Dear Artists, The Ocean is Calling

How one mural competition can raise awareness for millions

By: Clara Perez 

(Note: Article was written in May 2017)

With the opportunity to have your artwork seen by millions on the infamous Coney Island boardwalk, The New York Aquarium and their sponsor, the Wildlife Conservation Society, have let out a call to brushes for artists who are interested in having environmental conservation as their subject.

Each year has had a theme that artists must adhere to, and express in their own unique way. This year’s theme was “Ocean Plastics,” where the excessive plastic pollution that faces our oceans was the highlight of the artist’s designs.

The 141 by 12 ft  high mural located on Surf Avenue and West 8th Street, will be sectioned into three parts for the three winning artists to share.

The mural lies in the heart of the boardwalk experience, adjacent to the historic Luna Park, Nathans and the Wonder Wheel.

With a workspace so large and an audience so plentiful and diverse, the artists chosen have a once in a lifetime opportunity to have their art speak. The Boardwalk is visited by millions of people every summer and the mural’s prime location will allow for maximum viewing and admiration.

The deadline for this year’s competition was mid-April, so any interested artists should begin brainstorming for next year’s openings. The new theme will be announced this winter, giving artists time to develop their works for the April 2018 deadline.

Three winning artists will be chosen by May 15. Work on the mural will begin the week of June 5,  just in time for the populous summer season.

With themes centralized around the ocean and environmental challenges that our world faces, the artwork serves as public outreach to raise awareness. In addition to creating a work of art that will be enjoyed by visitors near and far, the chosen artists will also receive a stipend of $2000.

Shedding light on impactful issues that some visitors may not be aware of can begin to trickle into knowledge that leads to action. That is an invaluable by-product of the work that will be displayed yearly.

In the past, the New York Aquarium mural has had design schemes that were aimed at grabbing the attention of bystanders with the use of colorful imagery and familiar aesthetics, like the Wonder Wheel mixed with various sea animals.

The previous artists laced in facts regarding the aquarium’s history and the importance of coral reefs.

Much of the foot traffic surrounding the mural will be headed toward rides.

The use of colors to attract attention to the piece may always be an effective strategy for artists to employ, but it’s also crucial that new designs speak deeper to viewers compared to simply being colorful.

The new mural competition allows artists free range to create imagery and emotion devoid of hard facts and statistics, which may lead to more eye-catching scenery and higher levels of appeal and appreciation.

Any interested artists are urged to visit for official rules and timelines for next year’s competition.

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