Josie Iselin
Duxbury Reef

Josie Iselin

Photographer, Author

the art in oceanography

meet josie

Josie Iselin is the author of books that combine the art and science of our oceans. Her writing and art focusing on seaweed, kelp, and sea otters, has put her on the forefront of ocean activism. She collaborates with scientists and groups working to preserve the kelp forests of the pacific coast. Through art, design and research, Iselin celebrates the marine flora and brings thoughtfulness and stewardship to this realm of our oceans. She holds an AB in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and an MFA from San Francisco State University.

the art in oceanography
Nominated by: Maggie Amsler FN'21
Class of 2022 Location USA
Josie at Bull Kelp Portuguese Beach
Josie at Bull Kelp Portuguese Beach Author: Tessa Kier

I have been using my scanner as a camera for twenty-five years. As a nature photographer, I am looking carefully at what I find on the beach or amongst the slippery rocks or in the tide pools, and then bringing select items and specimens back to my studio to scan. The images are not an end in themselves. They are part of a book design or a presentation or a public installation. They pull us into the complex natural history of the ocean ecologies.

My role as explorer, artist, writer and designer is to experiment with different media and different venues in order to connect a broad range of audiences to an aspect of the ocean that they might not have thought much about. This constant crossing of disciplines, from science to art to design, can change perceptions and shift our orientation. Can we have empathy for a kelp? That is the challenge I set for myself when telling its story. This can be initiated by cross-continental travel or from looking intently at what is right in our backyard. I have walked the same beach near my home at least once a week for thirty years. This beach has been my classroom, my muse and my mentor.

“This constant crossing of disciplines, from science to art to design, can change perceptions and shift our orientation.”

- Josie Iselin
Josie at Pinnacles Gulch
Josie at Pinnacles Gulch

There is a hunger right now to understand the natural world with increased nuance, and ecological and historical context. My work taps into this hunger by bringing together stunning imagery, a sense of design for different applications, and a deep knowledge of the natural history and science history behind the seaweed, kelp forest ecologies and the tide pools at shoreline.

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