Laura is a local artist in Charleston, SC who focuses on art activism as a form of aesthetic resolution for conservation of our endangered species. Her newest collection of endangered birds aims at raising awareness of the threats our birds are facing in North America. Ten percent of the proceeds are donated to the National Aviary and BirdLife International, a partnership working towards conservation on a global level.
Local artist Laura Palermo has been featured in an interview for Charleston Living Magazine May-June 2018!
Johanna is an endangered hawksbill sea turtle who was found by guests at the Four Seasons hotel in the Maldives. She had beached herself and become stranded. She was very weak upon admission to the Marine Savers Centre, with damage to her carapace from an old wound. After some time and care from their support team the majority of the shell hardened and healed. After her recovery Johanna became very active in their recovery pool, diving with ease and enjoying the abundant amount of foods offered. Her behavior was very encouraging and she was released a few days later.
"Piping Plovers" Triptych (3) 10 x 10 Acrylic on Canvas
"Wandering Albatross" 24 x 48 Acrylic on Canvas
The impressive Wandering Albatross has the largest recorded wingspan of any bird, reaching up to 11.5 feet across, and they can live up to 60 years old. Wandering albatross pairs mate for life and these long-lived birds won’t reach sexual maturity until around 9–11 years of age. Nests are constructed from a mound of grasses and moss and a single egg is laid. Both parents take turns to incubate the egg that hatches after two months and then feeding the growing chick, which remains on the nest for around nine months.
Albatrosses feed at the surface of the water, often resting on the surface at night. They feast upon fish and squid, and will often follow ships, feeding on the fish waste being discharged. Their fishing technique of trailing behind ships is the main reason for this species’ decline. Regressions have been attributed to longline fishing methods; Wandering Albatross are relatively aggressive in their dealings with fishing vessels. Individuals at times drown after attempting to seize bait from longline hooks as the birds become snared and are pulled under the surface.
Through the restrictions of their breeding sites within nature preserves and the relocation of fisheries away from breeding grounds, the Wandering Albatross are taking a step in the right direction. However, extensive modification of harmful longline fishing practices and ongoing monitoring will be required ensure a safe future for the Wandering Albatross.
"Blue-Footed Boobies" series #7, 40 x 30, Acrylic on Canvas
Blue-Footed Boobies are native to the Galapagos but also live on the western coast of the United States. Their population is declining due to the decline in sardines, their main food source. Without a belly full of sardines, the males' feet lose their bright blue color, and become less attractive to the female boobies. They are less likely to be accepting of the males' traditional mating dance, causing fewer baby boobies every year.
"African Penguins" 24 x 48 Acrylic on Canvas
The African penguin is a medium-sized penguin, and the only penguin species breeding on the African continent. They are known to breed on 24 islands of South Africa. The African penguin feeds on fish such as anchovies and sardines.
The population of the African penguin has declined and it is estimated that its current size is 10 percent of what it was 100 years ago. Originally, the fall in numbers was the result of the over-collection of eggs for food, and disturbance caused by the collection of guano for fertilizer. Today, however, depleted fish stocks due to over-fishing, and the risk of oil pollution are the most pertinent threats to the survival of the African penguin; a recent oil spill affected around 40 percent of the population. Predation by Cape fur seals and competition with them for food and breeding sites, as well as shark predation, has also had severe effects on African penguin numbers. The ongoing and rapid decline of the African penguin led to the species being uplisted from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2010.
All of the breeding areas of the African penguin in South Africa are protected as National Parks or Nature Reserves, and the collection of guano or eggs is no longer permitted. The recovery of rescued oiled African penguins has also been shown to be successful.
"Bristle-Thighed Curlew" 24 x 48 Giclee
Bristle-thighed curlew are monogomous birds, forming long-term bonds, and are not only faithful to a partner, but also to breeding sites, returning to the same place year after year. The expanding development of gold mines and mining roads on the Seward Peninsula in Alaska is an increasing threat that could have a significant impact on the curlew, due to its reliance on the small area for breeding.
However, the small population of bristle-thighed curlew is declining primarily due to the impacts of introduced predators on their wintering grounds. The flightless period during the moult evolved during a time when there were no mammalian predators on the South Pacific islands where they spend the winter. Today, with the establishment of humans on these islands, and the subsequent introduction of mammals, moulting leaves the curlew in an extremely vulnerable position. Introduced cats, dogs and possibly pigs, prey heavily on the flightless curlews, causing a significant decline in numbers. The Bristle-thighed curlew are currently classified as a Vulnerable species.
