An exhibit of works featuring the traditional Japanese folk art style of gyotaku, or fish rubbing, is now on display in the Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

“Blue Heart: Beauty and Change Along America’s Western Shoreline,” by artists Dwight Hwang and Duncan Berry, will be on display through October 2022. The exhibit, sponsored by OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative and Hatfield Marine Science Center, is free and open to the public.

Gyotaku is a method of applying ink to the surface of the subject and placing lightweight paper on top and rubbing until the contours of the subject are transferred to the paper. Hwang creates classical gyotaku art using traditional materials, and Berry uses modern ink and application methods.

The 25-piece exhibit features pieces by each artist as well as works on which they collaborated. The collection reflects the power and beauty of the Pacific Ocean as well as the deep and lasting climate-driven changes occurring along the western shoreline.

In an artists’ statement, Hwang and Berry said: “For us, making these impressions directly from the bodies of creatures that frequent the land, sea and air along our coastlines is an ‘active form of reverence’ like a giant living Braille. ... And in doing so we get to witness the fascinating stories of their lives and the dramatic climactic changes they are adapting to everyday. 

“We hope that these images will connect you in a deeper way with the ocean and our relationship and responsibility to find ways to lessen the impacts of climate change.”

The Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building, completed last year, is a 72,000-square-foot classroom, lab and office building that also includes a 250-seat auditorium, a café and other public spaces.

In addition to the “Blue Heart” exhibit, the new building features a number of other works of art from regional artists commissioned through Oregon’s Percent for Art in Public Places Program, managed by the Oregon Arts Commission.

Among those works is “44°37’19.668” N 124°2’43.86” W (for Charles),” by OSU art instructor Michael Boonstra. The eight-panel piece combines photographic processes, digital manipulation, drawing and hands-on experimentation with water and environmental phenomena along the Oregon coast.

“This is Water” is an installation of 19 circular vitrines, or glass display cases, by artist Joe Thurston. They display imagery associated with the marine science campus and nearby bodies of water. The installation, in the first floor entry, the main stairwell and second floor mezzanine, features an infinity design, with images etched onto mirror and reflected with LED lights. The installation also features sound to accompany the images.

“Blue Heart” and other artwork in the Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building can be viewed during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Parking is available at no charge. State and university policies related to COVID-19, including requirements for masks in indoor public spaces, are in effect.

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