Barbara Mann grew up going to museums and was always interested in art and the outdoors. She enrolled in UGA in 1971 to study painting and drawing, but soon discovered a passion for working with metal and jewelry that she would pursue for more than 45 years.

“I am amazed by the complexity and beauty of the natural world. A walk in the woods is a pleasure and a mystery,” said Mann, whose ongoing series of work focuses on the origins of life on earth, evolution and the carbon cycle. “In an effort to make sense of the complexity and chaos of the natural world, I create objects that are a distilled, metaphoric expression of an observation and idea.”

Her fascination with marine processes, like the carbon cycle, and the role of marine life within these processes is serving as the inspiration for her latest project funded by UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s Artists, Writers and Scholars program.

As part of her project, she’ll be creating five pieces in her studio in Athens, Ga., including an oyster vessel made of silver, a jewelry pendant that represents different types of phytoplankton, a large plankton wall installation made of copper and brass, a marine carbon cycle necklace made of gold, silver, iron and other materials, and a vase depicting the marine carbon cycle.

Mann hopes that her artwork will help non-scientists understand a general, simple view of more complicated topics, like how an oyster grows its shell, or the intricacy of a plankton’s form and pattern.

Barbara Mann in her Athens studio (left). Her pendant, The Ocean (right), is an interpretation of the forms, energy and colors of the ocean. It's made with silver, gold, garnet, pearls, tourmaline and diamond.

Barbara Mann in her Athens studio (left). Her pendant, The Ocean (right), is an interpretation of the forms, energy and colors of the ocean. It’s made with silver, gold, garnet, pearls, tourmaline and diamond.

Supporting projects that increase awareness of Georgia’s coastal environments or help document the history, culture or heritage of the state’s coastal resources and communities is the goal of the Artists, Writers and Scholars program, which launched in 2021. Mann’s project is one of three selected for funding.

Alan Harvey, a biology professor at Georgia Southern University, received funding to highlight the contrast between natural habitats and human encroachment through panoramic photographs. He hopes that his project will offer a new perspective on the Georgia coast and inspire viewers to think more critically about coastal issues.

“It is kind of a challenge for photographers to present the beauty and the threats of this well-known environment in a way that would make people stop and think about it,” said Harvey, who plans to hold a large-scale photographic installation of his work later this year.

“I’m hoping that this jarring, unusual perspective and the potential to interact with it will get people to see these very well-known issues and think about them from a fresh perspective.”

Julie de Chantal and Kurt Knoerl, both assistant history professors at Georgia Southern University, are working on a project to shine a light on the history of African Americans on Georgia’s coast, an understudied and undertaught area of history.

Their project involves two components – building a database available to scholars for further research on African Americans in the region and an ArcGIS StoryMap to be used by tour guides or teachers as a study guide for customers or students. They hope to work with local coastal communities to bring this history to them so that they can learn, document and benefit from it.

Students survey a site on the Savannah coast

Georgia Southern University students survey Locks 4 in Savannah, which were constructed using slave labor. This is one of the sites that will be included in the StoryMap.

We hope that this is going to bring this history to life and that we will get a new narrative since not all African American history can be reduced to plantations and the history of Jim Crow. That history is incomplete,” said de Chantal. 

All three of the projects will be completed in July 2022. Information about where they can be viewed will be available at

Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant is currently accepting new applications for the Artists, Writers and Scholars program. Creative projects that could be supported by this program include paintings, graphic art, sculpture, musical compositions, photography, poetry, science fiction, film and digital media. Learn more at