Karen Ristuben  
 
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Synergy

An exhibit at the Museum of Science, Boston created in collaboration with Synergy

February 16 through May 2013

EggExplore the planet's last true frontier – the ocean – and encounter swirling currents traced in light, mysterious seascapes rendered in paint, and delicate marine life etched in vibrant color. At Ocean Stories you will find works of art by a unique collective of artists and scientists, infused with a sense of exploration and discovery that is common to both disciplines alike.

Eight professional artists were paired with ocean scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

MOSThe artists and scientists were challenged to translate across disciplines and formulate a shared voice. This dialogue motivated the scientists to consider their research through an aesthetic lens, and the artists to develop new visual strategies for communicating science in engaging ways. The result is a creative expression of cutting-edge oceanography.

Imbued with a sense of exploration and discovery, these works emerge from an inquiry-based pursuit that is common to art and science alike. They present a commentary on the multifaceted nature of both scientific research and artistic expression, as well as the broader implications that these have for society as a whole.

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A summary video of "Just, one word...", my 45-minute performance lecture on the complex issue of marine plastic pollution and public health.

"Just, one word..." Addressing the issue of marine plastic pollution from an artist/educator's perspective, I offer a different way to represent and communicate the hard scientific data currently the focus of many marine scientists, toxicologists, epidemiologists, and policy-makers. My project deals with our use, over-use, and disposal of plastics, their toxicity, and their effects on our public health. Highlighting the issue of marine plastic pollution and its impact on ocean ecosystems including the marine food chain, I use a multi-media performance/lecture format, using my own and archival video and photography, presenting the facts and data in an aesthetically compelling format. My message is made personal by my personal story, including my voyage in July 2011 through the North Pacific Gyre with a leading science team from Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

and a few testimonials:

"Experiencing the performance/lecture "Just one word…" left a lifetime impression. On November 15th she gave a public performance of the speech at the NOAA in Gloucester, and it was one of the most intense, and inspirational experiences I've had. Marine plastic pollution is a worldwide issue that we are all guilty of. Ms. Ristuben presents the important environmental issue of marine plastic pollution through photography, video, sound, and archival images, addressing it through the various lenses of marine science, economics, politics, and our consumer culture. The presentation made a lasting impression on me and it has helped me to become a less wasteful person as a whole. I think that this presentation touches all people and connects to everyone's life, challenging them to become a more active appreciative citizen of the world. When I was sitting in the presentation I was appalled at how little I knew about such an enormous issue; id never even heard about it in school. The knowledge I gathered during that presentation has and will follow me forever."
Caitlin O'Donnell, 11th grade, Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School

"Ocean Alliance is very familiar with the process of telling stories to effect change, telling stories about the plight of our oceans has won us an Emmy, and participation in a 2010 Oscar winning 2010 documentary. It is with great pleasure then that I write this letter as an endorsement of Karen Ristuben’s stunning environmental performance piece “Just one word”
"Even though the ocean’s cover 71% of our planet people seem very disconnect from them, I find it interesting that even Henry David Thoreau noticed this “We do not associate the idea of antiquity with the ocean, nor wonder how it looked a thousand year, as we do of the land, for it was equally wild and unfathomable always. We desperately need people like Karen, who can not only give a great performance but who at the same time can engage people at a personal level to effect change with regards to ocean conservation.
"Karen’s performance is in many ways revolutionary, she combines, art, science, music and philosophy in a captivating 45-minute performance that you cannot help to be moved by.  She makes an offshore issue personal – which from our perspective is the only way to effect change.  At the presentation I attended Karen spoke to an age group that probably spanned 6 decades, yet everyone was rapt and many had tears in ther eyes at the end.  Rarely do I come across someone who ‘gets it’ and can ‘get the listening’ as well as Karen.  I have no doubt that after leaving her performance people were educated and motivated to personal growth. Her presentation is an absolute must see – don't miss it.  I plan on going to see it at least one more time!"
Iain Kerr, CEO, Ocean Alliance

"A TRASHY evening at the Northeast Regional Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service on the evening of November 15th was a great success with marine debris exhibits and a powerful and touching multi-media lecture presented by Karen Ristuben. It was the most well attended public event yet at our office with over 120 people in the audience. The audience was riveted to their seats not knowing what additional piece of interesting and disturbing information about marine debris would emerge with each passing slide or video clip. After well over 100 slides and commentary from Karen she ended with beautiful and sad song that simply melted the crowd in place. When she was done and asked if anyone had any questions....not a person flinched. I think half the crowd was working to prevent tears from running down their cheeks. A number of people actually told me this was the case. The moment was ripe for nothing but silence in their seats..Karen had said it all. Certainly one of the most moving and valuable presentations about impacts to our local and world environment as I have seen. Great job Karen!"
Eric Hutchins, Fisheries Biologist, NOAA Restoration Center, Gloucester, MA

"Karen Ristuben's performance lecture, "Just one word...", should be required viewing for every middle school, high school and college entering classes. Not only does she make one of the great intractable environmental threats of our time accessible, she makes a profound argument for change, and does so in a way that combines academic rigor with an artistic vision that is sure to move audiences." Thomas Christopher Greene, President, Vermont College Of Fine Arts (August 2011, Vt. College of Fine Arts)

"Karen Ristuben's presentation on the problem of plastics in the ocean is simply phenomenal. She delivers the latest science in a beautifully written, photographed and videotaped program. I found the experience illuminating, emotional, and inspiring to action. And to top it all off, Karen sings. Wow!" Sinikka Nogelo, artist and retired Executive Director, Cape Ann TV (September, 2011, Cape Ann Museum)

"Ms. Ristuben does more than enter into the ongoing conversation of marine or oceanic pollution; she illuminates it so brightly it can no longer be ignored. With the keen eye of an artist who clearly values the waters off Gloucester to those half a world away, she aptly blends many mediums: art, music, research, narrative, and political activism, to bring to light the environmental catastrophe happening all around us." Ray Pape, English Faculty, Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School (October, 2011, Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School)