Yesterday, I went to see David Eisenhour’s SWARM installation at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Bronze jellyfish slowly swirl in the space created by the big window at the front of the museum, while a nearby wall is covered in limpets and barnacles.
David’s work is very much driven by his concern with climate change, and its effect on the oceans. Ocean calcifiers — creatures that create shells from calcium carbonate (CaCO3) — suffer with increased acidification of the oceans. Increases in CO2 in ocean waters create corrosive carbonic acid, which prevents these organisms from creating shells properly.
Jellyfish, however, are resilient creatures and seem to be doing very well in warmer, more acid ocean waters. Not only do large jellyfish blooms push out other species, they can even cause havoc on us by clogging piping important in industry such as desalination plants and nuclear plants. Increasing numbers of jellyfish indicate an imbalance in marine ecosystems.
One of my favorite of David’s jellyfish sculptures is covered in imprints of human fingers, symbolizing the human impact on the world’s oceans, and also hinting at Mother Nature giving us the big, fat middle finger. As we know, if the oceans die, we die.
See David’s sculptures at BIMA if you can before they leave, otherwise, visit his studio in Port Hadlock. You can see other examples of his beautiful work at his web site, http://eisenhoursculpture.com/.