Georgina Kreutzer: Protecting the ocean through creativity
As we enter the second year of the United Nations Ocean Decade, we also enter a crucial time for science and sustainability efforts to join and advocate for a healthy and protected ocean.
But it's not just scientists fighting this battle. Artists and creatives alike are also at the heart of change, using their creativity to cut through the noise, connect with communities and inspire action. As part of Adobe's #CreateWaves campaign in partnership with The Ocean Agency and UNESCO, creatives from around the world are visualising what the ocean, and the importance of its conservation, means to them to help drive meaningful action.
Australian mixed medium artist and illustrator Georgina Kreutzer is joining the movement and championing ocean conservation and protection in her latest work.
We spoke with Kreutzer about why ocean conservation is so important to her and how communities around the world can come together to #CreateWaves.
The importance of the ocean
Growing up in coastal New South Wales, environment conservation has always been a priority for Kreutzer: "It would be unusual to grow up in the Northern Rivers region of far north NSW and not be cognisant of the beauty and fragility of our environment. In this very beautiful corner of Australia, it seemed there was an ever-present community-wide sense of responsibility to care for it."
And while today there is a greater responsibility toward climate action, there are still a number of concerning factors contributing to the climate crisis: "At the focus of these is the health of our oceans, which determines the balance of our entire planet," Kreutzer says.
For Kreutzer, there are endless reasons why ocean protection is important. As a producer of over 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe, our health as humans is entirely dependent on a thriving ocean, as is the planet we live on. The ocean works hard to stabilise global temperatures, absorb climate change heat and provide the food and water we need to survive. Yet still, many people aren't aware of this, and if they are, they don't know how to make a difference.
"It's incredible that the health of our oceans determines the health of all life on earth,” Kreutzer notes. “It's our largest carbon sink, the largest generator of oxygen, and a powerful moderator of the climate."
"There's a lot of weight on our shoulders - finding a balance is tricky when time is running out for our oceans. We must act urgently, starting as individuals, one day at a time."
Using creativity for good
When it comes to advocating for change, scientists raise awareness with facts and figures. Creatives, on the other hand, can transform these points into imagery and visuals - something that is emotive and inspiring.
When asked about the connection between art and advocacy, Kreutzer says: "I think the artist Claes Oldenburg was right when he claimed, 'Art is a technique of communication, the image is the most complete technique of communication.' I'd like to expand on that - art has the power to inform, to shape collective thought, to generate and inspire communities."
In her own work, Kreutzer is committed to aligning with her moral beliefs and considerate in what she shares with her community, finding joy in spreading awareness around important issues and advocating for change. Such is true for her recent work for the #CreateWaves campaign.
Using pencil, watercolours and pastel paper - before refining in Adobe Fresco - Kreutzer’s self-portrait sees her semi-submerged, "Ophelia style", illustrating "the sense of dependence and interconnectedness we collectively have to the ocean."
Kreutzer notes she consciously created her ocean portrait with softness - and without threat - to symbolise humanity in harmony with the natural environment. In doing so, she reminds her community with positive reinforcement that a healthy ocean is integral to the human experience.
"As an illustrator and artist who shares what I make on a global and virtual stage, I take joy in knowing my work can both be a starting point for conversation and a model for positive environmental advocacy," she says.
Everyone has a part to play
Making up 71 percent of the earth, the ocean is the largest - and entirely Global - body of water, connecting people across the world, regardless of differences and distances.
There are many ways our daily actions can contribute to ocean conservation, which is why we all have a role to play - no matter how big or small. For Kreutzer, this materialises not only in her artworks but in her processes in which she focuses on sustainable practices, partnering with and investing in NGOs and conscious everyday choices.
Kreutzer emphasised that, "we must get past the mental paradox where several billion of us think ‘I won't make a difference, I'm just one’.”
“But if you are surrounded by friends and family who respect you, or young people who look up to you, taking action when you are presented with new information absolutely generates ripple effects into a resounding groundswell.”
Whether it's changing behaviours or using creativity to advocate for the ocean's protection, everyone can play a part - and there is no time like the present.
Create your own ocean-inspired self-portrait and share it to your social media account with the hashtag #CreateWaves. Need some inspiration? Check out the Ocean Agency’s Creative Toolkit for raising ocean awareness here.