Our newest Affiliated Artist is Laura Walsh, a Southcoast diver and surfer who uses film to capture the sublimity of local breaks. Read the Q&A below to get to know the newest artist in the Alliance family!
Climate Science Alliance (Alliance): How would you describe your photography?
Laura Walsh (Laura): I shoot film photos of the coast that focus on what I think we love about it most — it’s purity, limitlessness, dynamism, and power. I am most focused on the way light reflects on water and the flow of color between water and air. Although my photos are intended to celebrate the purity of the ocean, I often include people who have a positive relationship with the ocean. I think people are generally aware and saddened by the tensions modern society has with the ocean, and this is a way of recognizing that people and coastlines still have positive commensal relationships.
Alliance: Your work focuses on the coastline — what is your relationship with it?
Laura: I am a surfer and diver so my relationship with the coast is one of dependence. I also research water quality and work in coastal adaptation planning, so a lot of my professional work centered around the fact that society is often at conflict with the ocean; this is especially characterized by climate change. I think it’s important we remember that the ocean has been able to retain so much natural complexity and intrinsic beauty.
Alliance: When/why did you begin using photography to communicate?
Laura: I moved to San Diego from inland Los Angeles and was just shocked at how deeply living by the coast affected my day to day happiness and overall life path. I really began shooting a lot of ocean scenes when I moved to Windansea Beach because it is just such a special and dynamic break that I get to wake up to each morning.
Alliance: Why do you use film?
Laura: I use color film because it is uniquely able to preserve natural color and light. Light on water can be difficult to capture, I'm especially interested in the special ‘glow’ that appears above water from phenomenons like sunrise and sunset.
Alliance: What role does climate change play in your life and your art? What was your "climate moment" - the moment that made you want to do something about climate change?
Laura: My climate ‘moment’ was more of a ‘season,’ when I kept getting small colds after surfing around Scripps pier. I attended a lecture about runoff, where a professor taught us that local coastal water quality was often bad enough to make people sick because of the way we manage pollution. I felt like this was a straightforward problem with clear management solutions that I could help address in my local community. “Climate” and “Water” are now literally in my professional title, so I do a lot of planning around water and climate change. I think in general the more you know about climate change the more negative your outlook becomes on its impacts. My art is about keeping things in perspective — the coast is still an awesomely powerful place worth protecting. I think my photos give a positive message about the ocean's resilience.
Laura's viewfinder is pretty much always pointed west. The Southcoast diver and surfer spends much of her time in the water near her home at Windansea Beach and makes frequent trips around San Diego County and to Baja to shoot color film photography. Laura uses film to capture the sublimity of local breaks as an homage to their pre-crowd condition, but also nods to the awe they still inspire in beachgoers today. Laura studied water quality and marine conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and currently works with local governments in San Diego on climate change planning and coastal resilience.
Meet our newest Affiliated Artist in person at her upcoming art show, "Depth Perception", a photographic exploration of our coasts from three perspectives. Laura will be joined by two other photographers who are also Scripps' alumni. Show information is listed on the flyer below:
Learn more about our Affiliated Artists here.