“The coral reef is a microcosm of a macrocosm,” says paper artist Rogan Brown. “What is happening to the reefs today will ultimately happen to the planet tomorrow unless action is taken.” Through new paper sculptures comprised of delicately fringed sea creatures, Brown (previously) creates a striking visual display of the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis on marine life, showing how issues like coral bleaching can radiate outward into the wider world.
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In “Ghost Coral,” two circular reliefs comprised of intricate paper cuttings splay outward, layering the fragile lifeforms sliced from stark, white paper. These monochromatic pieces contrast their vibrant counterparts, which are nestled into the protective center of one of the masses. The other work, titled “Coral Garden,” is Brown’s interpretation of the heat-resistant organisms that scientists grow and plant in deteriorating patches for rejuvenation, and he places bright, healthy creatures, which are enclosed in transparent bubbles, within swaths of spindly, pale creatures. To create both pieces, Brown follows the same meticulous process, which involves drawing the organisms, cutting them out with a laser, and carefully hand-painting and mounting them into their final, sprawling forms. “The fragility and delicacy of paper seem to fit perfectly with the subject it is describing,” he tells Colossal.