The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts


Maria Johnson and Eric Magrane, Pacific Snake Eel

February 4 – April 2

In Bycatch, Eric Magrane and Maria Johnson present an art-science exploration of the shrimp trawling fishery in Mexico’s Gulf of California. Every night from September through March, hundreds of boats traverse the water dragging hundred-foot long nets across the seafloor after a quarry of shrimp. Along with shrimp, they pull up over 200 other species. About 85% of the weight captured is not shrimp; this is called ‘bycatch.’

Combining video, installation, illustration, and poetry based on their overnight field research aboard trawlers, Magrane and Johnson have created an exhibit that gives you a taste of what it feels like to be knee deep in this overwhelming bycatch on the deck of a boat. They also introduce you to some specific individuals—such as a Shamefaced crab, Shovelnose guitarfish, and Sonora scorpionfish—often caught up in the nets. For the exhibit, they have produced a “Collectors’ Edition” set of Bycatch Trading Cards that pay witness to some of the non-human individuals so often the casualties of this unsustainable fishing practice.

Drawing on their interdisciplinary backgrounds—Magrane, a PhD candidate at UA in the School of Geography and Development and a research associate with the Institute of the Environment, is a geographer and a poet and Johnson is a marine conservationist and artist—Bycatch sheds some light on a key conservation issue in the Gulf. They created this work as part of the Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers 6&6 art-science initiative that paired 6 scientists and 6 artists to create work engaging with the Sonoran Desert and Gulf of California.

The gallery also features a complimentary selection of work from the Museum’s permanent collection and the collection of the Center for Creative Photography curated by MFA students in the UA’s Creative Writing program.