Art and Science Series: Elyse Quartini
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?)
I grew up on the east coast learning to swim in lakes, pools and the Atlantic Ocean. Neither of my parents were swimmers so my sister and I started lessons when I was 3 and joined the summer swim team when I was 4. We played either in the pool or ocean all summer and through most of my childhood I swam on winter teams during the off season. I never really saw a lot of surfing growing up, I started to learn to surf when I lifeguarded on Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. I’ve always had a healthy respect for the ocean, but the hurricane swell there taught me much more.
What’s the hardest line of the wave to draw, figuratively or literally?
Do you totally surrender to the currents and the water’s power or do you really just follow its lead? Or maybe for me the question is how to frame my mind so that I trust it’s working with me. Being in the water for me, means weightlessness, which brings freedom and movement. Freedom to move your body without restrictions, feeling the power of something so big and fierce but so soft and gentle. Even when it can be argued the water is working against you, that’s all probably a matter of perception at that moment.
Introduce yourself, what is your science or art?
I am a doctor of physical therapy and I specialize in surf injury rehab and prevention. I’m working with researchers at CSUSM to further our understanding from this perspective. I work with Fulcrum Surf to further my knowledge of surf techniques and to help surfers implement what they are teaching, especially if someone has a mechanical issue or limitation. I also take in-water surf photos. I love surfing because the movements are so unique and beautiful. It is like NO other sport. It incorporates athleticism AND grace AND nature. Incredible.
How do you incorporate science as an artist or art as a scientist?
Honestly my favorite part of surfing is watching it. I love to dissect the movements and understand how it is happening, which patterns and muscles are controlling a top turn or why that hip isn’t more flexed and how can we help that. Or why is that trunk not able to turn left fast enough; is it skill, stiffness, weakness? It’s fascinating to me to be able to analyze and change these movements. And when you’re able to change the mechanical problem it improves the grace and agility of the movement as well.
What’s the hardest part of being an artist/scientist for you?
Focusing on one thing at a time. I get too excited and distracted. It helps to have other people to work with to help reign me in.
What do you wish every swimsuit had or didn’t have?
I like swimsuits that stay put. I don’t want to worry about it slipping up or down or coming off. And I don’t want it to be too tight. I love swimsuits, that when you are in the water, you feel like you have nothing on.
What makes you feel sexy?
Feeling like I have nothing on.
Do you have any mantras that bring you up when you’ve reached a road block or when you’re feeling down?
I try to imagine everything the way I would love it to be and think as though that is my life right now. Even if some of those goals are for some time in the future, I feel more motivated and grateful as if it is already the reality.