“Waves of Change” in the COA Office

As we head into spring, we are excited to share a new installation that is brightening our doorway- quite literally. “Waves of Change” is a permanent piece that brings the ocean into our office to demonstrate the beauty and importance of our nearby coastlines, made for us by St. George’s students Tyler Boone, Ray Ottiano, and Priscilla Zhu, under the direction of their art teacher Steve Totin.

Our collaboration with these St. George’s student artists started when, inspired by our mission, they conducted a beach cleanup along Second Beach in Middletown, and used the debris they found to create a large collaborative mural. The students displayed this mural, and individual wood prints they made following a visit to the Newport Marina Trash Skimmer, in a show this January at our office. The visual arts are an impactful platform to share information and inspire change and we were honored to showcase these impressive artistic works and environmental messages as part of our first “Students for the Sea” art show.

Student artists pose in front of their piece, “Waves of Change”, after its installation in the COA office.

The students’ artistic input didn’t end after the close of their art show. The bare material of the desk in our entryway sparked their interest, and they proposed crafting a permanent mural-type installation that would bring the coastal waters we love directly into our workplace. Under the leadership of St. George’s art instructor Steve Totin, three of the students used their talents to transform our entryway. Tyler Boone, Ray Ottiano, and Priscilla Zhu created “Waves of Change” in a multi-step process, starting with sketching the design on photos of the COA office front desk. The official debut of this piece will take place at our “Creations for the Oceans” gallery opening on Thursday, March 31 at 6:30 pm. Join us by registering here!

They drew big waves curving above the surface of the desk, designing them to gradually flow into the office space, like an invitation for visitors and guests. After the design stage, instructor Steve Totin and students Tyler Boone and Ray Ottiano worked in the St. George’s wood shop to cut out wave shapes from quarter-inch-thick plywood. Not wasting any scraps, they used the material between the bigger waves for smaller, chubbier pieces. Once cut out, Priscilla Zhu spray painted the pieces with a preliminary gradient. Because natural waves are usually darker on their face, Priscilla layered more spray paint on these areas. The inner wave pieces were more detailed, arising from Priscilla experimenting with different techniques. She painted tiny waves on the bigger pieces and spray painted them lightly to blend nicely while maintaining their shape. She also created depth by adding white foam to the tops of the smaller waves. 

When the individual wave pieces were finished, the installation process was an artistic process of its own. The most detailed waves were positioned facing the glass doors, with the remainder of the pieces moving along the curve of the desk. The end result is a gorgeous life-size mural that shares the artists’ love of the natural world and artistic passion with our community. We are grateful for their engaging, inviting design that embodies our origin and mission and welcomes visitors into the COA space.

We are proud of this partnership, and to display “Waves of Change” in our entryway. The installation’s formal debut will be a part of our Creations for the Oceans: Artists Supporting Clean Ocean Access gallery opening on Thursday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m. We hope you will join us to view this wonderful piece in person, as well as engage with local artists and maybe bring home a piece of your own.  Please register for your desired time slot through our website. We hope you will join us for this celebration of local creations.

The finished mural in the COA office.