Artists We Love

Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape by Alejandro Durán

Alejandro collects the international trash washing up on the Caribbean coast of Mexico and transforms it into aesthetic yet disquieting art works that wake us to the threat of plastic pollution. Through photography and installation, his long-term project “Washed Up: Transforming a Trashed Landscape” examines the fraught intersections of man and nature, revealing the pervasive impact of consumer culture on the natural world. Durán also engages audiences through community-based environmental art-making and speaking engagements. As National Geographic’s Becky Harlan said, “A gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage site has a serious problem with ocean trash, and artist Alejandro Durán wants to inspire us into action.”

Born in Mexico City in 1974, Alejandro is now based between Brooklyn, New York and Sian Ka’an, México, where he continues to gather trash for the project. He received an MA in Teaching from Tufts University and an MFA in poetry from the New School for Social Research. As an educator, Durán has taught youth and adult classes in photography and video at The Museum of Modern Art and The International Center of Photography. His media production company, Luma Projects, includes clients such as MoMA, Microsoft, UNICEF, and the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

Durán received a 2019 Creative Capital Award, Art With Me Tulum’s 2018 Social Impact Award, and was Hunter College’s Artist-in-Residence in 2014-15. His work has been featured at the Mt. Rokko International Photography Festival in Japan, the Fotografie Forum in Germany and Basta con la Plastica, Italy’s first Ocean Awareness Week. “Washed Up” has been published in National Geographic, Time, and The Huffington Post as well as the books Art & Ecology Now, Unexpected Art and Photo Viz, among others.

John Dill

John Dill was raised in the Caribbean, where he fell in love with the ocean. He's been fortunate enough to visit the magnificent “Big Blue” throughout his travels and document the people that love and protect it. From 2014–2016, John was very lucky to spend his time with Susi Mai and Bill Tai, founders of Mai Tai Global. A group of like-minded entrepreneurs in tech that found a common interest in the extreme sport of kiteboarding, networking and ocean conservation. With them, he helped brand and photograph Mai Tai events, including “The Ocean Gala.” It being a fundraising event to support ocean conservation, co-created with the Ocean Elders. There he would meet inspiring ocean enthusiasts like Sir Richard Branson, Dr. Sylvia A. Earle and the late Rob Stewart. John was blessed to visit beautiful kiting locations including Maui, Cabarete and Necker Island.

John’s photos also spotlight Bali and Cape Town. And even a few puddles in New York City, where he lives now. We hope you enjoy his art, photography and music, including an ocean related set from “The Ocean Gala 2015.” That's where Dr. Sylvia A. Earle spoke to John his most favorite quote of hers... "Even if you never have the chance to see or touch the ocean, the ocean touches you with every breath you take, every drop of water you drink, every bite you consume. Everyone, everywhere is inextricably connected to and utterly dependent upon the existence of the sea."

Lady Rey

Rachel Naomi Appel, known artistically as Lady Rey, is a journalist, artist and truth-seeker working on global creative projects and initiatives. As evidenced by her most recent work, "The Dark Side of Tulum" – A captivating yet unsettling assessment of Tulum’s ecology and how the Mesoamerican reef is at risk.

Revealing hidden realities within our society, Rachel’s art encourages self reflection in hopes of fostering a shared sense of humanity – no matter how divergent or diverse our concerns are. Featured in numerous publications including New York Magazine, Mind Body Green, Films For Action and The Beam Magazine, she is provoking enlightenment and illuminating topics that are often controversial and misconstrued.

Rachel holds a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies and a Master's Degree in International Journalism.

Jacob Qualls

Originating from South Carolina, Jacob Qualls’ story started with the release of the iPhone 3, his porch, a thunderstorm and a rarely captured bolt of lightning. That day eveything changed. If a camera phone could do that, what could be done with a real camera?! Thus, a Nikon for Christmas grew into an obsession with band photography. The many Nikons then turned into Canons, and a profession following touring bands like Third Eye Blind, Thomas Rhett and Corey Smit further blossomed.

But Jacob’s true calling emerged with an invitation to shoot a swoop of Wood Storks by conservation photographer and friend, Daniel Riddle. That day at Iris Gardens, his conservation story began the minute he photographed a Juvenile Wood Stork feeding on a plastic soda cup lid. That was when Jacob began his crusade against plastic in our waterways, shooting the outrages of our plastic planet and its many watery examples. His work has been published by the Professional Photographers of America, SCELP, Berkeley Outdoors, The Sumter Item and Visit Smokies, to name only a few.

Caroline Power

Born and raised in Louisiana Caroline Power is an avid diver, underwater photographer and conservationist. Her passion for the water was ingrained in her from an early age. She learned to swim before she could walk and was gifted her first underwater camera at the age of 14. She strives to show people not just the pretty, remarkable, and stunning life found in marine ecosystems but also the dangers it faces. Colorful coral landscapes elegant whales, vibrant tropical fish. Those are the images people want to see. The reality is most of those subjects are under threat. Many are silently disappearing. By photographing the destruction humanity has unleashed on the ocean she hopes to invoke emotion stirs passion and inspire change.

For the last several years, her focus has been highlighting the global ocean plastic crisis. Caroline has been based on the island of Roatan, Honduras for the last decade where she works with several NGOs in the region on coral reef and marine conservation. Her work has been featured in numerous publications and documentaries including those by Planeta, Le Parisien, BBC, and National Geographic as well as in exhibitions in Europe and South America.

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