Hawksbilled Sea Turtle © 2013 Monica Gunderson - All Rights Reserved; Unauthorized Reproduction Prohibited
About the Art.... Why Paint Sea Animals?
For some time, I painted and drew sea animals with a passion, and at times I still do when inspiration strikes. These creatures are beautiful and unique and deserve recognition. Several sea animals are endangered due to human contact, and what sparked my interest in painting them is the disaster from Japan's nuclear site, Fukushima, which had occurred from the earthquake in April 2011. This struck a chord with me because my hometown is located near Hanford, a nuclear site which was built next to the Columbia River in southeast Washington State.
Hanford was established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan project and was home to the B Reactor which was the first full-scale plutonium production reactor in the world. The plutonium manufactured was used to create the first nuclear bomb which was tested at the Trinity Site and was also used to make the atomic bomb, Fat Boy, detonated over Nagasaki, Japan during World War II on August 9, 1945. During the Cold War, Hanford expanded to include more reactors and plutonium processing plants which proceeded to create more nuclear arsenal as well as nuclear research. Unfortunately, early practices in nuclear waste disposal were inadequate being buried in unmarked areas throughout the Hanford Site. The plutonium production was shut down shortly after the cold War, but there is a large amount of nuclear waste buried throughout the area. Over the years, and even today, there have been multitudes of radioactive materials has leaked into the Columbia River, groundwater, soil, and even into the atmosphere within the Hanford Reach and surrounding areas, including cities such as my hometown, Tri-Cities Washington. Today, Hanford Washington is one of the most contaminated nuclear sites in the United States.
As in any city one grows up in, the schools tend to focus on what runs the economy within the area, the Tri-Cities economy is largely based off of the research at the Hanford Site. During my time living and growing up near this nuclear and testing facility site, I have learned to know and understand as well as seen firsthand the effects of nuclear leaks and hazards through teachings at school, school field trips to the Hanford Reach and Hanford Site as well as getting the chance to tour a (shut down) nuclear reactor, my own research, and my mother had also worked at the Hanford Site for some time.
In addition to nuclear waste which was released in our oceans from Fukushima, Hanford (via the Columbia River) and other nuclear facilities built nearby the ocean and other waterways, there has been copious amounts of garbage accumulating in our oceans for several years and there is currently a large island of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean called "Great Pacific Garbage Patch". This is disturbing because this garbage damages our oceans as well as the animals living in it and there has been evidence of sea faring animals ingesting garbage and dyeing from the accumulation of plastics within their stomachs. Our oceans hold the largest ecosystems on earth, generating over half of the world's oxygen and contain 97% of the world's water. It also holds a wealth of food source and materials used within medications, but the garbage, nuclear leaks, oil leaks, and other contaminants are ruining it, not only for the plants and animals that live within the oceans, but for us as well as those of the future. The knowledge and understanding of protecting our oceans and waterways is needed today, not tomorrow in order for our future generations' survival. We need to be ambassadors for the oceans, sea animals and plants before all is lost. I am in hopes my paintings will inspire people to be more cautious of our seas and oceans and look toward safe and renewable energy sources as well as resourceful thinking to improve and clean up the environment.