Born in Buenos Aires in 2000, Ely German is a young artist currently studying Art at UT Austin and exploring how she can use her art to create positive change. German’s work spans different styles, mediums, and conversations. Currently, she is using drawing, painting and animation to explore ideas about society, politics and our environment. Her work is surreal in nature and uses bold colors to create witty and often ironic critiques of modern society.
Most recently, her animation “In Our Hands” won first prize in the Bow Seat International Competition, a competition for young artists using their creativity to spread awareness around issues impacting our ocean.
We would love to hear about the beginning of your journey as an artist and activist! What do you love about the ocean? How did you start incorporating this into your work?
The ocean intrigues me for the same reasons people are intrigued by other planets. The ocean is deep and mysterious, it never fails to catch my eye and spark my curiosity.
I believe that every person is born an artist, the challenge is to remain one. I have been an artist for all of my eighteen years, and intend to continue being one for the rest of my life. I can’t label a moment where my journey as an artist ever “began” because that implies that before I was not an artist. However, I was empowered to become an artist/activist by “Bow Seat Programs”. I was always making art and when I started high school, Bow Seat programs inspired me to channel my work towards ocean advocacy.
Can you tell us about your award-winning animation piece, “In Our Hands”? What about hands spoke to you as a symbol through which to spread a message of ocean conservation?
“In Our Hands” is a hand drawn, frame-by-frame, watercolor animation. For every second of video there are ten drawings on show. The animation features two hands, a green one and a red one. The green hand represents caring, environmentally conscious humans who go out of their way to protect our ocean. In contrast, the red hand bullies the ocean into darkness. This darkness harms ocean life and destroys color… But the horrors caused by the red hand’s reckless actions can be reverted! A paintbrush unleashes a chain reaction that removes the darkness and returns vibrating color to ocean life. Today, we have the ability to fix the horrors we’ve caused, but we won’t have this chance for long. We must take action fast before the damage becomes irreversible!
How do you see the role of artists and activists intersecting? Are there any people from both worlds who inspire you?
Artists take actions that set chain reactions. An activist is a person who campaigns for change, so many artists are activists because their goal is to inspire and create change.
Alyssa Irizarry, the program director of Bow Seat, inspires me as she educates and speaks on behalf of the ocean. I admire her dedication and passion for environmental advocacy and art. Her work in Bow Seat inspired me to intertwine my artwork with ocean advocacy, without which my work may have never crossed paths with activism.
Ely, as a young artist, what are the hopes that you have for our ocean’s future?
As depicted in my animation “In Our Hands,” I believe it is still not too late to save the ocean. I am hopeful that the efforts of organizations like Bow Seat and artists/activists like myself are not in vain. I hope to see the average mindset become greener, less wasteful. Simple actions like avoiding plastic bags can be life changing for marine life, quite literally!
Check out the following links for more of Ely German’s art!
YouTube: Ely German
Author: Carola Dixon