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The Urchin Merchant

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Print Details

24 x 36inches
Signed & Numbered
Printed with ♥ by VGKids
Pink Edition

18-color screenprint on bright silver foil paper with metallic inks
Limited edition of 160

Rainbow Edition

18-color screenprint on rainbow holographic foil paper
Edition of 60

Lava Edition

18-color screenprint on holographic lava foil paper
Edition of 60

Gold Edition

18-color screenprint on dull gold foil paper with metallic inks
Edition of 40

Artist Statement
"The artwork addresses the declining health of the kelp forests off the coast of Northern California through anthropomorphization of the invasive purple sea urchin, the tiger shark, and the sunflower starfish, ecological signposts of the imbalanced ecosystem threatened by Co2 pollution and rising ocean temperatures. Drawing inspiration from the 80's-rich punk, skater, and surfer subcultures of Santa Cruz, this super-saturated trio of characters suggests the underlying struggle to counteract the adverse effects of global warming on the local kelp forests and welcomes the viewer to take part by consuming more invasive sea urchins, recycling, reducing their CO2 footprints and becoming further educated on the health of the local seascape.

Recent years have seen a gut-wrenching loss of a key urchin predator, the sunflower sea star, due to sea star wasting disease specific to rising sea temperatures - leaving the kelp forests of N. California without any predators of the urchins, voracious grazers of kelp. The area covered by kelp forests off the coast of Northern California has dropped by more than 95%, with just a few isolated patches of bull kelp remaining. Species-rich kelp forests have been replaced by “urchin barrens,” where purple sea urchins cover a seafloor devoid of kelp and other algae. Deterioration of the forest threatens local species, including the tiger shark. “It’s a naturally dynamic system that has been resilient to extreme events in the past, but the die-off of sunflower stars caused the resilience of the ecosystem to plummet. the kelp forests weren’t able to withstand the effects of the heatwave/El Niño combined with an insurgence of sea urchins.”

This artwork positions the "urchin merchant" in the center as a beacon of the sea star, vying for Its rehabilitation, buffeted by an urchin character/tiger shark character (who suffer from the deterioration of the kelp forest) challenging each other for balance. The Merchant holds an opened urchin, proposing one way in which humans can aid the battle to combat the voracious urchin population."
- Lauren YS
Artist Bio

Lauren YS is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work is influenced by multiple stages of focus, both geographically and in practice. With dynamic bouts in academics, literature and writing, teaching, illustration, and animation leading up to their arrival in the urban art sphere, the influences of these phases of their own career add up to a robust style of murals and fine art.

Lauren's work is influenced by dreams, mythology, death, comics, love, sex, psychedelia, animation, and their Asian-American heritage.

Lauren has completed a residency and solo show at Nychos' Rabbit Eye Movement studio in Vienna and has since shown work and live-painted at various international art festivals and institutions. Festivals include Art Basel Miami, Pow!Wow! Hawaii, PangeaSeed SeaWalls (New Zealand), Pow!Wow! Long Beach, Wallskar Festival China. Outdoor and indoor mural locations include the Long Beach Museum of Art and the World Trade Center in New York. They have shown work in galleries nationwide and in International cities, including Vienna, New York, London, Tokyo, and Melbourne.

The Story behind The Urchin Merchant

Lauren YS

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