Aria Luna’s “Deep Blue” unveiled in “Sea Lions in San Francisco” exhibit

  • SAN FRANCISCO, California
  • /
  • January 16, 2020

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Deep Blue and 29 other sea lion statues will grace Pier 39 Jan 17-20, 2020
B. Rasine

Nine-year-old artist helps give visual voice to California’s largest public STEAM initiative

San Francisco, CA, January 16, 2020—Aria Luna, one of the world’s youngest exhibiting artists and a San Francisco Bay Area native, joins 29 other local artists today for the official unveiling of the “Sea Lions in San Francisco” public art exhibit at Pier 39 in San Francisco. 

Funded by Aquarium of the Bay, “Sea Lions in San Francisco” is the keystone of the largest public STEAM program in California, created to protect, restore and inspire conservation. January marks the 30th anniversary of the world-famous sea lions’ arrival to Pier 39. The 30 hand-painted statues will be prominently displayed across San Francisco from January 2020 to January 2021 to educate and inspire residents and the 23 million tourists that visit San Francisco each year. The environmental messages shared by each 6-foot tall statue is estimated to reach 5 – 15 million people each.

Deep Blue in the warehouse, awaiting transport to Pier 39
B. Rasine

Aria Luna is the youngest of 30 artists selected by the Aquarium in a competitive Call For Artists with no age brackets. Just eight years old at the time of her selection, she competed on equal footing with professional adult artists. 

Aria Luna has named her sea lion “Deep Blue” in honor of the deep blue ocean that’s home not just to sea lions but all marine life. Her design celebrates the rich marine ecosystem sea lions inhabit, and depicts the vast stretch of ocean they travel during their migration. Painted onto Deep Blue’s body are herring, mackerel, dolphins, jellyfish, seahorses, sea turtles, and a manta ray. The rock Deep Blue sits on represents the sea lions’ migratory routes along the west coast of the United States and Mexico.

“The sea lion project was a lot of fun,” says Aria Luna. “I hope that when people see Deep Blue and the other sea lions, they will understand that sea lions deserve to be kept safe, because they play an important role in the environment. I hope they will always remember the sea lions, and donate or help the organizations that work to protect marine animals.”

The rich, vibrant colors of Deep Blue speak to Aria Luna’s signature style: bold and whimsical, at once detailed and instinctive. Many of the details in Deep Blue were improvised on the spot: bioluminescent jellyfish, a moray eel sliding along the sea lion’s underbelly, miniature stars, and the effect of sunlight shimmering through the waves, done with glitter paint. Her favorite color for the sea lion was Indanthrone Blue, which she used for the belly, backside and flippers, as well as the deep blue ocean. Two feet shorter than Deep Blue, the young artist had to climb onto the sea lion’s back to paint his eyes, mouth, and whiskers. She even improvised her own painting tool: too small to reach around the bedrock comfortably, Aria Luna taped together two brushes to make a longer paintbrush.


A media event is being organized by Pier 39 and Aquarium of the Bay to meet the 30 artists and view their statues. 

Event date: Thursday, January 16, 2020

Time: 9:30 to 11am

Location: Pier 39; please contact us for details.


Aquarium of the Bay is mobilizing the largest public STEAM program in California to protect, restore and inspire conservation. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the world-famous sea lions at Pier 39, thirty six-foot sea lion statues painted by thirty Bay Area artists will grace premier spots throughout San Francisco in starting late January 2020 and lasting the entire year. The initiative brings together elements of science and arts through innovative QR code-driven multi-lingual VUTAG messaging, focused on environmental sustainability and ocean conservation.

Link to Aria Luna’s Deep Blue sea lion page

Link to the official “Sea Lions in Francisco” exhibit web site


Aria Luna is one of the world’s youngest exhibiting artists and a changemaker who uses the power of her art to raise public awareness of and support for issues impacting local and global communities. Her work has been sold to private collectors in the United States and has raised funds for such causes as art programs, ocean conservation, and wildfire relief. Her public exhibits include Dragon Storm, a modular mural depicting an epic dragon battle, and Fusion Tide, an interactive seven-piece installation addressing the topic of plastic pollution of our oceans that debuted at Google headquarters in 2018, was displayed at the Palace of Fine Arts, the Consulate of Colombia, and was featured in the City of Mountain View’s inaugural Earth Day event in April 2019. Aria Luna is currently working on her first gallery exhibit, titled AMAZONAS, and has been selected by the Sierra Club for its “Art and the Green New Deal” arts initiative. She is a member of the International Association of Visual Artists and the International Association of Art/USA. She is currently working on her first gallery exhibit, titled AMAZONAS, celebrating the rich biodiversity of the Amazon. The exhibit is scheduled for Spring 2020.

Aria Luna’s web site is She is also on Instagram.


Birgitte Rasine

Artist representation

Tel: 203.645.1475

Birgitte Rasine
203 645 1475

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