Are we psychic coral-polyps?, 2022. Cedar and casein paint, 16 ft. high by 20 ft. wide. Photo: Courtesy the artist

Object Lessons: Randi Renate

We swam below the surface of a gentle rolling current off the island of Grand Bahama, carrying bright cartons of small coral fragments, fingers of elkhorn coral, and cookie-sized disks of even smaller coral shards that had begun to fuse together. Adjusting the buoyancy on my dive pack, I descended, following a team of scientists to a sandy opening in this struggling reef for “outplanting”: a process of restoring reefs by adhering healthy corals back onto degraded areas. Coral Vita is one of a handful of coral farms and restoration projects globally that are fighting to protect the world’s coral reefs against the inevitable threat of climate change. Deeply interconnected and diverse beings, coral polyps are groups of many individuals, together making up an entire colony and thriving as a single, unified organism. In reframing the microscale of a single coral polyp, which is about the size of an ant, to an architectural scale of 16 feet tall by 20 feet wide, I invert our egoistic human relationship to this microverse. Are we psychic coral-polyps? is a sculptural lens for this collective coral thinking—somatically highlighting the intricate ways that everything around us is interconnected.