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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: November 22, 1999



Art, Science To Merge in "Imaging the Gulf" Exhibition and Competition

Gulf of Mexico Program logoArt and science will merge at the Gulf Coast Exploreum in Mobile, Ala., March 25-May 6, when a major exhibition, "Imaging the Gulf," will showcase university student artwork depicting the value of the Gulf of Mexico. Three thousand dollars in prize money is being offered for best of show and a logo category.

The exhibition is being held in conjunction with the Fourth Gulf of Mexico Symposium at the adjacent Convention Center. This year's April 9-12 symposium, "The Gulf of Mexico - a Resource for the New Millennium" will feature E. O. Wilson of Harvard, the Pulitzer-prize winning scientist who popularized the concept of biodiversity.

"Imaging the Gulf" is sponsored by the Gulf of Mexico Program, headquartered at Stennis Space Center, Miss., in association with the Gulf Coast Exploreum and with assistance from the Mobile Museum of Art. The Gulf of Mexico Program, a partnership of private groups, businesses and government agencies dedicated to preserving the Gulf of Mexico, is also co-hosting the scientific symposium with the Alabama Coastal Foundation.

University graduate and undergraduate students from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas are encouraged to enter up to five works each in the juried contest. Their task, said Gaye Farris, U.S. Geological Survey, Lafayette, La., chair of the art contest, "is to interpret some part of the Gulf of Mexico Program's message that the Gulf is economically valuable, aesthetically beautiful, environmentally important and culturally rich, and that we have only one Gulf of Mexico and need to be one unified community in protecting it."

She added, "We trust so much in the talent and idealism of our young artists to be able to depict how important our Gulf is to everyone. We also think that encouraging scientists, educators, students, business and industry to add an artistic dimension to their symposium experience will be valuable. Words and numbers can only do so much. Sometimes an image can powerfully reawaken us to see the Gulf in a new light and realize it's a treasure worth saving."

Works in any medium may be submitted. They must have been completed within the past two years and must be entirely original in concept. Each entry must not exceed 84 inches in any dimension including frame. Three-dimension works should not exceed 200 pounds. Works for the exhibition will be selected through the submission of slides of the artwork; slides are due Feb. 11.

The $1,500 best of show award will be given to an artist chosen solely by the exhibition juror, Rene Paul Barilleaux, Chief Curator at the Mississippi Museum of Art since 1993. Barilleaux previously was director of the Halsey Gallery, College of Charleston, S.C.; curator of exhibitions, Madison Art Center, Wis. and curator of collections and exhibitions at the Museum of Holography, N.Y. He received a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, in 1979, and a master's from Pratt Institute in 1981.

Barilleaux has organized numerous exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and alternative media; written, edited and designed related publications; and worked with institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the MIT Museum. His writings have appeared in "Leonardo Public Art Review," "The Creative Holography Index" and other publications.

Additionally, a $1,500 logo award will be given to an artist chosen by the Gulf of Mexico Program for work that can be used by any of the program's partners to depict a unified Gulf. Artists will also be able to sell their work to anyone attending the exhibition.

Another art committee member, Tom Ballou, of Reynolds Metals, Co., Corpus Christi, Texas, said, "Business and industry have been involved with the Gulf of Mexico Program for many years and are enthusiastic about participating in the imaging contest. Gulf Coast industry will be putting up the prize money, and I expect many of our Gulf Coalition business members to participate in other parts of the exhibition including the art sale.

"Our members frequently buy art connected with our activities and this will be another opportunity. I would not be surprised to see some of the entries became "tank art" at some of our Gulf Coast facilities. It's a great way to focus public attention to the Gulf and its resources."

Other committee members working on the contest are Susan Childs, Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Corpus Christi; Jennifer Griffin, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Jackson; and Terry Hines Smith, Gulf of Mexico Program, Stennis Space Center.

Smith said, "We hope this contest will get both universities and the art communities thinking about the Gulf. Our vision for the millennium is a Gulf of Mexico flourishing in all of its natural richness and variety.

"Beaches glistening in the sunlight, thriving coastal vegetation, and abundant fish, shellfish and waterfowl. The Gulf ecosystem is of incalculable value in itself, but our vision also embraces the human uses of the Gulf, which are part of the cultural fabric of the region and are critical to the economic well-being of the region and the nation."

Beth Turnage of Homewood, Ala., former assistant curator and registrar at the Mississippi Museum of Art, is coordinating exhibition entries. Herman Mhire, an artist from Lafayette, helped with the early planning of the contest.

As the nation's largest water, earth and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2,000 organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial scientific information to resource managers, planners and other customers. This information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters, to contribute to the sound conservation, economic and physical development of the nation's natural resources and to enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological, energy and mineral resources.

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