TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Colleen Flanigan

Colleen Flanigan

Socio-ecological artist

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Colleen Flanigan

Professional Role

Current Titles:

Artistic Director, Maker, Project Coordinator, Creative Director, Stop-motion Armaturist, Conceptor, Metalsmith, Interactivist

Current Organizations:

Living Sea Sculpture, Global Coral Reef Alliance, Miss Snail Pail


Flickr Photostream


Nokia Responsiveness - Colleen Flanigan

http://www.nokia.com/responsiveness Nokia Solutions empower us to respond better to the people in our lives, to new ideas, and to fresh perspectives on how the world can work. And what we say when we respond helps define who we are as individuals and as a community. Colleen Flanigan is a visual, performing and environmental artist, who is known for her large, 3-D steel "drawings" woven with wire by children in large group projects. Watch this film about her response to the destruction of coral reefs and see how you respond.

View video on Youtube »

View video on Youtube »

View video on Youtube »

Colleen Flanigan: The Future is in the Past

View video on Vimeo »


Living Sea Sculpture
01/04/2011 – present
Living Sea Sculpture: Contemporary Art as Coral Refuge is now in its second phase- From the Shore to the Seafloor: Living Sea Sculpture deploys. The large steel sculpture inspired by DNA was made in Cancun, Mexico, in 2011 thanks to the wonderful support through kickstarter, the Harnisch Foundation, and Bertha Philanthropies. It will be electrified with low volt direct current to become a Biorock® reef, raising the pH to precipitate limestone and alkaline benefits. We received funding to add webcameras to give the project a continuing online presence. A filmmaker is documenting the project so we can share process and intention with those who never get near the ocean, but will be inspired that art and science are uniting for marine ecology. Not a biologist, I spent time at Sea Horse Aquarium in Portland learning hands-on about coral behavior, species propagation, and Biorock® in a closed-system so I can understand more intimately the colorful colonies I want to revive. In addition to taking practical action to provide and protect coral ecosystems and ocean biodiversity, I want to use multiple streams of art, technology and media to communicate scientific observation, universal "truths," and humanitarian concepts in provocative artworks on land. I am developing an exhibit that brings human health and coral health into stark juxtaposition....very excited about these projects and the many layers of disciplines, people, and content intertwining to realize this art and science collaboration. Focusing on artistry and eliciting an emotional connection in viewers, this work invites innovative solutions and questions, creativity and positive action.
Project Website »

Miss Snail Pail
02/10/2004 – present
Miss Snail Pail is a snail abatement specialist ridding your garden of "pests" and remembering the protein and iron rich micro-livestock available in many backyards. Miss Snail Pail is a performative "business" and has been documented by Golden Bear Casting in a short doc., "On the Trail with Miss Snail Pail." Screenings at 4 environmental film festivals, including the 2011 Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City, CA, the largest environmental film fest in the US. Miss Snail Pail is a complementary interactivist alter ego to Amphitrite, goddess of the sea. In their (my) effort to have fun while engaging people about snails, coral, art and the ocean, these characters are microcosms, conversations that I am curious to co-create with the public. Rather than the facts on paper approach to big issues that can distance us from action, I like the face to face spontaneity that jolts us into discovering how we personally have power to do what we choose: eat snails and make escarglows (candles) out of the shells= A healthy alternative to pesticides. Miss Snail Pail shines light on one simple way to live in a world dependent on chemicals and convenience.
Project Website »

04/13/2012 – 04/13/2012
On April 13, 2012 TEDxMonterey “Sea Change” explored our diverse human connections with the land and the sea in order to inspire innovative conservation measures, dynamic discussions, and heightened awareness. A natural fit for Monterey—a widely recognized epicenter of marine policy and science, this year’s theme, “Sea Change,” invited presentations about creative, collaborative, and multidisciplinary intersections that are shaping our relationship and our understanding of why and how our oceans are changing.
Project Website »

? – present
artist page
Project Website »

? – present
Current Living Sea Sculpture campaign and updates
Project Website »


Colleen Flanigan is a visual, performing and environmental artist, exhibiting internationally. With 20 years of arts background, she works in jewelry, steel sculptures and interactive mixed media on conceptual and collaborative projects. In 2007 she applied her metalworking expertise to the stop-motion animated feature film, "Coraline," directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas), adapted from Neil Gaiman's novel. An armaturist for puppet fabrication, Flanigan made ball-and-socket skeletons for the film's stop-motion puppets. A teacher of sculpture and metalsmithing, she's known for her large, 3-D steel "drawings," woven with wire by children in large group projects. Flanigan is the first visual artist to be certified by the Global Coral Reef Alliance in Biorock® mineral accretion, a technology for coral reef restoration that (surprisingly) shares many metallurgical, electrical and chemical principles with her early sculpture. She and her international, interdisciplinary team have created a DNA-inspired sculpture to become an artistic coral refuge, scientific study, and unique attraction in the Museo Subaquático de Arte (MUSA) in the National Marine Park of Cancun, Mexico. Scientists, filmmakers, environmentalists, artists, divers, and others are involved with bringing this new angle to the young underwater art/science institution. In 2014, webcameras will be added to the Cancun project to give the work a continuous online presence. Fine artist; stop-motion armaturist; coral reef restoration expert

Fun facts

Favorite meal:
The one that comes to mind- Thanksgiving 2010. There were multiple chefs making what seems like a 10 course dinner! From blue corn grits with jumbo shrimp by Rodney, owner of Podnah's (best bbq restaurant in Portland) to mole from Joe, the self-declared Tex Mex, to custom chocolate from Elizabeth, creator of Saghun chocolate, to pies and...on an on a delicious feast with amazingly talented food friends.

A funny story about me:
I was wearing orange pants and a long-sleeved blue shirt. My friend, Tess from Tassie, was dressing her new baby and said, "this is NOT one of his good outfits", as she pulled on a pair of orange pants...then a long-sleeved blue shirt.

Vital Stats

Fellows Class
2010 TED Senior Fellow
Living in
New York, United States
Working in
New York, United States
Born in
Los Angeles, United States


www.colleenflanigan.com www.livingseasculpture.com www.misssnailpail.org

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Fellows I Am Collaborating With