Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gratitude and Solidarity Fish

If you haven’t seen any of the Solidarity Fish “swimming” around Florida in the last year you have been missing out.  What began as an artist’s (several artists actually) response to the overwhelming public outcry over the ecological collapse of the Indian River Lagoon in 2013 has become a far-reaching phenomenon. They have been from the Everglades to Washington, D.C., from the steps of the Capitol Building in Tallahassee to the cover of major Florida newspapers and in the New York Times.  But what is really spectacular about these fish is that regular folks, old and young, are the creators of these beautifully powerful images.

The recipe is simple:  a thin wooden fish is blank on one side while the other side is white skeletal remains on a black background.  Enter the volunteers who turn the blank side into a vividly painted, one of a kind masterpiece.  When they are displayed together they become a monumental public art installation that connects participants and passers-by in a most powerful way.  These two-sided “turn it around” fish display both what is lost and what can be found again if the state comes together to solve our water quality crises.

The fish have been formally mounted outside the Blake Library (Martin County), the Elliot Museum, the Stuart News building, and the Florida Oceanographic Society (to name a few), and inside Stuart City Hall.  They have been waved in parades and carried or displayed at nearly every grassroots action focused on protecting the estuaries of the Greater Everglades in the past year.  

The fish have become a single image that says it all for activists working on Everglades restoration: 
"Stop the harm
Buy the land
Send water south
Fund it now
Save the estuaries
Save the Everglades"

But they are not only a message for South Florida.
  When activists from all over the state gathered at the Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration Campaign first annual We Want Clean Water Rally last February, the fish spoke for all of Florida’s imperiled waters as they bejeweled the Historic Capitol steps under the feet of the state’s most devout clean water activists.  And when President’s Park in Washington D.C. is alight this December with Christmas trees representing every state in the nation, Florida’s tree will be covered in Solidarity Fish labeled with the names of our most iconic, but endangered, waterways.

You can find more photos, news clips and videos on the Solidarity Art Facebook page and the Solidarity Fish website

If you want to be a part of a campaign to bring Solidarity Fish Projects to other parts (your part!) of Florida please email cris.costello@sierraclub.org

Artist and illustrator Janeen Mason, the muscle behind the Solidarity Fish Project, would love to work with anyone interested in spreading the "fish"!  

You can't help but be thankful for Solidarity Fish!