Reflections on Art and the Reef

Submitted by Kayla Haynes on the 2024 Winter ENGL program in Australia…

Last week, we visited the Museum of New and Old Art in Tasmania. Different than the museums in the United States, the Mona has a way more provocative vibe, showing a special perspective on what we would usually consider inappropriate. Our trip to the Mona proved to be an eye opening experience, especially given the low number of tourists in Tasmania. That  allowed us to engage with the locals and learn more about the different cultures. 

Photos taken in the Mona

The art venture was basically a mix of us and Tasmanian residents. Conversations with locals provided us with their perspectives on Americans. One museum-goer launched us into political discussions, suited with follow-up questions and facts unknown to many of us. Another was curious about the specific location of my residence in New York, showing a knowledge of the different boroughs without having ever been. 

Interestingly, a Tasmanian local revealed that they really only watch American shows and movies. This keeps them well-informed about our side of the world. That fact was a weird one to digest, as here we found ourselves surprised and unknowing in their environment, while they had a considerable knowledge of ours. (Submitted on January 22, 2024)

Great Barrier Reef

When you search for The Great Barrier Reef, the images you see are stunning. The coral is vibrant and the water is a brilliant turquoise. That was what I expected when we booked a trip to Cairns and a boat ride to the reef. 

Don’t misunderstand me; the reef was incredible. But, it was impossible to miss the dull colors that have seemingly infected the beautiful place. This is true worldwide, as many reefs, including the GBR, are expected to disappear by 2050. Seeing with my own eyes this phenomenon, this dying, was eye opening. It was not just me who felt this way. After our group of 14 left the excursion, we discovered that we all had this feeling of dread. 

Still, I am thankful for the experience we had. The Great Barrier Reef has lost some of its luster, but remains otherworldly. The turtles we saw and the sharks below us made the trip an adrenaline rush we did not want to lose. I would tell everyone to go see it now while it is still itself, before time and humans take away what is left of it. (Submitted on January 28, 2024)

My friend and I snorkeling and a shark that we saw.