Courtney Mattison Hopes to Inspire Reef Conservation with New Series

by CaroPosted on

If we continue spewing pollution into the atmosphere, our climate will only continue to change, and the oceans will be very different than they are today. Ocean temperatures will rise, and with that, rising PH levels will make the water more acidic. It’s simple chemistry and a sad fact. So how do we solve this problem? Artist and ocean advocate Courtney Mattison has made it the mission of her ceramic sculptures to remind us of the ocean’s beauty and inspire preservation. Her “Changing Seas ” series, previously featured on our blog, is Mattison’s first major work towards this goal. The series features realistic and vibrant renderings of bizarre coral reef organisms, designed as an educational tool and art with a confrontational, yet hopeful message. She is currently preparing for a solo show titled “Sea Change” at the Virginia MOCA that will continue the series and introduce some new ideas. Mattison’s exhibit relates to such environmental topics as climate change, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, and humanity’s relationship with the sea. Take a look at our preview of her new works below, including her comments about each series.


Fossil Fuels: “I’m working on a series of hand-sculpted ceramic oil and gas containers encrusted in bleached (sickened) corals to highlight the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on reef health.”


A piece from Courtney Mattison’s “Fossil Fuels” series, in progress.

Hope Spots: “This series consists of circular, hand-sculpted, ceramic wall-mounted pieces, each of which presents an idealized, healthy vignette from a different marine ecosystem. Mission Blue, an ocean conservation organization founded by oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle that I work for part-time, has identified 58 Hope Spots around the globe as special places that are critical to the health of the ocean.

“I’m sculpting them to raise awareness about these incredible ecosystems that are normally “out of sight, out of mind,” and to inspire viewers to learn about and support the creation of marine protected areas, which are like national parks in the ocean.”


A piece from Courtney Mattison’s “Hope Spots” series, in progress.

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