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Photo via Pixabay

Database Provider


Tatiana Suarez


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Visual and Performing Arts

Resource Type

  • Artwork

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - South

"Sink or Swim"

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  • This mural about sea level rise by Tatiana Suarez in Miami, Florida shows a woman clinging to a palm tree surrounded by the rising sea.
  • The artist explains that this piece makes a statement about how the climate crisis is imminently threatening humans and the rest of the ecosystem.
Teaching Tips


  • The image evokes a feeling of helplessness and desperation and is very direct about its meaning.
  • This resource provides steps for taking action to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • The artist statement includes a call to action and is a great example of how local impacts of climate change are felt.
  • The simple imagery and direct message make this mural easily understandable for even young students.

Additional Prerequisites

  • An understanding of sea level rise and its predicted rate of change is key to the meaning of this mural. 
  • It may be helpful to show students where Miami is located on the map.
  • Slides 11 and 12 in the slideshow of photographs contain a more complete view of the mural.


  • Science classes could research how tall a palm tree gets and how high scientists predict the sea level in Miami will rise. 
  • Art classes could discuss the symbolism in the mural. Students could consider what the flamingo, the woman, and the other figures represent.
  • Students could think about how the title of the artwork impacts the viewer's interpretation of the image.

Scientist Notes
This art piece focuses on the impact of climate change on sea level rise. This impact is further exacerbated by our daily food choices and activities. Reducing meat and dairy consumption, calculating our carbon footprint and consuming a plant-based diet, and consuming energy from renewable sources can help fight climate change. The resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science and Engineering
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
  • Visual and Performing Arts
    • Visual Arts: Standard C1 - Perceive and analyze artistic work.
      • D.C1.9-12prof.b Analyze how experiencing visual imagery affects the viewer’s understanding of the world.
      • D.C1.9-12acc.b Evaluate the effectiveness of an image to influence ideas, feelings, and behaviors of various audiences.
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