“I feel like teaching kids about the ocean is the biggest thing I can do … seeing their eyes shine as they fall in love with the ocean. That is everything to me.”Beatriz Chachamovits
Jesse Velazquez is an undergraduate student majoring in the biological sciences. Though his studies focus on the strict laws that govern the natural processes of life, Jesse has acquired a deep appreciation for the untamed beauty that is art. Whether through music, photography or other expressive mediums, Jesse continues to expand his views and appreciate art in new forms.
Beatriz Chachamovits was born in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1986. As far as she can remember, drawing has been a major part of her life. Beatriz would enjoy creating from the mundane or ordinary. Drawing creatures she imagined from the shapes she observed, these were her first encounters with art.
Beatriz recalls the density and large size of her hometown, it was a large city riddled with large structures and skyscrapers in every direction. She would often find refuge in her home decorated with a variety of plants. Experiences like these drew her closer and closer to nature.
Though she had no previous knowledge of the art world or formal art training, Chachamovits decided to study Visual Arts at the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was here she believes she found her true calling. “As soon as I really got into it, I fell in love. I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”
Chachamovits called Sao Paulo home for the majority of her life. It wasn’t until 2018 that she moved to South Florida. Since then she has presided in Miami. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the vibrant coastal city. Here she believes she can blend her true callings, art and the ocean.
Through different mediums, Beatriz Chachamovits has woven ocean awareness into her works. All pieces have led to the next, slowly evolving to her most current projects. These pieces act as tangible forms of her growing vision, each piece stems from the last. She believes her art is always in evolution, changing form and expanding.
When first approaching the idea of sculpting, there was some inner doubt. This was new territory out of her comfort zone. “I traded the stability of drawings and paintings, for something more serious. I knew that sculptures would not be as easy to sell, but I felt this was necessary.” Art was always more than about herself, there was a message to be delivered. Beatriz has a goal to unify all viewers. No matter who you are or where you live, we can all do something to help in the fight to preserve coral reefs. The destruction of these ecosystems will bring a downfall to all of humanity.
I believe this really sets her apart from other artist. Many may seek the life of an artist to share experiences or similar points of view, but for Beatriz it was always bigger than you or I.
Chachamovits personally loves connecting with children to spread her message. Impacting the youth is a personal mission Beatriz has taken. “If I am not doing something that can change the world, then I feel like I’m not doing enough” states the artist. “The youth have the ability to make real change, that adults just cannot do.”
Beatriz and her family would often leave the big city and vacation in the northern coastal state of Bahia, also in Brazil. She would spend days sitting by the ocean, watching the waves move back and forth and observing what they left behind. As one would do as they watched the clouds, Chachamovits would often find herself creating shapes and creatures out of the thick seaweed she’d find washed ashore. She had dozens and dozens of these sketches. Over time you can see them evolve to be more detailed and lifelike.
One time after a major storm, the entire coastline was riddled with seaweed. “As I sat there drawing these figures, I had my notebook open. A man approached me and noticed I was drawing things of the ocean.” As they spoke, the man was surprised to hear that Beatriz had never gone diving to see fish in their natural habitat. He soon asks, “have you ever seen the coral reefs?”
Though she was hesitant to follow this stranger, she believed she saw “truth in his eyes.” This original doubt soon faded as she approached the beach he was leading her to. Before they dive in the man asks “are you ready?”
Underwater she was shoved into a small cavern formed in the rocks. “Small rays from the sun gleamed into this cavern where small fish surrounded and swayed around me.” The entirety of that day was spent observing the fish dance along the reef and appreciating the colors she found in nature. It was a spectacle like no other, as if a whole other part of her life was missing. She recalls this as the moment that changed her life forever.
Though she never even got the man’s name, he was a major catalyst in Beatriz’s life. She has wanted to be that person for others; the spark that motivates someone to make a real difference with their life. The artist hopes to bring the same love and wonder she felt that day into the eyes of the youth and those she reaches. Every piece not only delivers a message, but allows its viewers to peak into this underwater world that she fell in love with in Brazil.
Subject of Artwork
“There’s always a point in my career, that I look at my work and say to myself: this is not enough.”Beatriz Chachamovits on the evolution of her works
No matter the medium, reefs are at the focus of this artist’s works. Exploring the concept of “dry dives,” Chachamovits hopes to expose viewers with a peak into the sea world.
