Ethan Estess Currently Showing Works at CCB

Ethan Estess Currently Showing Works at CCB

About the Artist:

Ethan Estess (born 1989) is a Santa Cruz-based artist and marine scientist who communicates about the challenges facing the ocean through sculpture, printmaking, painting, and performance.  He travels extensively for his work as a marine biologist and draws on these experiences to inspire his creative works.  He holds bachelors and master’s degrees in environmental science from Stanford University where he studied oceanography, mechanical engineering, and studio art. Estess has participated in several art residencies, including the Recology program at the San Francisco landfill where he constructed a life-size whale tail sculpture from reclaimed rope that was later displayed for millions of viewers at the San Francisco international airport.  His artworks are currently exhibited in public and private collections in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Estess operates a studio and gallery in Santa Cruz while continuing to work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium studying bluefin tuna ecology and conservation. In 2016 Estess founded Countercurrent, a non-profit that engages communities in issues of ocean sustainability through science-based public art installations.

Surfgrass/Surge (2016). Acrylic on paper


About the Artwork:

In this series of works I have drawn inspiration from my travels in Japan, where I work each summer studying bluefin tuna for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. One day I was visiting a Shinto shrine and I took note of the way flowing water is represented through the Zen rock gardens. A visit to the local tackle shop got me interested in gyotaku, or fish printing, where ink is applied directly onto a fish and cloth is pressed onto it to create a relief of the specimen. I also combed the beaches, finding no shortage of commercial fishing rope and netting tangled up in the high tide line.  Back in my studio on the Monterey Bay I synthesized these experiences into the artwork presented here, painting on reclaimed rope, net, washed up seaweed, and single-use coffee cup lids to capture their impressions on cloth.  I hope this work engages viewers with its dynamic aesthetic and encourages them to meditate on biodegradation, permanence, and the effects of plastic pollution on ocean wildlife.

“Oshio no. 2” (2017) Reclaimed fishing rope on wood panel. 4ft wide by 3 ft tall


Artist Contact/Sale Inquiries:



Instagram ethan.estess.art.science

Gallery Address:

15 Ingalls Street, Santa Cruz, CA