exhibit that invites us to explore the impact of climate change on our local kelp forest through the lens of three local artists and scientists!

Explore a labyrinth of cyanotype-printed giant kelp by photo-based artist and marine scientist Oriana Poindexter, encounter local species through gyotaku prints by artist Dwight Hwang, and delve into the tiny world of kelp propagation with Scripps Oceanography PhD student Mohammad Sedarat.

Hold Fast

The Hold Fast Art Exhibit: A Beacon of Hope Amid Climate Change

Hold Fast challenges our ideas of what climate work can include by bridging the worlds of art and science and offers the opportunity to explore how our own talents can be harnessed as we work together to protect our oceans.

“Warming waters and giant kelp don’t mix. We have to be realistic about the outsized impact that climate change has on our local Giant Kelp forests,” said Megan Dickerson, Birch Aquarium’s Director of Exhibits and co-curator of the installation.

“But at the same time, local people are doing beautiful things. This Hold Fast installation posits that the actions of local artists and scientists can give us hope that together, as a community, we can make collective change as we also acknowledge climate trauma.”

Meet the artists

Poindexter is an artist and marine scientist who is documenting the changes in La Jolla’s local kelp forests through photo-based artwork. In Hold Fast, her life-sized cyanotype prints on fabric create a stunning kelp forest for guests to explore without getting wet.

“The Giant Kelp forests off San Diego are ebbing and flowing despite the anthropogenic impacts that complicate their existence,” said Poindexter, who is also co-curator of the installation.

“My method to engage with the giant kelp forests is to free dive in, around, through them—and to collect specimens from which to artistically document both the environment and the experience.”

“The physicality of this process is therapeutic for me as I grapple with the impacts of humanity on the environment.”

Hwang is a classic Japanese gyotaku artist who aims to tell stories through his animal and fish prints. In Hold Fast, his prints will focus on local kelp forest animals found off La Jolla shores, allowing guests to get an even closer view of these fascinating species.

Sedarat is a PhD Student at the Smith Lab at Scripps Oceanography whose research explores the impact of climate change on La Jolla’s kelp forest.

In Hold Fast, his work demonstrates why critical giant kelp ecosystems have not returned since recent marine heatwaves and explores what we can do to bring them back through genetic banking and propagation.

Birch Aquarium
Hold Fast Art Exhibit

Ebb and Flow, an Accompanying Exhibit

UC San Diego Library is hosting an accompanying exhibit, Ebb and Flow: Giant Kelp Forests through Art, Science and the Archives, at Geisel Library now through April 21, 2024.

Birch Aquarium

Uniting archival material with contemporary art, this exhibit showcases works created as a result of continued observation of the local giant kelp forest environment by artists, scientists, and community members over the past 134 years.

See you there!

Hold Fast Art Exhibit will be on display until September 2024.

Hold Fast is included with the cost of General Admission, which is $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children ages three to 17. Annual memberships are also available.

The aquarium is open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily with extended seasonal hours from 9 AM to 7 PM from March 1 through Labor Day. Advanced reservations are required. Visit here for more information, including a daily schedule of events.

See you there, San Diego!

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