UC Santa Cruz has been awarded a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support Blue Trail: Imagination and Innovation for Ocean Sustainability--a series of interactive visual and sonic art installations that will be spread out across the San Francisco waterfront.

The campus is one of 886 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an Art Works grant from the NEA.

Art Works grants support the creation of art that “meets the highest standards of excellence,” including public engagement.

Blue Trail is a collaboration between Jennifer Parker, associate professor of art and founding director of UCSCs art-science research center OpenLab, and Lisa Zimmerman, founder of the San Francisco-based public art consulting firm, 7Story. The project will employ innovative art and technology to create immersive interactive art works about ocean ecology.

Blue Trail began in 2012 when a jury of professionals in art, science, design, and technology selected a series of art works for the project from a group of 30 proposals submitted by curator Laura Cassidy Rogers. Funds from the Art Works grant will be used to develop Blue Trail workshops and exhibitions, a smart phone app, website, and the inaugural project, Oceanic Scales.

Oceanic Scales—which will be installed on Pier 39, one of San Francisco’s leading tourist attractions--will enable visitors to explore their role in maintaining a balanced ocean ecology through multi-sensory, interactive games inspired by the microorganisms of the sea.

“The NEA is pleased to announce that the University of California, Santa Cruz, is recommended for an Art Works grant,” said NEA acting chairman Joan Shigekawa. “These NEA-supported projects not only have a positive impact on local economies, but will also provide opportunities for people of all ages to participate in the arts, help our communities to become more vibrant, and support our nation's artists as they contribute to our cultural landscape."

UCSC Arts Dean David Yager noted, “These funds will further our commitment to increasing public awareness of environmental sustainability through participation and engagement in arts research. Associate professor Jennifer Parker’s work is perfectly situated for this grant, as her collaborative art-science center, OpenLab, is committed to interdisciplinary research.”

“The grant is also an excellent opportunity to springboard the interdisciplinary work of our faculty and the launch of our Institute of the Arts and Sciences,” Yager added.

The Arts Division at UC Santa Cruz offers creative and critical studies of art and culture at the undergraduate and graduate level. At UCSC, instruction in the arts is designed to inspire and develop the capacity for individual and collaborative creative inquiry, analysis, and action--within and beyond the university. The faculty includes artists, historians, critics, performers, and theorists working across the arts in a global context.