Creativity Inspiring Conservation


Seattle Aquarium's Creativity Inspiring Conservation (CIC) program believes that teens have the creativity and passion to inspire change in the way we view conservation and our environment. CIC gives teens the skills to become thoughtful, confident members of the global community; speaking up for what they believe in through art. The teens in CIC are artists, thinkers, scientists and friends.

During CIC classes and workshops, teens will receive hands-on training from professional and working artists. Teens learn creativity, confidence, nonverbal communication, work ethic, and problem-solving skills. Each class or workshop is paired with a specific environmental topic or action, and teens will receive scientific and conservation education from Aquarium staff in the form of field trips, experiments, demonstrations and/or discussions. Teens will be encouraged to come together to talk about an issue or address it individually in their artwork.

Teens attending high school (or the homeschool equivalent) in the 2016–2017 school year are eligible for this program and should have an interest in art or science. CIC teens will be part of special community of artists and conservationists and will have unique opportunities available to them, such as Aquarium access, community service hours, special events, and the ability to participate in a special public exhibition.


For more information, contact us at or (206) 617-2589. You also can follow CIC on Facebook.

CIC student artwork galleries
2013 | 2014 | Exhibition opening 2014 | 2015


CIC Summer Studio

Four weeks. Four new adventures.

Mondays and Thursdays, August 8–September 1

Summer Studio returns this year with an opportunity for teens to explore the important role of observation for artists and marine biologists. Each teen will construct their own artist’s books that will be filled with drawing and watercolor sketches, photos, and reflections. Throughout this program, teens will fill their books with art created from being out and exploring the artistic and scientific resources of the Puget Sound.

Skill level: All
Teaching artist: Therese Buchmiller
Spots available: 12

We are currently only accepting teens for this opportunity on a waitlist-basis. Please e-mail for more information.

Week one:
Monday, August 8: 9:30am–noon
Thursdays, August 11: 9:30am–3:30pm
Teens will receive an introduction to the Seattle Aquarium and sketching from observation before learning hands-on about book construction, paper folding, rubber block printing, and creating their own block prints based on their sketches. Later, teen artists will be introduced to the wide variety of inspirational resources available to them via the University of Washington. Starting at the Rare Book Collection, artists will receive inspiration on how their books will look and feel, as well as getting a glimpse into history. After a short break for lunch, artists will venture into the Burke Museum’s Ichthyology Collection where thousands of different species of fish and mammals are stored and studied.

Week two:
Monday, August 15: 9:30am–noon
Thursdays, August 18: 9:30am–3:30pm
Starting the week, teens will finish assembling their books by sewing signatures into the cover, wrap cover boards with paper and book linens, and put finishing details on their physical books. Using their newly formed observational, printmaking, and bookmaking skills, we’ll travel via ferry to Bremerton to work with The Letterpress Printing Co. to learn letterpress printing and observational artmaking at Dyes Inlet shoreline using pen, pencil, colored pencil or watercolor, and photography using phones or Polaroids.

Week three:
Monday, August 22: 9:30am–noon
Thursdays, August 25: 9:30am–3:30pm
In the studio we'll combine colored copies of our pencil, oil, pastel from previous weeks. We’ll discuss the idea exchange aspects of book arts called “mail art” and other types of creative collaborations between artists and scientists. Later, teens will explore our local estuary, where salt water meets fresh, via kayaking around Alki beach as the Duwamish waterways meets the Elliott Bay. This area is often inhabited not just by humans, but also by harbor seals, otters, and jellyfish. After lunch, teens will work on their projects in Jack Block Park, exploring where nature meets industry and observing how we share this space in Seattle. (Teens will have the opportunity to explore this area in alternative manner if they are not able to kayak or spend time on the water)

Week four:
Monday, August 29: 9:30am–noon
Thursdays, September 1: 9:30am–3:30pm
Wrapping up ideas and observations from the last three weeks, teens will use the Seattle Aquarium studio time to put the finishing touches on their books - inside and out. At the last day of Summer Studio, teens will travel to a local artist studio to learn about their artwork and to talk to them about what it takes to be an artist in this modern world. At the studio, teens will present their final products and engage in critiques with each other and artists from the Seattle area. Teens will also get a chance to exchange artwork and talk about how to present their artwork at the final exhibition.

Summer classes

En Plein Air (or En Plein Mer)
July 5, 6, 7, 11, 12 and 14, 2016: 10am–1pm
En plein air (from the French for “open air”) is a method of painting that has artists working outside from observation. Exploring the Puget Sound area, each week teen artist will be painting along the water and learning how to express what they see representationally and abstractly. Students will learn how to observe and reflect upon their surroundings to create unique paintings. Note: this class takes place outside the Aquarium, but we will be using the Aquarium as our weekly meeting point.

Skill level: All
Teaching artist: Jeanne Dodds
Spots available: 10

The Plastic Ocean
Wednesdays, July 27–August 24: 3–6pm
Using polymer clay as their starting point, students will be challenged to connect their newly formed sculpture-skills with the topic of ocean pollution. It’s estimated that 4.8 million metric tons is dumped into our waters each year worldwide. Students will learn how to create an armature, build up clay, and finish with paint, mixed media or beach clean-up waste.

Skill level: All
Teaching artist: Nicole Bennion
Spots available: 10


Summer workshops

Batik Fabric
Batik and Our Biospheres
Saturday, June 11, 2016: 10am–2pm
In this fun, hands-on workshop, teens will have the opportunity to design a textile using a faux batik painting process. We will explore habitats, discovering animals and plants that depend on the ecosystem that supports each habitat. Through sketching, drawing with glue, and painting, each student will create a beautiful, hand-painted textile depicting abstract imagery inspired by their exploration of a specific habitat.

Skill level: All
Teaching artist: Nicole Appell
Spots available: 10

Wednesday, July 13, 2016: 11:30am–3:30pm
Charcoal can be used to create detailed drawings or abstract action drawings; making it adaptable to any situations. Students in this workshop will learn how to work with charcoal in their drawing and how it can connect to how our ocean’s living creatures have adapted and changed to survive our waters - from camouflage to defenses.

Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate
Teaching artist: Jessica Heide
Spots available: 12