BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — It’s time to take a swim but no worries there is no water involved. Instead, Virginia Tech is inviting you to enjoy its ”under-the-water” perspective gallery to highlight the importance of ecosystem education.

Through the calming sounds of water, video projections of male bluehead chub fish, and nests surrounded by soft space lighting, experience “The Underwater Wonders of Toms Creek” on the second floor of the Squires Center on the Blacksburg Campus. The exhibit features a nest-building activity and oil-painted canvases of the minnow.

The perspective exhibits takes explorers through researchers’ years of studying the habitats at Thom Creek at Deerfield Park. During the exhibit, viewers will learn about the bluehead chub minnow, a “keystone” in the survival of other minnow species in the creek. The exhibit features a nest-building activity and oil-painted canvases of the minnow.

“Arts communicate with the viewers directly and inclusively without boundaries,” said Hiromi Okumura, assistant professor in the School of Visual Arts and one of the collaborators on the project. “When art inspires humanity, magic happens.”

With help from the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, students, and the perspective gallery, project developers were able to create an exhibit to allows visitors to see fish “out of the water” to cultivate a better understanding of conservation efforts. Over two years, the community made and painted hundreds of fish.

“There is an amazing world of aquatic life that I had never known before,” said Okumura. “Fascinating! I totally fell in love with chubbies when I saw them for the first time, and I immediately thought we need to protect this precious and vulnerable environment. Chubbies are doing amazing work creating communities and maintaining underwater ecosystems. It is up to humans to protect them for the future.”

The exhibit was inspired by three researchers and graduate students Samantha Brooks, Thomas Bustamante, and Maddie Betts. This team assisted the Blacksburg and New River Valley communities with connecting to the natural spaces around them.

“My focus, as a curator, as an artist, and as the director of the gallery, evolves out of creating exhibits that help people feel empowered to make the world a better place,” said Scully.

The exhibit is open to the public until May 10 on the following schedule:

  • Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Monday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m.

For more information about the perspective exhibit, visit the Virginia Tech website.

Virginia Tech invites explorers to 'Under the water' exhibit
(Photo courtesy: Virginia Tech)