Chachamovits’s first works were all drawings and sketches. She mentioned her drawings gave her the financial freedom to be an artist on her own. Though she has a deep connection to her early vision, she believes there was more to be said. Her next pieces began to work as infographics to the public; highlighting endangered marine life and what can be done to help them. This gave a sense responsibility to audiences. These acted almost as a direct call out to the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality many people have.
After infographics, Beatriz decided to paint the entirety of coral reef systems. These pieces helped illustrate the colors that can be seen underwater. This would serve as a stark contrast to her next works: sculpting reefs devoid of color. These differences reflect the problems facing reefs today, leading to the phenomenon known as coral bleaching. As these sea creatures continue to be stressed by increasing temperatures and high acidity, their colors begin to fade. The algae that keeps them alive is ejected from the coral polyps and they are left extremely vulnerable to a multitude of other dangers.
It wasn’t until 2016 that she began to experiment with sculptures. “I always imagined what I drew as a blueprint for a 3D object” explained Beatriz. These highly detailed drawings became pieces she would call “dry dives.”
Her first encounter with coral reefs allowed her to appreciate light and colors in a new way. “Understanding the movements and how light is able to reveal small details….For me this was a miracle.”
The outdoor world is the basis of her inspiration. “I like to focus on patterns” mentions Chachamovits when talking about her drawings. She tries to create continuity and cycles in her works, similarly to the sequences found in shell shapes and coral formations. Everything is connected in nature, and she believes it is essential to replicate these connections in her work.
In Brazil, she released a children’s book titled ‘Pequeno Manual de Peixes Marinhos e Outras Maravilhas Aquáticas.’ Her goal inspire the youth of Brazil to find the same love for the ocean. In her book, every page has a species in focus. Each sea creature was comprised of parts of a whole reef system. Included within each drawing was the fish that would be focused in the next page. These details parallel the interconnectedness of life in nature.
One of her proudest moments was having an exhibition at the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She worked closely with scientists to accurately sculpt 26 native Brazilian sea life for display. “This was one of the biggest things I’ve done in my life in regards to ocean awareness.” The exhibition acted as an alarm for Brazilian residents to see firsthand what was at stake in their own homes. This exhibition was meant to be displayed for a full year, but after three months tragedy struck.
On September of 2018, a small fire had started inside the museum, eventually burning and destroying much of the property. Entire collections of fossils and essential data to many researchers were incinerated.
Though this was a major setback, new opportunities opened in the United States. August of that year, Chachamovits was accepted into a new residency position at the Studios of Key West. Not only was this a chance to be closer to coral reefs, but opened new doors in a new country. She often felt like her work in Brazil was overlooked because of her passion for the reefs. Many did not understand where her message came from or why it truly mattered.
Once in South Florida, Beatriz knew she was gonna stay. Visiting Art Basel and seeing the thriving art scene made her realize, this was going to be home. In the Keys, Beatriz was also able partake in dives almost daily. “The part of my life I spent in the Keys was the most hands on I’ve ever been with the ocean.” This would bring new inspiration as she got a firsthand look at the corals.
She was soon able to display some of her work at Art Basel, and then at the Museum of Underwater Art. In 2019, Beatriz started working with the Bakehouse Art Complex. She was also invited to the Reef Consortium, meeting with scientists and showing her work.
In 2020, her piece titled ‘Carcass’ was on display at the Frost Art Museum. This piece emulated what one would see underwater when diving in South Florida. The piece highlighted endangered coral reef species while
Beatriz is now a resident at Bakehouse Art complex, where she is able to work on her new projects in her own studio. Within only 3 years, Beatriz has been able to make a name for herself in the Miami art scene.
My experience speaking with Beatriz was a one that left me inspired and creative. With a shared passion for learning about the ocean, it was extremely easy speaking with her. It felt natural as we spoke of our different yet similar experiences in the outdoors.
Once we started talking, it was very evident that she had a true passion for her message. Countless things that could have stopped her along the way, but she persevered to do what she truly loved. I have the upmost respect for Beatriz and hope she continues to succeed in the future. I cannot wait to take her up on the offer to visit her studio.
Thank you to Professor Bailly for getting us out of ur comfort zones and reaching out to artists in Miami. I learned it was much easier than i anticipated, and well worth it.
- “Art: Beatriz Chachamovits: Ocean Conservation.” Portfolio, http://www.beatrizchachamovits.com/.
- Greshko, Michael. “Fire Devastates Brazil’s Oldest Science Museum.” Science, National Geographic, 10 Feb. 2021, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/news-museu-nacional-fire-rio-de-janeiro-natural-history.