In a conversation with Global Coralition: Art, Climate Change & Action.


In a conversation with Global Coralition: Art, Climate Change & Action.


The Global Coralition is a 501c3 for-benefit organisation* born out of The Art Rising, a project created to use art as a tool for social and environmental change.

“Through The Art Rising — say Angeline Chen and Kyle Block (founders) — we were living in Southeast Asia, collaborating with Burmese, Thai, and Cambodian woodcarvers, using collaboration and creativity as the lens through which we could learn about their social and environmental climate.

We swam in the ocean every day in Southern Thailand and lived amongst Burmese people working there. Upon learning about the Burmese Refugee crisis and Coral Reef degradation, we developed two projects tackling these issues.

The Global Coralition was created after discovering the unprecedented rate at which coral reefs are dying, their integral role in our human survival, understanding the barriers we face in achieving scalable restoration and developing creative and collaborative solutions to overcome them.”

We are the Global Coralition, uniting science, art and community to save our coral reefs.

Angie and Kyle

Angeline Chen and Kyle Block (founders of The Art Rising).

*A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code.

501(c)(3) tax-exemptions apply to entities that are organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, for testing for public safety, to foster national or international amateur sports competition, for the prevention of cruelty to children, women, or animals.

Below, you can find an inspiring and intriguing interview with the founders of The Art Rising written by HOO KOO E KOO.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge right now?

A: The greatest challenge we face as a species now is climate change.

A problem we face as individuals is that once we understand the problem, we don’t know what we can do.

How can I make a difference? Only a small percentage of our population is actively tackling climate change. I think a great challenge ahead is how to engage our society, local and global, to become educated, empowered, and active participants in solutions.

In terms of coral reefs, the problem comes from our CO2 emissions and warming of ocean temperatures, which is traced back to our fossil fuel dependency. Each region may face additional challenges such as overfishing, dynamite fishing, hurricanes, storms, nutrient, and chemical runoff. Understanding what causes coral degradation can allow us to target both the source of the problem and restoration.

We have lost 50% of our corals in the last 30 years and are estimated to lose 90% by 2050.

Corals support 25% of all marine life. Marine organisms produce over half of the oxygen we breathe. Coral reefs absorb 97% of wave and storm energy, protecting our coastlines.

Scientists estimate 200 million displaced climate refugees. 2.6 billion people living within 100 miles of tropical coasts are projected to increase to 4.2 billion by 2050.

Coral reefs are the rain forests of the sea, the foundation of marine life, they provide food, livelihood, medicine, and work opportunities to billions of people worldwide, worth $375 billion per year. The world tourism market traded $1.9 trillion, while the fishing industry traded $26 billion. Many islands and villages completely depend on reef tourism to support their economies. Experts predict hunger, poverty, and political instability as the livelihoods of entire countries are at risk. Without coral reefs, there could be a rippling ecosystem collapse.

Current restoration efforts are mainly ocean-based and low-funded. According to experts, the rate of restoration is far behind the rate of degradation.

The latest breakthroughs in science are land-based coral farms which are a controlled environment to apply methods that can increase resilience, growth rate, and biodiversity while protecting them from storms and warming events before they are ready to be out-planted. Google X Co-Founder states that these methods are the best chance we have to restore coral.

Q: What is the mission of Global Coralition?

A: The mission of Global Coralition is to scale current coral restoration efforts worldwide with an exportable, self-sustaining model of Science, Art, and Community.

The power of Art engages the senses, brings people into the felt experience, and inspires thinking, engagement and even action.

Through this, we promote the latest breakthroughs in science: land-based coral farms and create alliances across local organizations to collaborate and exchange knowledge.

This marriage of art and science comes in the form of immersive underwater sculptural gardens paired with land-based coral farms. These farms allow us to have a species bank of corals on land and practice breakthrough methods that grow corals faster and more resilient than in nature. The sites will become awe-inspiring, educational action centers that are locally empowered and self-sustaining.

We develop frameworks for local and global participation to increase funding and participation to each site.

coral garden

Underwater coral garden. These land-based farms can grow resilient coral at scale practising methods such as larval propagation, assisted evolution, and micro fragmentation.


Photo credit: Mote lab. Microfragmentation accelerates growth rates up to 50 times faster than in nature. Assisted evolution allows corals to be trained to withstand higher temperatures and acidification.

Q: What have you done so far in 2018?

A: We built a 12x18x10 foot sculptural reef in Koh Tao, Thailand. Our sculpture is named Mazu, a goddess from 190 BC in East Asia. She represents a healthy interaction between humanity and nature.

