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Artist Spencer Keeton Cunningham on Ocean Awareness, PangeaSeed and his Collaboration with Volcom
Spencer shares his passion for ocean awareness, inspirations as an artist, his collaborations with PangeaSeed and Volcom, and more.
Spencer Keeton Cunningham is an American-born painter and artist originally from the Northwest and has been exhibiting works in museums and galleries for 15 Years. Using environmental and social issues, including Native American rights, as a means for his themed works, Cunningham works within large-scale mural projects as a medium, as well as film and sculpture. He is a member of the Colville Tribe with a reservation based in Northeastern Washington, where he draws much inspiration from.
Cunningham has been traveling on the road for the past three years on a self-proclaimed permanent painting adventure that has taken him all across North America, Alaska, Mexico, Tasmania, Canada, and New Zealand, along with a few other places. But this isn't his first rodeo. He's exhibited works across the globe that has taken him far and wide. From museums in Southern China, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, and San Francisco.
During a stay in Argentina in 2008 while making a film with his 16mm camera, he ran into a man by the name of Aaron Glasson, who is the creative director of PangeaSeed, a non-profit ocean conservation project. With their shared passion for ocean convservation, they instantly connected, eventually leading to Spencer participating in the "Sink or Swim" exhibit in Tokyo in 2011, where he met Tre Packard, the founder PangeaSeed. This revealed to be a long-lasting, mutual benefit for the two parties as Spencer would use his art as activism pieces for various PangeaSeed campaigns.
In 2016, alongside a group of 30 artists from across the globe, Spencer was apart of PangeaSeed's Seawalls: Artists for Oceans program to help spread awareness about pressing ocean environmental issues, such as shark finning, a serious issue plaguing our sea. What Spencer created on a wall in New Zealand made a very strong impact to the campaign and caught the attention of people worldwide:
Spencer's "Shark Fin Soup" mural highlights the immoral practice of shark finning where he's painted two sharks holding traditional Maori weapons behind their backs in attemps to trick the other into taking the bait.
As part of Volcom's ongoing sustainability efforts, and in collaboration with PangeaSeed, we have featured Spencer's "Shark Fin Soup" graphic tee in our sustainability collection:
Using art as activism at times, Cunningham's main goals are to: spread awareness concerning the environmental impact on the ocean in New Zealand, coral reef restoration and preservation in the Mexican Caribbean, supporting aboriginal rights in Australia, helping to paint in juvenile detention centers for imprisoned youth, and helping to raise funds for a Miami middle school’s arts and music program. Learn more about Spencer in our interview below.