exhibits: Ghost Net Landscape: Sea Stories

Fall 2020 exhibit in Portland, Oregon and broadcast online
Oct 1 - Nov 1 at Crema Coffee + Bakery   |   Oct 29 - Nov 21 at Community Warehouse
Jan 11-16, 2021 Five Oaks Museum Instagram collab

Breaking Out Sharky, Lehua and the Net Quicky and Bob Drunken Sailor Lavender the Bird Stormy: The Biggest Koi in the Japanese Garden Leafy the Sea Dragon The Life of Lady Dragon Face The Lion and the Mouse

In October 2020, the Sea Stories exhibit invited the community to become world-builders and storytellers in a socially distributed, publicly accessible installation in partnership with Portland Textile Month. Creating puppets from reclaimed fishing gear, participants told their Sea Stories of transformation for our lands and people in this collaborative art installation. Stories were filmed and broadcast in public window space.

Help Produce Season 2!

We are seeking distribution and funding partnerships to produce Season 2 with more of the diverse puppets and stories we have waiting in the wings! Click here to learn more.

How It Worked:

  • 90+ puppet-making kits were distributed free to the public, including reclaimed fishing gear and basic puppet / story guidelines
  • 25+ participants submitted their completed puppets and accompanying Sea Stories of creative potential and transformation
  • Community-submitted Sea Stories were filmed, subtitled, and broadcast in public window space and posted online. A total of 8 stories were released in 2020 as Season 1.

During this time of social and ecological transformation, Ghost Net Landscape: Sea Stories gives a voice to individual creativity and the power of collaboration, to create essential space for imagining new solutions.

"Creativity is a tool for all humans to gain insight, inspiration, self-awareness, collaborative skills, problem solving, even compassion and empathy.

Creative process is not separate from how we learn, but integral."

— Shere Coleman, Stage & Story Liaison

About the Exhibit

The physical exhibit was based at Crema cafe in SE Portland during October 2020. Alongside the community-driven puppet project, artists in residence created new work from a massive pile of reclaimed fishing gear - weaving, spinning, and sewing. The Undersea Garden collaborative installation of marine rope basket sculptures was featured inside Crema and visible through the main cafe window. The interactive installation We've Made Our Bed was featured on the pedestrian block outside Crema and included appearances by two Portland mermaids.

Following the exhibit at Crema, a sampling of Sea Stories artwork traveled to the "Community Collaboration" group exhibit at Community Warehouse in NE Portland. This exhibit featured work from Sea Stories and three other Distributed Community Projects (DCPs) hosted by Portland Textile Month. An accompanying panel discussion was held between all DCP leaders to reflect on their experiences.

In January 2021, Sea Stories was invited to collaborate online with Five Oaks Museum for a one-week co-creation of a brand-new Sea Story. "Leafy the Sea Dragon" was written, filmed, and published on January 16, 2021 with input from the Five Oaks Museum Instagram community. Click here to download a PDF of the collaboration on the Five Oaks Museum website.

Team Leaders

The Ghost Net Landscape series of collaborative installations are led by Emily Miller, an artist whose work is inspired by her love of the sea. Sea Stories is her third major exhibit of Ghost Net Landscape.

The Sea Stories puppet project was led by collaborating artist Shere Coleman, a puppet maker, storyteller, teacher and mixed media artist.

The Sea Stories weaving project and outdoor installation were led by collaborating artist Shelby Silver, an ecological artist, educator, and steward of the earth.

Note on Spanish translations

I have included multiple options for Spanish language subtitles. My first preference is for the gender-fluid and easily pronounced -e endings (Latine). I have also included subtitles with traditional -o and -a gendering (Latino and Latina).

Lady Dragon Face, puppet by Denni Chiavarini Lady Dragon Face, puppet by Denni Chiavarini. Reclaimed fishing rope, beachcombings, shell beads.
The Lion, puppet by Shere Coleman The Lion, puppet by Shere Coleman. Reclaimed fishing rope, cardboard, styrofoam, paint.
The Mouse, puppet by Shere Coleman The Mouse, puppet by Shere Coleman. Reclaimed fishing rope, wire, buttons.
Puppets live in a vast realm of possibility across time and culture.


Submissions closed October 30. THANK YOU to everyone who participated! We're filming your puppet stories for broadcast online!

All kits have been claimed as of October 17.
Thank you Portland for creating and picking up 90+ kits!!

About Your Puppets

Size: Puppets that are 24" or smaller will work best. We will be enacting your stories on a stage approximately 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall.

Movement: Imagine and play with moving your puppet through its story. What actions does it need to take? Is it only speaking, or is it moving on a journey? Hand puppets, string puppets, stick puppets, and simple non-moving creations are all appropriate!

About Your Stories

Length: Short 2-5 minute stories are best. (Sea Stories is a Puppet Slam!)

Puppetry is an ancient human way of telling a tale or creating theater. Imagine early cave paintings, earliest effigy artifacts, and ancient masks and ceremony. To this day we engage with puppetry the world over. Puppetry is playing make-believe, and letting the imagination run wild and free!

4 ways to return your Sea Story materials:

  1. By mail: Send your puppet characters and written stories to:
    SEA STORIES, 33 NW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
  2. In person: Drop off puppets and written stories during business hours at:
    Exhibit location: Crema Coffee + Bakery (SE PDX)
    Kat + Maouche (NW PDX)
    Primal Burger (SE PDX)
  3. Email or voicemail: written and spoken stories can be emailed to emily@ghostnetart.com or called in to the Sea Stories voicemail at 971 232-1362.

Download the Sea Stories Guidance Booklet: Web View or Printable PDF.
(Printed copies of the booklet are included in every materials kit and available at the exhibit space.)

© 2024 Emily Jung Miller fine art - Ocean-inspired artwork from Oregon & Kauai.