Global Coralition team

Global Coralition team building Mazu in 2018. The total installation holds 5000 coral transplants, part of a mile-square artificial reef site. It raises funds and awareness for local reef restoration.


Watch the video to see Mazu underwater here.

Sculptural reefs attract coral growth naturally and can be designed for coral to be transplanted on. They become new habitats for marine life, increasing biomass by 200%. They attract eco-tourism, engaging the public, increasing awareness, and generating revenue. People can adopt corals and learn to transplant coral into these gardens.

The DMCR of Thailand recognizes the importance of coral reefs, they are now protected by the government. They are currently seeking to launch a nationwide effort to restore coral reefs. We aim to support bringing our model of art, science, and community to support the country’s restoration efforts.

floating mazu
mazu closeup

Q: What is the plan for the next year?

A: In January 2020, we are launching our project in the Dominican Republic. We will be building what may be the tallest underwater sculpture in the world, inspired by Atabey: Mother Earth Spirit of Taino, the indigenous people of the land. She will be with a series of sculptures placed to serve both as a reef break to protect the coast as well as a new habitat for coral.

We are working closely with local schools, elders, divers, environmentalists, fishermen, artists, musicians, and politicians. We engage the community at large to raise awareness for ocean conservation. We seek to lift both social and ecological circumstances together. As overfishing is the main cause of reef degradation here, a future initiative will be working with fishing villages to transition into coral and mangrove farms, sustained by community participation and ecotourism. We hope to work closely with hotel developers who occupy most of the coastal land to develop effective reef breaks while restoring mangrove and coral reef coverage. The majority of coral reefs have died in the Dominican Republic. In the next 30 years, if we can bring marine biodiversity back, it will be a huge win for us all.

Throughout the year, we will be taking steps to bring this project to other regions around the world currently including Hawaii, Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, India, and Belize.

sculpture project

Q: How will HOO KOO E KOO and Global Coralition work together?

A: HOO KOO KOO is a founding partner of the Global Coralition aiming to save global water ecosystems through art, science & local communities.

HOO KOO E KOO and Global Coralition will collaborate on a digital platform for education and participation. Our website will be an interactive, playful, inspiring, and empowering portal that can offer anyone the tools they may want or need to join the movement.

Q: Why do you believe that the aspect of art is important for the development of sustainable projects?

A: Art is the universal language. It brings people together. It has the ability to advance ideas by striking emotions. It reaches parts of the brain that rational thinking cannot. It is a gateway to transformation.

Gus Speth said:

“I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science, we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy. To deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation, and we, scientists, don’t know how to do that.”

Scientists have answers for the environmental damage issues. To apply and scale them effectively, we need to get creative. We need visionaries, risk-takers, entrepreneurs, influencers, and leaders.

underwater scultpure

Artists have led the way for centuries, casting visions into the future, the world follows. Art is the tangible connection to the spirit, the realms of impossibility, imagination, and hope. Artists create to understand, explore, and challenge what is possible. That makes us very similar to scientists. To bring the two together will be a force to be joined. It is important that social and ecological healing will come hand in hand and that organizations work together as much as possible.

Q: Is there someone who are you hoping to work with?

A: In each region, we work in, we are most eager to collaborate with local ecologists and restoration experts. We admire those dedicating their lives to restoration and who understand the local ecology best. By learning from them, we explore how best to offer our model to scale efforts, together.

We are eager to work with local youth. We seek to inspire a new generation of conservationists, transferring knowledge that can empower the community.

We are eager to work with incredible artists and musicians around the world; some of our favourites are Daniel Popper (South Africa), Yuan Liang Xing (China), and Richard Macdonald (California). We seek to set up a framework for artists all around the world to bring their work underwater with us.

daniel popper sculpture

One of Coralition Artists bringing their art into the Ocean in 2020, Daniel Popper.

Lastly, we hope to engage the world out there virtually. We seek to communicate the need for change and open doors for participation. It is important to know that our actions matter; from the food we eat and products we use to the initiatives we can support.

Q: How can people help?

A: There are many ways to help us:

  • Support our Dominican Republic project at

  • Subscribe to our mailing list and reach out if you want to join us for the project.

  • If you are connected to a reef restoration effort somewhere in the world, please reach out and we would love to collaborate.

  • If you want to support through our artwork, you can purchase art or wearable art at

  • Follow us on Instagram @globalcoralition

  • Learn as much as you can and talk about it. Share this project with your community.

  • Apply the knowledge into your life in some way.

  • Share our project with your friends.

Thank you.

Thank you for reading!

The interview was initially prepared by Sophia Yushchenko. The version that is visible to you as an article was curated and written by Justyna Cyrankiewicz.

With love, HOO KOO E KOO