Constance Sartor, a University of Guam Master of Science in Biology and a Guam NSF EPSCoR Graduate Research Assistant, participated in the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Artist-at-Sea program over the summer, which provides artists an opportunity to work side-by-side with marine scientists during a research expedition.
From June 5 to July 9, Sartor spent 34 days onboard research vessel Falkor with 39 researchers and crew members as it traveled to the Phoenix Islands Archipelago, a group of coral atolls in Kiribati.
During the expedition, the Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) SuBastian descended as far as 2000 meters to collect deep-sea organisms within the Phoenix Islands Archipelago.
“When you’re in a shallow reef, there’s so much diversity like fish and corals but when you get down where there’s no light, everything is kind of like a desert,” said Sartor. “It takes a while to find a tiny coral. There are not many fish so it’s like a treasure hunt. It’s surprising when you find something cool.”
Sartor worked with the scientists to photograph and measure the samples collected by the ROV.
In preparation for the voyage, Sartor brought more than 50 magazines with her to create upcycled collages based on the photos of the samples.
“I advocate ‘upcycling’ because it helps keep some of the items out of landfills,” said Sartor. “Rather than using paint, which comes in disposable plastic or metal tubes, I like to give a ‘new life’ to magazines that would otherwise be thrown into landfills.”
Out of the hundreds of samples collected over the course of the voyage, Sartor created 8 magazine collages of the unique starfish, crabs, corals and other deep-sea organisms collected by the ROV using magazine images of flowers, a sunset, and clothing.
The body of works Sartor created are now a part of the Artist-at-Sea program’s traveling exhibit, which features art made and inspired by the work done on the Falkor.