'An Otter Idea'  (article link)

Bold initiative looks to raise funds and awareness by merging art, science and a massive scavenger hunt

North Coast Otters Public Arts Initiative

I’m honored (ottered) to have been chosen as one of the 100 Northern California artists to decorate a life size fiberglass river otter for the North Coast Otters Public Arts Initiative. Thank you Ink People Center for the Arts, Humboldt State University, and all the business and private sponsors... I named my otter Dona^keh (Otter in the Osage language). With 4 possible themes to choose from, my otter design will interpret “Connecting art, science and ways of knowing.”


The inspiration and motivation behind my design:

I am eternally inspired by Dona^keh living in two worlds, earth and water. Therefore, I see them twice as cultured as most creatures. Otters possess traditional and scientific knowledge humans should heed now: Our planet’s water is poisoned and our wetlands are in danger. Dona^keh as public art is a powerful tool which can give voice to their storytelling, traditional Indigenous knowledge, and environmental responsibility.


As a first daughter of the Wahzhazhe Nikashe (Osage People), Tsi Tso, Eagle Clan, my birth task is to learn from seeing and make a plan of action to inform the people. All water creatures are sacred to us and Dona^keh’s story needs to be told. I can convey Dona^keh's message through our creation story— from the stars, down through the oaks, and into the water. It will be an honor for me to interpret Dona^keh in this way and I would do my best work.


The North Coast Otters Public Arts Initiative combines citizen art and science to increase awareness and value in the natural world with the otter as the visual “spokesperson.” Otters will be on display at local businesses and then auctioned in fall of 2020... Proceeds will benefit otter studies and student internships with community-based watershed projects. Join us on Instagram and Facebook and follow my Instagram nanette.kelley and Facebook @NanetteKelleyArt for my Dona^keh progress reports.

Photography works by Nanette Kelley