Thousands of Student Artists Globally Speak Up for Our Blue PlanetJune 24, 2021
10th Annual Ocean Awareness Contest
Status: complete! ✅
What a journey it’s been! Despite facing an unprecedented worldwide pandemic and a disrupted school year, and grappling with racism and police brutality, students raised the bar yet again by submitting nearly 6,000 works of art to our 2021 Contest from 98 different countries and 49 U.S. states!
Global map of youth artist participation in the 2021 Ocean Awareness Contest.
Map of 2021 Ocean Awareness Contest participants from the United States.
Clearly, today’s youth understand that while the world may sometimes feel like it’s coming apart at the seams, water is the glue keeping it all together. Protecting this life-sustaining element means protecting our livelihood and our future.
The 2021 Ocean Awareness Contest: WATER RISING challenged young artists from around the world to create artwork highlighting their connection to water and communicating the need to sustain and conserve this vital resource for current and future generations of life on Earth.
The theme expanded our traditional focus on marine environments to include water in its many forms, making it relevant to broader and more diverse groups of students who may not feel a connection to the ocean.
This year, we also offered programming around two new prizes: the We All Rise Prize (WARP) in partnership with Boston-based artist and educator Jason Talbot, and the Voice of the Sea Award (VOTSA) with New York City-based poet, activist, and educator Tayllor Johnson.
Featuring a webinar with our WARP Committee members, we encouraged youth traditionally underrepresented in conservation efforts, but most affected by environmental threats, to share their water stories.
In response to the growing number of spoken word poems being submitted to the Contest, our VOTSA programming in partnership with Tayllor explored the importance of performance poetry through webinars, workshops, and tips and tricks across our social media.
The 2021 Contest was also a special one for us because we were able to witness just how far we’ve come since our first Contest 10 years ago, which received 68 entries. On our 10th anniversary, we’re celebrating how much our community of young creative ocean advocates has grown: over the past decade, more than 24,000 individuals shared work spanning across mediums and reflecting the styles, cultures, and perspectives of 134 countries!
Much of this growth would not have happened without all of the educators, parents, and partners supporting our participants and spreading the word about our annual Contest. Thank you for encouraging young people to rise up for water!
While the 2021 Ocean Awareness Contest has closed, the celebration has only just begun. For the next few months, our awesome crew of judges—artists, writers, environmental scientists, historians, marine educators, poets, filmmakers, composers, science communicators, classroom teachers, and even Bow Seat alumni—will be discovering this year’s entries with delight and putting much time and care into reviewing them. Winners will be announced mid-November!
In the meantime, we’ve got some amazing opportunities for students and educators. Stay in the loop and be the first to hear about the launch of the 2022 Contest this fall by registering for our newsletter and following us on social media:
Featured Image: 2021 Contest participants from Belhaven Middle School in Linwood, New Jersey