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Dean Burke – The World Beneath

We’re so stoked to announce our first lead artist for Tacoma Ocean Fest Online 2020 – Dean Burke, found on Instagram at @tacomaandthesea.

swimmer and lions mane

Some know Dean as a paddler, out on Puget Sound waters in sun, snow or thick rainy mist. Others know him as the CEO of Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier; Tourism & Sports, creator of sporting events like the SEVENTY-48 paddle race to Port Townsend. But at Ocean Fest, we’ll be showing Dean the ocean photographer, who takes a camera out on a paddleboard as he supports open-water swimmers and captures a magical underwater world where lithe human bodies, swirling gold jellyfish tentacles and billowing green kelp meet as equals.

Dean’s Insta-famous shots will be blown up large and installed in a giant wall grid inside the Foss Waterway Seaport. We’ll capture them in immersive photos and video, and give you the chance to meet Dean virtually in a livestream on Sept. 13 itself.

Here’s a guest blog from our curator, Lisa Kinoshita.

In Tacoma and the Sea, artist Dean Burke plumbs an undersea world that is close to home – yet anything but familiar. Through his camera lens, the Salish Sea becomes a place of enchantment, one where piscine women dive in dream-like tableaux, and garnet-red jellyfish pulsate like living jewels.

But this fresh environment wasn’t always so. A local resident for 26 years, Burke has watched as once-toxic local waters – the site of eight Superfund cleanups – have once again become habitable to a variety of sea life, and safe for human recreation. He now regularly encounters orcas and humpback whales, and even recalls being chased by a 3,000lb. stellar sea lion bull: “Scariest experience ever.”  

An environmentalist’s respect for Puget Sound comes through in this photographic series. “So many of us are looking for ways to ‘escape’,” says Burke. “We take trips far away. We go on long hikes to get away. But with the Salish Sea and Commencement Bay you can dive five minutes from your urban home in Tacoma, and be a mile offshore and with no other human in sight.” Lucky for viewers of Tacoma and the Sea, he is willing to take us with him.

  • Lisa Kinoshita
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