We had the good fortune of connecting with Mo Wise and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mo, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I am deeply inspired by the connection between art and science. I am a formally educated marine scientist, but have always held an admiration and passion for the abundance of art that is found within the scientific realm. There is a connection between art and science in that both crafts are trying to better understand, see, or experience something more profoundly. I really appreciate the use of art in the understanding and communication of science. Without artistic renditions or interpretations of the natural world, there would be a major gap in understanding our world around us. I see science and art as holding hands. In my experience, I have grown from studying algae/seaweed in the laboratory setting to showcasing the intricacies and beauty of seaweed in my art. I have found that appreciating the natural world through art can also inspire others to love and care for nature in a more intimate way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a wetland scientist for the Irvine Ranch Water District in Irvine, CA. I manage a network of urban treatment wetlands that help filter and clean urban runoff before that runoff reaches the ocean. This work directly impacts the health of our coastal ocean environment and I think that aspect is what I am most proud of! I went to UC Santa Barbara where I studied marine biology before I attended Moss Landing Marine Laboratory up in the Monterey Bay for graduate school. The path that lead me to where I am today was definitely not always easy. I had many ups and downs (and failed classes too!) with moments when I questioned why I had chosen the path I did. I can happily say that I didn’t decide to choose another career in times when I felt like I was failing. Instead, I realized that sometimes doing what you love is the most important decision of all. Failing, getting up and moving forward is the best lesson I have learned on my path to where I am today. I also love incorporating my love for science and seaweed into my artwork – that really fills my cup! I am finally able to donate a portion of all of my artwork proceeds to Moss Landing Marine Laboratories where my love for science really blossomed.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would absolutely take them to the beach. I live in Dana Point and I would take them to Strands beach right down the street, then go get some coffee at Coffee Importers and walk around the Dana Point Harbor. Afterwards, grab some fish tacos at the Shwack Beach Grill and head down to the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano to visit the farm and the farmstand. After that, we might walk around the Los Rios District in San Juan and finish the day with a sunset surf at San Onofre – perfect day!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and especially Kenneth Coale and Michael Graham who guided and mentored me through my graduate studies where I truly fell in love with seaweed and marine science. Also, my mom and dad who introduced art (my dad is an artist) and science (my mom is a scientist) to me at a young age through their hands-on lifestyles.
Instagram: @saltyandwise / @mo.wise