Art and Science Series: Farrah Powell

Tell us the story of your ocean love affair. (How did you first meet? When did you fall in love? How does the ocean make you feel?)
My love for the ocean started with surfing. I grew up surfing in Huntington Beach, and since day one, I knew it would be a life-long passion. Surfing has taken me all over the world, from Mexico, to Central America, to Indonesia, to Australia, and beyond. But surfing was just the beginning of my ocean love affair. I also spend countless hours free-diving/scuba diving in the ocean every week. The ocean makes me feel whole and alive; it is rejuvenating, addicting, powerful, mysterious, all-encompassing, and magical. The ocean is my home. 

Introduce yourself, what is your science or art?
I am a Marine Biology PhD student studying the effects of ocean warming on coral reefs and fisheries. Sylvia Earle (one of my idols) once said: “No ocean, no life. No ocean, no us.” We are all beneficiaries of the ocean, and society’s everyday actions threaten our life-support system. I am committed to protecting our oceans and to raising awareness of our intricate connection to our planet’s blue heart. 

How do you incorporate science as an artist or art as a scientist?
Often times, science can be complex and impersonal. Juxtaposed images of the beauty and degradation of our ocean are very powerful and speak to the gravity of societal dilemma we face. Once every few months, I partner up with another PhD student and create posters with juxtaposed images (such as the image below) to show to students from preK-12. Art is such an important tool for expressing and communicating science. 

What’s the hardest part of being an artist/scientist for you? 
Balance. I deeply value balance in life. My passion for science and research can be all-consuming at times. 

What do you wish every swimsuit had or didn’t have? 
As a large-breasted woman, I am always on the lookout for a swimsuit that can support and contain my boobs in a sexy way. A one-piece suit that I can wear for surfing, ocean frolicking, and diving is a dream come true. 

What makes you feel sexy? 
Taking risks and proving myself wrong. 

Do you have any mantras that bring you up when you’ve reached a road block or when you’re feeling down? 
Life is like a box of chocolates. 


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