Sea Change | See Change

Noonan Gallery

If artists and museums use their platform to raise awareness about climate impacts on our oceans, perhaps we will see change. Featuring the work of five award-winning visual artists, Daniel Baxter, Jeffrey Blondes, Zoe Matthiessen, Samantha Schwann, and Matthew Wood, and poet Sandy Carlson, this exhibition explores the world’s oceans with a focus on the Arctic. In a variety of media, including painting, photography, video, drawing, and sculpture, the artwork in this exhibition celebrates the beauty of our oceans and the tragedy of their degradation. By tempering a dire message with beauty and humor, this exhibition makes a clear case for protecting the ocean.

More about this exhibition

Interested in doing something to help protect the ocean?

Donate to Mission Blue, the organization with which artist Samantha Schwann works most closely.

For the month of April (Earth Month), the Mattatuck Museum’s Chief Curator, Keffie Feldman, and artists, Matthew Wood and Samantha Schwann, are pledging to Mission Blue $1 for every person who buys admission to the museum.

“Putting our money where our art is”

“My images shed the constraints of the underwater environment and invite viewer to get curious about the ocean.” Samantha Schwann

Samantha Schwann is an underwater photographic artist whose work concentrates on ecologically unique areas of the ocean. With her photographs, Schwann raises awareness about ocean ecology and contributes to the increasingly urgent conversation about global climate change. The images here are from a three-year project documenting “Mission Blue Hope Spot” locations, special areas considered to have a critical impact on global ocean health. Photographed using a mix of scuba and breath hold, these photos capture important areas for shark conservation in Mexico, Costa Rica, and French Polynesia. As a keystone species, sharks play an essential role in ocean health.

Schwann began diving in 1994 off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada and progressed to earn advanced instructor ratings in both recreational and technical diving. While originally trained in sculpture, Schwann turned to photography in 2010. In 2022, she was elected as a Member National into The Explorer’s Club, a professional multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the scientific exploration of land, sea, and space.

“Art is how I interact with the world.” Matt Wood

Matthew Wood is a multidisciplinary artist who processes the world around him through a wide-ranging body of work. The paintings, photographs, and sculpture in this exhibition were inspired by his first encounter with icebergs on a 2017 trip to Iceland. To Wood, icebergs became a metaphor for what we fail to see because most of their mass lies beneath the surface of the ocean. Icebergs also became a potent expression of global climate change as they are formed by melting glaciers. To Wood, icebergs are simultaneously awe-inspiringly beautiful and desperately sad.

Wood has lived in Woodbury, CT for over two decades. His first inclination to become an artist was in 5th grade when his social studies teacher suggested that his drawing of the Egyptian Pyramids should be in a textbook. He received a degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Iowa and studied at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. In addition to his artistic practice, he works with interior designers to decorate homes with murals, custom floors, bespoke finishes for fine furniture, and specialty woodworking.


Keffie Feldman:

The question at the center of the exhibition Sea Change | Sea Change is: if museums and artists use their platform to raise awareness about climate impacts on the ocean, will we see change? This initiative is a way for visitors to learn from the exhibition and support the Mattatuck Museum, while at the same time contributing to an organization on the front lines combating climate change. While the overall scope of the climate problem is huge and, perhaps, overwhelming, each small, individual action contributes to the greater whole. I hope that all visitors to the exhibition will be inspired and empowered to make changes – big or small – to help preserve the worlds oceans.


Image Credits: 

  • Daniel Baxter (American, b. 1965), Emperor Penguins, 2023. Ink/carbon pencil on a map of Antarctica. Collection of the artist.
  • Jeffrey Blondes (American, lives in France, b. 1956)  Summer Solstice: 24 Hour Film, 2006. Collection of the Artist.
  • Zoe Mattiessen (American, b. 1971) Brothers from Another Mother, 2017. Ink and watercolor on paper. Collection of the Artist.
  • Samantha Schwann (b. 1977, Canadian living in USA), Rush, 2017. Photographic Print. Collection of the Artist.
  • Matt Wood (American, b. 1961), Alone, 2023. Oil on Canvas. Real time. Collection of the artist.