Young Artists Illustrate Ocean Awareness

Share this:

By Hoiyin Ip, Special to the Independent

There will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050, according to World Economic Forum.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reported in May that “around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.” Youth are speaking up, rightly, on the environment they’re inheriting.

In honor of World Oceans Day on June 8, I’d like to share some youth art from Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs. These pieces were exhibited at the 2018 Green on the Green Newport Beach Eco Expo as a joint effort with the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club and City Arts Commission.

Jennifer Kim, 13, Irvine

“Through my research of ocean pollution, I was shocked by the sheer number of trash thrown away into the sea, as well as the thousands of dead fish from oil spills in the ocean. The pollution is symbolized by a sick-looking fish with a soda can body, to represent ‘sashimi’ on the plate that the food we eat ends up on. Around it are garnishes for the ‘sashimi’ which are trash, such as cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, and so on. The ‘soy sauce’ is made of petroleum, and there are ‘lemon’ garnishes of old tires. I used acrylic paint to emphasize the fish along with several other ‘garnishes’ on watercolor. Around the plate are old articles concerning pollution. I named this piece ‘Trashimi’ to reflect on the items from the sea that we will eventually consume, but also as ‘Trashme’ because the trash that we humans throw away just come back to us in a cycle.”

“Ocean Optimism”
Fiona Luo, 13, Cupertino

“During a recent school field trip to San Francisco, a sudden gust of wind blew my friend’s Ziploc bag away, in the direction of the ocean. When I pointed this out, my classmate replied: ‘Pollution is such a big problem that one plastic bag won’t make a difference.’ Having a negative outlook towards pollution, I decided, will not help us at all. In order to make progress in any task, we must first adopt a positive outlook. My artwork, created with color pencil, expresses the relationship between optimism and result. The people in the center, whose heads are full of clean water and living fish, represent those who view our ocean’s future positively. Those who have a positive outlook of our future ocean, whose heads are filled with beliefs that the ocean can improve, consequently endeavor to tidy and clean the beach, as can be seen with the cleaning supplies they hold. Their actions, which are fueled by hope, then impact their environment directly. This can be seen in the unpolluted ocean in the background. However, those on the left and right sides, whose heads are filled with negative opinions about the future ocean, do not take action, and as a result, their environment deteriorates.”

“Partying Above”
Irene Raeeun Kim, 12, Palo Alto

“My artwork represents human ignorance and shows how our mistakes can negatively affect the environment. The fireworks and flashy lights represent how we are sitting around going on vacations and enjoying our life ignoring all the bad around us. As we are ignoring these problems, more ocean spills are happening, and more debris is being swept into the oceans. The ships are luxurious cruise ships showing how we are able to sail the same polluted waters on fancy boats. Under the surface, the boats are shown leaking massive amounts of oil into the ocean, and plastic can be found at the bottom of the sea. Our ignorance on these problems is what prevents us from preventing the ocean pollution. My hope is that this artwork will be able to bring attention to oil spills and ocean debris. Since we are the ones that caused this problem, we have to be the ones to fix it.”


The 16-year-old climate activist and 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg said, “It is my moral duty to do everything I can. But also, when I grow up, I want to be able to look back and say that I did everything I could.”

My fellow adults—policymakers, businesses and consumers—how shall we up our effort for the ocean and children?

Hoiyin Ip is a Sierra Club member who resides in South Orange County. She is often recognized as “the plastic lady” for her cleanup work and public comments at local City Council meetings.


Celebrate World Oceans Day at Aliso Beach

The public is invited to join SoCal-based swimwear brand Vitamin A in celebrating World Oceans Day on Saturday, June 8, with a beach cleanup at Aliso Beach from 9-11 a.m. The company will be providing free beach parking for all volunteers (valid 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.). Parking passes will be distributed at the meet-up. Look for Vitamin A’s tassel umbrellas and signage. Aliso Beach Park is located at 31131 S. Pacific Coast Highway. To RSVP, visit

Share this:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here