Sea to Space Particle Investigation

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Mar. 03 2017

It has been a magnificent journey. Being surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on all sides for 25 days has deepened my connection to our water planet. Whenever on deck studying the blues of sky and sea, I also took a few deep breaths and grasped a sense of scale that I can not appreciate on land… how insignificantly small we (and our 300 foot long ship) are, compared to the expanse of the sea. I think every human would benefit from the perspective of the world when land is no longer visible on the horizon.

Kirsten’s view from Falkor: Sea as far you could see for 22 days.Kirsten Carlson/SOI

Roots Reconnection

This trip also reconnected me with my scientific roots. I was a marine biologist before I was an artist, so everything felt familiar, while at the same time it was a bit different. I was the Artist-at-Sea, not a scientist.

A page from Kirsten’s sketchbook and a view of the monitor she used to access the Imaging FlowCytobot information.Kirsten Carlson/SOI

It was fun and fulfilling for me on every level – I got the best of both worlds. The scientists on board and research we did resonated with me. It was a gift to be able to work alongside them using the same instruments.  My favorite instrument was the Imaging FlowCytobot, as its imagery provided the inspiration for my Artist-at-Sea piece, the plankton poster.

The diversity of shapes and sizes in phytoplankton is overwhelming and beautiful. I was able to see the actual individuals that were in the sea surrounding us all the way across the Pacific. Seeing them first-hand made me realize how interrelated all things are on this planet: they may be invisible, but they are important. We are dependent on them and they on us.

The Plankton Poster Kirsten produced while aboard RV Falkor during the Sea to Space Particle Investigation Cruise.Kirsten Carlson/SOI

Science Shift

I shifted from science to art to share the beauty and wonder in the natural world. My career path has been focused connecting others with nature through art—I began with scientific illustration, added graphic design to my skill set and then expanded into writing and illustrating children’s books. My observations about nature come through the lens of science.  I will forever be grateful for the 600 hours of experience as the Artist-at-Sea on the Sea to Space Particle Investigation. It will fuel my imagination, creativity and curiosity for the rest of my life.

Artist at Sea Kirsten Carlson and a sunset over the ocean.SOI

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