Meet a Judge: Jen Clinton Lisi
February 9, 2018

Bow Seat Judges are artists, writers, teachers, filmmakers, scientists, and of course, ocean-lovers! Meet Jen Clinton Lisi, one of our Art Category judges for the Ocean Awareness Student Contest.

What do you do when you’re not a Contest judge?
My full-time job is with the Cape Cod Commission, where I focus on communications, economics, and online tool development related to balancing the environment and economy on Cape Cod. I’m also a watercolor artist, and my art focuses on landscapes, seascapes, and illustrations inspired by the New England coast.

watercolor painting

What is your favorite thing about being a Contest judge?
For me, the best part of judging the Ocean Awareness Student Contest was feeling inspired and hopeful about the future of our environment, seeing how many middle school and high school students are both aware of the the threats affecting the ocean, and also thinking of solutions to resolve them.

What is your first memory of the ocean?
I spent my childhood summers in Maine – my first ocean-y memories consist of scooping snails up in the Long Beach tidepools, boogie boarding until my lips turned blue, and ice cream cones at Nubble Light.

watercolor painting lobster

What or where inspires you?
I have a connection to the landscapes and seascapes of Cape Cod that has grown through my professional and artistic careers. The sea and sky have retained their New England wilderness, and the light looks different here, almost more delicate. The time I spend there saturates me with inspiration, gratitude, and perspective.

How do you think art can inspire awareness, empathy, and action for our oceans?
Art can be a major driver for conversations about our environment. In an age where science and truth are being tested, art is an important avenue for analyzing, growing, reinforcing, and honoring our relationship with nature. Art can celebrate nature’s beauty, but even more importantly, it can make you see your world and your place in it with fresh eyes.

What are some ocean-friendly activities you do in your daily life?
Skip plastic whenever possible! Say no to single use plastic (straws, shopping bags, produce bags) and carry your own reusable containers (drink cups, food containers, velcro snack bags). Once you start consciously trying to avoid plastic, it’s unsettling how pervasive it is.

tide pool marine debris

watercolor painting tide pool shells

What advice would you give to young people who want to protect the ocean?
Find a mentor in the field – maybe a teacher or scientist – that can help you navigate all the ways we can make the ocean healthier and stronger. It can be helpful to share ideas and focus on specific ocean issues, like marine debris or whale conservation, and then decide what impacts to make from there.


Jennifer Clinton Lisi is a watercolor artist and environmental economist living in Connecticut. She grew up near Boston and eventually moved to Cape Cod, where her interest in conservation and art converged. Her research and work focuses on coastal communities, working with stakeholders to balance environmental and economic issues. Jen’s artwork features coastal New England, love notes to home depicting indigo-rich seascapes and offbeat tidepool illustrations. She graduated from Fairfield University with a B.A. in Politics in 2009, and from University of Connecticut with her M.S. in Resource Economics in 2013.

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Meet a Judge: Jen Clinton Lisi