North Coast Otters Public Arts Initiative

Due to COVID, our exhibitions have been pushed to 2021, but our North Coast Otters Public Arts Initiative is inviting people to a "virtual sneak peek" of our otters on its website 

Follow my Instagram & Facebook for my Dona^keh and North Coast Otter Initiative progress reports including shows, scavenger hunts, and the otter auction.

I’m honored (ottered) to have been selected by portfolio as one of the 100 artists from throughout the nation to decorate a life size fiberglass river otter for the North Coast Otters Public Arts Initiative. I look forward to public talks and other educational interpretative otter opportunities I'll be participating in with my otter (TBD when it's safe to meet in groups). 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 interprets “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 gives voice to their storytelling, traditional Indigenous knowledge, and environmental responsibility.


As a first daughter of the Wahzhazhe Nikashe (Osage People), 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 illustrated Dona^keh's message through our creation story— from the stars, down through the oaks, into the water, and on to the land. It was an honor for me to interpret Dona^keh in this way.


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, participate in exhibitions, and then be auctioned in 2021... Proceeds will benefit otter studies and student internships with community-based watershed projects.

Photography works by Nanette Kelley