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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

CASSIE BRETAGNA

REMNANTS OF FLESH & BONE

Senior Project APRIL 2016

When most people think about the oxygen we breathe, the first thing that comes to mind is trees. Although trees are important for food, oxygen and habitats to many animals, there is one thing that people do not realize that is just as important in providing us with oxygen, food, protection, and habitats to thousands of animals, and that is the ocean.  The ocean is responsible for the water cycle making it possible for us to have fresh water and it also plays a role in absorbing a quarter of all of the carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere so it can thus, produce back oxygen. However, our oceans have become under threat due to our obsessive use of fossil fuels, overfishing, pollution, oil spills, and climate change which is causing warming seas, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and loss of species due to the astronomical amount of carbon dioxide caused by human activity.


Humans have had a negative impact to the environment, thus negatively impacting ourselves. Just as humans get diseases, so do the coral reefs. It is vital to remember that every drop of water you drink, or breath you take you are connected to the ocean, and in-turn, the coral reefs. My goal as an artist is to shed light on this serious matter and to make known that humans and nature are one and when we harm the ocean and coral reefs we are consequently, harming ourselves and the state of our planet as a whole.


As an artist I achieve conveying this tragedy through clay sculpture. Clay is a material that comes from the earth and shares some of the same chemical properties that the coral do as well as represent their fragility. Forms I used such as brain coral, are meant to symbolize a human brain to connect the ocean to the human brain as a metaphor that we need to start becoming more aware of what we are doing to ourselves and our planet. I hand-built all of my sculptures using minimal carving tools & used two firing methods. I used raku, which consists of taking the piece out of an 1800°F kiln and placing it into a dirt pit filled with combustibles. I also used saggar firing which consists of hand-building a brick kiln and filling it with hay & wood, adding in salt, then copper oxide and iron oxide as coloring agents and lighting it on fire. Both methods embrace taking beautiful, nature elements and throwing them into a fire, which I believe emulates what humans are doing to the environment.


The ocean has been an important place in my life since I can remember. It reminds me of all of the fun family vacations I had and the places I grew up around exploring. Many of my memories that I have with my family and friends took place while relaxing and enjoying all of the beaches wonders. The ocean and the coral reefs are dear to me and are worth protecting not only because their beauty and wonderful memories I have with it, but for the existence of our planet!