UC Santa Cruz Exhibition

May 06 Sat
Feb 10 - May 6, 2017
@ UCSC: Sesnon Gallery, Institute of the Arts & Sciences

By Margaret & Christine Wertheim & the Institute For Figuring

Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery
Sponsored by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences

Exhibition dates: February 10 – May 6, 2017


Detail of plastic trash anemone from “Coral Forest: Ea”, constructed out of found hula-hoops and cheap plastic hair ornaments.

At the IFF, we have long admired UCSC’s legendary History of Consciousness program, an important site of interdisciplinary research and practice. Donna Haraway, a Distinguished Professor Emerita of the program, is both a friend to the Reef project and an inspiration for our work; (she writes about the Reef in her newest book, Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene). When the campus’ new cross-departmental venture, the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, approached us about bringing the project to Santa Cruz, we accepted the invitation as a singular opportunity to experiment with our curatorial strategy. The resulting exhibition Crochet Coral Reef: CO2CA CO2LA Ocean, reframes the project by highlighting the cthulucene nature of the sculptures and by reimagining our plastic trash Midden as a monstrous undersea ceiling.

In conjunction with the showan accompanying year-long public art project will engage the local community in creating a UC Santa Cruz Satellite Reef that will be exhibited at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center later this year.

Crochet Coral Reef: CO2CA CO2LA Ocean and the UC Santa Cruz Satellite Reef are sponsored by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences in partnership with the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. The Institute of the Arts and Sciences is part of UC Santa Cruz’s Arts Division. It is an interdisciplinary programming unit which creates public exhibitions, public events, publications, and collaborations with faculty and students, aligning with UCSC’s teaching and research. The Sesnon Gallery encourages interdisciplinary discourse through the lens of the arts.

Gallery hours: Tues–Sat, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wed until 8 p.m.


IFF Exhibition webpage: here

UCSC/IAS Exhibition webpage: here

UCSC Satellite Reef webpage: here



Scientific AmericanHow to crochet a coral reef and why? here

Ideas.TED.com– Gallery: What happens when you mix math, coral and crochet? It’s mind blowing here

Santa Cruz Newsletter – IAS launches Santa Cruz Satellite Reef  here 

Santa Cruz Sentinel here,

Santa Cruz Good Times here


Opening Night Photos:


“Coral Forest” by Margaret and Christine Wertheim, constructed out of yarn and plastic trash. In background hangs a section of the “Latvian Satellite Reef” courtesy of Tija Viksna and Gallery Consiento, Riga Latvia.


“Coral Forest: Chthulu” constructed out of video tape, tinsel, cable ties and drinking straws by Christine Wertheim, with contributions from Evelyn Hardin.


Visitors explore an “undersea grove” of miniature coral “Pod Worlds” featuring plastic bottle anemones by Nadia Severns and Vanessa Garcia. These sculptures are sitting on a bed of plastic “sand” from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, gathered on Kamillo Beach Hawaii by Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Foundation.


Visitors exploring miniature coral “Pod Worlds” arranged beneath “The Midden” – four years worth of Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s domestic plastic trash suspended from the ceiling in a fishing net.


Spelunking beneath “The Midden” – four years worth of Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s domestic plastic trash.

The IFF’s work on this exhibition has been generously supported by a grant from the Opaline Fund of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

Special thanks to Anna Mayer, John Weber, Shelby Graham, Rachel Nelson, Donna Haraway.