Eco Mural Project


Slowly bringing the coral to life.


We have recently begun an initiative to work with small businesses, building owners and environmentally-driven organizations around Philadelphia to create a series of interconnected murals relating to the natural world. Our goal with the murals is to highlight the beauty of different ecosystems across the planet, and also educate on current efforts of restoration and preservation. Each mural will contain a QR code that links the viewer to this page, offering educational resources and tools related to the specific issues of each mural. We hope to beautify spaces for those who share common goals with Hagopian Arts, while also offering a visual tool of education and inspiration that finds common ground between science, public art and community building.

A Note From Kala Hagopian…

As a young child, I grew up exploring nature and studying the ecosystems of Vermont. I was fascinated by the interconnectedness of my surroundings, how each and every living creature effects one another. Not only did I spend hours outside studying wetlands, fields, and forests, I began drawing and painting the flora and fauna of these environments. This, in turn, developed into a larger interest in ecosystems around the world and our place as humans within these environments, both our interdependence and our impact. I’ve always aimed to express this fascination throughout my paintings and murals, and I am so inspired to directly continue this study through the mural-making process.

Pilot Project – Coral Reef Ecosystems

Our first piece for this initiative is artwork inspired by the ocean life of the South Pacific. This mural is a direct expression of the visual beauty of this important ecosystem, looking at coral reefs specifically.

Eco Mural Project: Kauai Coral Reef Life

This mural was designed and painted by Hagopian Arts with the assistance of Olivia Losee-Unger.   Check out the slideshow below to see our mural-making process.

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Before Mural Installation



Why we chose to explore Coral Reefs through the mural-making process…

Coral Reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Often called the “rainforests of the sea”, they are made up not only of corals, but also sponges, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and more. Each component in the coral reef ecosystem feeds off one another in a delicate balance of predator-prey relationships involving animals, plants, and organisms. These ecosystems are also teeming with symbiotic relationships, occurring between different species working for the benefit each other’s survival. This complex system of interlocking food webs creates a chain of interdependence, where even the smallest of organisms play a crucial role in the safeguard of the entire ecosystem. While coral reefs only cover 1% of the ocean floor, about 25% of all marine species rely on their wellbeing. Humans also rely on functioning coral reefs, as they provide relief for coastlines, providing a barrier to protect from tropical storms and wave action. They also contribute to the human economy through fishing and tourism. It is through these activities, however, that humans are most offsetting the balance and putting the health of coral reefs in jeopardy.

Years of human impact from overfishing, boating, environmental pollution, and lately climate change, have lead to their mass degradation. Residuals of coastal activity like trash and debris, chemicals from sunscreen, drifting sediment from coastline construction, all contribute to the damaging of coral reefs.

Plastic pollution is another issue impacting the oceans at a devastating rate. It’s an issue that extends far beyond coral reefs. We produce over 300 million tons of plastic per year, with half of it being disposed of after single use. Today billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences that make up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces . Thousands of animals die from either eating or getting tangled in it. Recent studies have also shown how exposure to plastic is increasing the risk of diseases in corals. There is still much to be learned on how this synthetic material impacts the health of coral reefs, but there is no doubt changes must be made before it is too late.

It’s currently estimated that around 60% of coral reefs around the world have disappeared since the Industrial Revolution.  Part of the ripple effect from this fallout includes the extinction of thousands of species of animals. As climate change progresses, it will almost certainly result in an increase of severe tropical weather. The need to preserve coral reefs is becoming increasingly clear.

Several preservation efforts are taking place across the globe to help offset coral reef degradation. The Nature Conservancy is helping to lead an initiative to triple the coverage of marine habitats by 2020 through cooperation with nearly a dozen governments in the Caribbean. There are also many organizations who have started coral nurseries in local ocean environments. While coral growth is a slow process, many other movements involved with spreading awareness of responsible boating and fishing practices can also help decrease and offset the human impact on degradation.

Our goal with this mural project has been based on our belief that protecting coral reefs starts with an effort to place these issues at the center of public education. Coral reefs display a beautiful example of the interdependence of life, how species adapt to live for the benefit of one another, and how we as humans must acknowledge our role in this web in order to sustain its longevity. If you are interested in learning more, getting involved, and gaining further resources and tools, please follow the links below to learn more:

Join Hagopian Arts as we continue our initiative to create public facing murals educating on aspects of environmental conservancy! Follow our social media pages below to get updates on our latest murals, information on conservation efforts, and ways to get involved:   |

Feel free to send us an email if you know of a great wall for this mural initiative: