KELP! - 836m



EXHIBITION DATES: 05/25/2022 - 12/08/2022



Kelp! was a collaborative exhibition between 836M, Erol Foundation, and the Above/Below project. Featuring six months of programming centered around bull kelp, the foundational species of California’s coastal marine ecology, this exhibition aimed to bring art and science together to inspire wonder, activate visitors’ curiosity about bull kelp, and catalyze action to protect our forests of the sea.  

The gallery was transformed into an immersive environment featuring prints on textile by Josie Iselin, cyanotypes by Ann Holsberry, kelp sculptures by Lina Jane Prairie, prints by Laurie Sawyer, a tondo by Tiffany Bozic, and a stunning mural by Ellen Litwiller in the adjacent office space. As part of the programming, regular ‘seaweed science consortium’ calls were hosted by the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank NMS, and other events centered around rebuilding ocean resilience, inspiring climate action, educating about policy, and experiencing kelp-based food. 

Kelp forests form the foundation of California’s coastal marine ecology and are crucial climate regulators. Unfortunately, the ocean forests along California’s North Coast have declined since 2014 due to a convergence of natural factors and human impacts on the oceans. Globally, kelp forests are critical for biodiversity and climate mitigation but are disappearing fast.

As an exhibition at 836M and as robust programming of events, Kelp! focused on building public awareness for an underrepresented flora of our near-shore oceans. The artwork served as a guide into the science and policy issues surrounding kelp forest restoration efforts and aims to grow a culture of ocean stewardship among the public.

With this exhibition, one can go beyond the talking points and ask deep questions about the bull kelp forest’s complex workings and realize that we can learn not only about seaweeds but also from them: their resilience, their resourcefulness, their poetry, and magic.

About the Artists


Josie Iselin

Josie Iselin is a photographer, author and designer of numerous books exploring our coastal universe. Beach Stones was published in 2006; Beach: A Book of Treasure in 2010; and her visual primer on seaweed, An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed, was published in 2014. Iselin continues her explorations into the world of marine algae in her most recent book, The Curious World of Seaweed (2019), winner of the Tiffany Award from the Phycological Society of America and shortlisted for The Northern California Book Awards and The Alice Award. She holds a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and an MFA from San Francisco State University. Her writing and art focused on seaweed, kelp and sea otters put her on the forefront of ocean activism, collaborating with scientists and groups working to preserve the kelp forests of our Pacific Coast. Through art, design and research, Iselin celebrates the marine flora and brings thoughtfulness and stewardship to this realm of our oceans. You can often find her on various coasts at low tide exploring tide pools and investigating the intertidal realm. For more information, visit


Ann Holsberry

Ann Holsberry is an artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work celebrates the inherent beauty of the natural order of things from the microscopic to the cosmic. As an artist with a background in law and the healing arts, she explores interconnections in nature using mixed media and the experimental photographic process of cyanotype. She often works outdoors in direct collaboration with the forces of nature using materials sourced directly from her surroundings. She has had solo exhibitions at the Morris Graves Museum of Art (Eureka, CA), and the de Saisset Museum of Art (Santa Clara, CA), among other venues. Her work has been exhibited and held in collections nationally and internationally, including the UCSF Cancer Medical Center and the Stanly Ranch Auberge Collection in Napa, CA. She has been awarded numerous residencies and grants.


Lina Prarie

Lina Prairie is an artist whose practice for more than 15 years has centered on twining and weaving bull kelp experiments. Her creations are both sculptural and utilitarian. Based in Point Reyes, she sources her materials – driftwood, rope, kelp, roots – along the Point Reyes National Seashore. She teaches classes, participates in group shows and opens her studio to the public twice a year. Prairie developed a curiosity about the natural world as a child growing up in Minnesota. She moved to the Bay Area in 1966 to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She has a background in Slavic languages and literature and early childhood education.


Laurie Sawyer grew up on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. Today she lives in Northern California, where her family runs a business growing shellfish in Tomales Bay. Working primarily in life drawing, Sawyer’s interests are the concern and care for the ocean. She has a BFA from the Art Center College of Design and, more recently, a Graduate Degree in Science Illustration from CSU Monterey Bay.


Tiffany Bozic is a California artist whose work evokes the tradition of tightly rendered nature illustration, which she explodes with highly emotional, surreal metaphors. Not so much departing from reality as articulating it more deeply, Bozic makes paintings in which a faun can simultaneously be alive and dead. As nature is ever more subjugated by human impacts, Bozic corrects the balance sheet. She establishes inescapable chains of consequence among the myriad species whose interactions create the world. The complexities of natural processes like death and decomposition percolate through pictures of otherwise shining life. Painting on masked and stained maple panels with watered-down acrylic, Bozic summons the grain of the wood into her compositions. With her ornithologist husband and school-aged daughter, Bozic spends significant time in wild places, the rhythms of which are evident in her vision. The subject of several solo exhibitions and included in many group shows across the country, Bozic is at the forefront of artists today who are redefining the aesthetics and imperatives of global change. Her work has been collected in two books published by Gingko Press: Drawn By Instinct (2012) and Unnatural Selections (2019).


Ellen Litweller

Ellen Litwiller approaches her art with a scientific narrative through observation and appreciation of the world we live on and the universe we live in. After graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Litwiller returned to the Bay Area to work in the Natural History Museum exhibit industry as a muralist, illustrator, model maker and exhibit preparator. She has painted murals for the Smithsonian museums in Washington DC, Chicago’s Field Museum, the Papalote Museo del Niño in Mexico and the California Academy of Sciences, among others. She’s a founding member of the Fortnight Collective based in San Rafael, and she has exhibited her work widely around the Bay Area.


Film still from the immersive experience Above, Below by the Coldwater Collective

Forests above and below sea level are disappearing at an accelerated rate globally, and California is no exception. This piece is aimed to draw attention and stewardship to California’s unique and irreplaceable underwater kelp forests that have experienced catastrophic loss in the past decade. This piece was written and supported by scientists at The Nature Conservancy and was filmed and produced by the Coldwater Collective. To dive deeper into this subject, filmmakers Justin Lewis and Sashwa Burrous will release a longer-format documentary in the future. 

A film by Coldwater Collective with support from Coriolis Films

Directors: Justin Lewis and Sashwa Burrous, Coldwater Collective

Editor: Michelle Olivera

Cinematography: Justin Lewis and Sashwa Burrous

Sound Design: CLEOD 9 Music

Narrator and Writer: Tristin Anoush McHugh, The Nature Conservancy

Co-writers: Patrick Webster @underwaterpat, and Norah Eddy, The Nature Conservancy


June 13 Kelp! In an effort to raise awareness and find solutions in the areas of climate action, ocean stewardship and environmental equity, an exhibition in…

30 Things to Do This June: Honor Juneteenth, SF Pride Returns, the Obama Portraits at the De Young and More

June 01, 2022

It’s no surprise Tiffany Bozic’s meticulously detailed paintings feature all sort of animals, fish, and other critters that share our planet.

Our place in nature: Larkspur artist aims to connect humans and animals through her paintings

May 31, 2022