The Spotted Owl is a near threatened species residing in the mature forests on the Western coast of North America. The Spotted Owl has been federally protected since 1990 and is still declining. Primary threats to Spotted Owl populations are loss of old-growth forest through clearcutting and degradation of habitat through forest management, urban and suburban expansion, water and agricultural development, and mining.
"Spotted Owls" 24 x 20 Giclee
The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is a Federally Endangered species restricted to the dry prairie ecosystem of central and south Florida. One of four subspecies of Grasshopper Sparrows in North America, the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow does not migrate, living in Florida year round. Perhaps the most endangered bird in the continental US, few people have seen or even heard of it. Florida Grasshopper Sparrows are named for one of their calls, a quiet buzz that sounds much like a grasshopper. The sparrow is so highly endangered due in large part to its exclusive dependence upon Florida dry prairie environment, more than 85% of which has been destroyed. This subspecies is extremely habitat specific and relies on fire every two to three years to maintain its habitat. Under present habitat conditions, there is a 22% chance of extinction of the species within the next 50 years.
"Florida Grasshopper Sparrows" 16 x 40 Acrylic on Canvas
"Red Knots III" 16 x 40 Giclee
Red Knots are a type of sandpiper local to the southern and northern most shores of North America and are renowned for their extraordinarily long distance migrations. Over-harvesting of horseshoe crab eggs, their essential food source, has caused their population to plummet from 100,000 to less than 15,000 in the past 30 years. This sudden drop in population has left the Red Knots to be listed as an endangered species in some states and as a declining species nation-wide.
"Red Knots I" 16 x 40 GICLEE
The Hudsonian Godwit is a type of shorebird in the sandpiper family. Once a very rare species, the Hudsonian Godwits had declined to around 2,000 due to overshooting. They were once hunted for food and were soon regarded as one of America’s rarest birds. With great efforts to protect their species their numbers have increased considerably. However, they are still considered a highly vulnerable species because their population is concentrated at just a few sites.
"Hudsonian Godwits" 16 x 40 Giclee
"Rooster" 8 x 8 Acrylic on Wood Panel
"Masked Lovebirds" 8 x 8 Acrylic on Wood Panel
"Mallee Emuwren" 8 x 8 Giclee
"American Kestrel" 8 x 8 Giclee
"African Penguins" 8 x 8 Giclee
"Charleston Battery" 36 x 48 Giclee
"Turtle Hatchlings" Triptych (3) 8 x 8 Acrylic on Canvas
"Sunset at Sullivan's" 24 x 48 GICLEE
"Grace" Triptych 30 x 15
"Grace" Triptych 30 x 40, Acrylic on Canvas
"Grace" Triptych 30 x 15
Grace is a Green sea turtle who was rescued in Awendaw SC on January 25, 2016. She was found floating in the Intracoastal Waterway, listless and unable to swim away. Grace was cold stunned. The term cold stunned refers to the hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to prolonged cold water temperatures. Initial symptoms include a decreased heart rate, decreased circulation, and lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia and possibly death.
Grace was lucky enough to strand herself near a dock belonging to a coastal conservationist and wildlife biologist, who were able to recognize the symptoms of a cold stunned turtle, and for whom Grace was named after.
Upon admission they performed a physical examination, took radiographs, administered fluids, vitamins, and antibiotics. She has a lowered heart rate of 16 beats per minute, and a body temperature of 54.8°.
After some special care and a slow acclimation to being in a tank of salt water, Grace is now swimming around energetically and devouring fish and lettuce. Radiographs were taken and showed no signs of pneumonia, prognosis is good but full recovery is still pending.
"18th Green" triptych, (1) 30 x 48, (2) 30 x 15, GICLEE
“18th Green” is a green sea turtle who was found on the beach near the 18th hole on Kiawah Island’s Ocean Golf Course. He was covered with barnacles and algae and was found lethargic and underweight. Radiographs revealed air in the intestines, causing 18th Green’s rear end to float, suggesting a gastrointestinal tract impaction.
Upon admittance to the Sea Turtle Hospital, 18th Green received a fresh water bath to remove the barnacles and algae, was administered fluids for hydration and mineral oil tube feedings. About 2 months after being admitted, 18th Green passed multiple pieces of plastic and slowly regained his appetite.
