Projects 2000-Present > "From wonder into wonder existence opens." (Lao Tsu). Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Fort Pierce, FL

“From wonder into wonder existence opens.” (Lao Tsu)

Lobby windows at the Marine Science Partnership Building
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Fort Pierce, FL
Florida Art in State Buildings Program with Florida Atlantic University


Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute has been a leader in oceanographic research for over four decades. It is located in Fort Pierce, FL, along the Indian River Lagoon. With over 3000 species of plants and animals this is possibly the most biologically diverse estuarine system in the continental United States.

In 2007 HBOI became a research institute of Florida Atlantic University, doing work in ocean technology, coastal and deep sea exploration and research, marine biotechnology, aquaculture, ocean and human health and marine science education.

I did a lot of research for this commission, from taking a workshop on mangrove ecosystems to spending many hours online and going through books, and consulting with HBOI scientists. My goal was to convey the complexity, diversity and beauty of the lagoon area.

The design started with a photo that I took of red mangroves, which I altered and painted over, cut into vertical strips and wove through with horizontal strips. The horizontals are blues, representing sky and water. I then overlaid this woven "fabric" with strips of wavy, streaky blues and aquas, evocative of natural elements -- movement of water, air currents, etc. I see this weaving background as a metaphor for the interconnectedness of life in the Indian River Lagoon ecosystem. My mangrove forest photo was silkscreened and fired into all of the individual pieces of the background glass.

There is a wavy grid, a reference to a seine net, a DNA double helix as a reference to all of life, and a shell gorget motif from the Ais Indians. And there are many examples of creatures and seagrasses, with sandblasted, handpainted and fired details.

The stained glass window with the purple background is 40” x 48” x ½”. The other two windows are each 40” x 40” x ½”.

Photos by Jim and Nancy O'Neil