Bringing Art to the Duke Marine Lab: Request for MFA|EDA Proposals

The Duke University Marine Lab and the Duke MFA|EDA program are pleased to share an exciting opportunity for MFA|EDA students, current and alumni:

Bringing Art to the Duke Marine Lab:  A Cross-disciplinary Request for Proposals


The Duke Marine Lab

The Duke University Marine Laboratory is a unit within the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.  The Lab is located on Pivers Island in Beaufort, NC. It operates year-round to provide education, training, and research opportunities to about 3,500 persons annually, including undergraduate, graduate and professional students and visiting scientists from around the world. The Marine Lab strives to be at the forefront of understanding marine environmental systems, their conservation, and their governance through leadership in research, training and communication.


Genesis of this project

The Marine Lab’s small size, remote location, and focused mission have fostered a close-knit, collegial, and cohesive community with a shared sense of mission and mutual support. Recently, a generous donor provided a gift of $10,000 specifically to enhance our campus environment with a unique work of art. Although our community includes world-class experts across many fields of ocean science, we do not have much experience in the arts. Recognizing this, a dialogue was initiated with leaders in Duke’s Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts (MFA|EDA) program. This RFP is the result of those conversations.


Proposal guidelines

The Marine Lab, in collaboration with the MFA|EDA Program, is currently soliciting ideas for a permanent artwork to be installed somewhere on the Beaufort campus grounds. We seek a work that will resonate with the issues studied at the Lab, while standing on its own as a significant piece of contemporary art.


Oceans dominate the Earth’s surface, regulating climate, driving the hydrologic cycle, sustaining plant and animal species, and inspiring the aesthetic and spiritual aspects of society. The study of the ocean is also central to the resolution of global environmental challenges such as climate change, biodiversity, coastal land management, environmental quality, and much more. Ideally, these issues or themes will be reflected in the proposed artwork.


This solicitation is open to all current and former Duke MFA|EDA students. Teams are also welcome. Any medium (painting, sculpture, photography, video, or multi-media) will be considered as long as the final work reflects on and enhances the broader mission of the Lab and its diverse community. Proposers will also have to consider issues of feasibility, safety, installation, and long-term maintenance.


Each proposal should include:


(1) a 1-page description of the proposed work and how it relates to the Marine Lab’s mission;

(2) one or more sketches of the proposed work;

(3) a timeline indicating how the piece will be completed by the end of Duke’s Winter 2016 semester (i.e., by May 2016); and

(4) a budget for the project, demonstrating that the work can be designed, installed, and secured within the $10,000 limit. (Note: if the budget exceeds $10,000, the proposer must have additional funds available from another source.) If the budget allows, a portion of the funds may be allocated as an honorarium to the artist(s).

(5) Quantity of image files per proposal should not exceed 20 total, including proposed work and selection of past work.

(6) For large image files and video files that exceed email capability, please include a URL to a web-based viewing platform or file-sharing service (Dropbox, e.g.).

(7) Proposals (including 1-page description, budget and timeline as stated in the original RFP) should be emailed to no later than November 15, 11:59pm, 2015.


Selection process and timeline


September 1, 2015: RFP distributed to current and former Duke MFA|EDA students; Review Panel appointed including representation from the Marine Lab and the MFA program

September 1-30: Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the Marine Lab, tour the grounds, speak with students, faculty, and staff, and ask questions about site restrictions or limitations. We are organizing a group visit to the Marine Lab for this purpose: Sept 20-21 (Sunday exploring and Monday morning information meeting. Please contact Ted Mott to sign up for this visit).

November 15: Final proposals due to no later than November 15, 11:59pm, 2015.

December 15: Review panel announces the winning proposal

January-April 2016: Winning artist or team creates/constructs/installs the selected work



For more information, contact:

Prof. Xavier Basurto, Duke Marine Lab,

Prof. Thomas Rankin, Director, Duke MFA|EDA,

Dr. Morgan Gopnik (PhD 2013),

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