Marie Griesmar





I'm a Swiss artist based in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland.
In my art, I have focused primarily on water and the underwater world. The project "Beneath the Red Sea, a New Form of Reef" is actually the realization of an idea which came to me as I was working as a divemaster in the Seychelles. There, I could observe the marine life and the corals, and I witnessed how the reefs were slowly dying due to the acidification of the oceans. Wondering what I could do to help preserve the reef, I imagined creating new aesthetic structures which could serve as habitats for organisms such as corals. I believe that artistic creations which both nourish and illustrate the natural beauty of the underwater world can also foster awareness and understanding of the coral system among the wider public, and this is essential for the protection of the environment.​

Research Interests

My residency at KAUST has given me an invaluable opportunity to learn in detail about the habitat of corals, and therefore the necessary requirements for durable artificial coral structures. I work closely with both the marine scientists and the lab staff, learning from their research, exchanging ideas and theories, and joining them on field trips. As an artist with experience in water ecologies, my visualization strategies and suggestions are a contribution to their scientific efforts and can serve as a tool to communicate about the science they are doing.

Concerning the artistic methodology, I conduct on-site expeditions, make drawings - underwater and in my studio - take photographs and write texts. What inspires me to design these sculptures is the different patterns and geometrical forms which can be observed in corals, sponges and other organisms that constitute reef environments. I analyze the shapes – from their molecular bases to their resulting final structures – and then I interpret them into sculptures. The chosen material to build them is clay. When burnt, clay offers a great adherent surface upon which corals can prosper. Furthermore, the shapes I conceive provide natural protective spaces in which a variety of organisms can find secure and comfortable dwellings. By organizing and combining the sculptures together in space, I create a new form of an artificial reef. The installation is supposed to lay on the seabed and, with time, generate an organic hybrid artwork. However, as an art piece, this installation works also in an exhibition space.


  • ​MFA, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, ZHdK, Zürich, Switzerland. (2014 - 2016)
  • BFA, Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design, HEAD, Geneva, Switzerland. (2010 - 2013)
  • Erasmus, Academy of Fine Arts, Adbk, Munich, Germany. (2013)​

KAUST Affiliations

​​Red Sea Research Center, Reef Genomics Lab

Non-KAUST Affiliations

​​artists-in-labs program from the University of Arts of Zürich, Switzerland