After receiving extraordinary attention from the Sea Turtle Hospital staff for a year and a half, 18th Green was deemed releasable and was sent back to the ocean where he was found, on Kiawah Island.
"Just Keep Swimming" 20 x 20 Giclee
"The Journey Ahead" 20 x 20 Giclee
I am presenting a collection of paintings depicting the rescued sea turtles at the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Hospital. This collection is dedicated to raising awareness of the endangerment and the threats they face everyday, as well as raise money for the sea turtle hospital.
"Tortuga" 30 x 48 GICLEE
Tortuga as an Installation
Tortuga - Additional Lower Left Panel 15x30 GICLEE
Laura Palermo - Tortuga Triptych - Full installation available. Tortuga can be purchased separately.
Tortuga - Additional Upper Right Panel 15x30 GICLEE
Jersey is a young Loggerhead turtle who was found stranded at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey. She was pulled in by the cooling canal, which isn’t a rare occurrence for sea turtles. Her left rear flipper wasn’t moving and she had a healed wound on her shell. Her thin body and low blood protein levels also indicated that she wasn’t eating properly. After a couple days of coaxing, the volunteers at the hospital finally got her to eat. Although her overall health was increasing, her rear flipper still wasn’t moving and has led to her developing scoliosis. Jersey was declared unreleasable and they are currently looking to move her into a permanent home.
"Jersey" 12x24 GICLEE
"Miss Royal" 12x36 GICLEE
Miss Royal was found just off of Hilton Head Island by the SCDNR. She was struck by a large propeller and suffered from wounds from the right side of her shell to her rear flipper. The propeller did not completely sever the rear flipper, causing her to undergo surgery to remove the hanging portion of tissue. Under special care from the sea turtle hospital, Miss Royal has had a thriving recovery and will soon be released back into the ocean.
Eddie is a small green turtle who was stranded near Edisto in August of 2012. The rescuers found him flailing and swimming vigorously trying to get away, but he wasn’t able to dive below the surface. After some close examination, the sea turtle hospital concluded that Eddie’s buoyancy issue was caused by a boat strike wound to his shell. The nerves that control the gastrointestinal tract were damaged, causing his rear end to constantly float, making it difficult for Eddie to dive for food. In addition, Eddie’s appearance was abnormally pale. Low thyroid hormone levels caused Eddie to lose his color, leaving him with a light gray skin and shell. After a year and a half of rehabilitation, there was still no solution to Eddie’s buoyancy problem, and he was deemed non-releasable. Eddie’s quality of life is otherwise excellent, and he will soon be moved from the sea turtle hospital to a more permanent home.
"Eddie" 30 x 20 Giclee
"Amelia" 48x36 Acrylic/Gallery Wrap Canvas
This Painting is named after Amelia, a juvenile green sea turtle rescued in Hilton Head by a family in early January 2014. When she was found, air temperatures were near freezing and the water was approximately 50 degrees, which is far too cold for sea turtles. Amelia was cold-stunned, which happens when sea turtles are exposed to frigid water temperatures for several days, causing their circulatory system to slow to the point where they become cold-stunned and unable to swim or function properly. The SC Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital took Amelia in and is slowly nursing her back to health.
Turtle fact: Hawksbills feed almost exclusively on sponges. As the turtles feast, the stinging coral burns their faces, but they reach through it to get the sponges. Hawksbill meat is poisonous because the sponges they eat have sharp glass-like spicules with toxic chemical compounds.
"Hawksbill Hunting" 36x24 Giclee
"Paint for a Purpose"
Exhibition at the SC Aquarium September 2015 - May 2016
Palermo's turtle collection is dedicated to sea turtle conservation. Ten percent of all sea turtle art sales are donated to the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Rescue Program, a faciliy that rehabilitates sick and injured sea turtles for release back into the wild. Please join us in being part of the solution to conserve our local threatened and endangered sea turtles.
Laura's Exhibit - Cerulean Survivors at Mary Martin Gallery
Note from Mary Martin: "From the day Laura walked in the door I have had tremendous respect for her work and her love of the beautiful sea turtles. I have asked her many questions about sea turtles and she is like an encyclopedia. I look forward to seeing this young lady grow in her career. Of one thing we are certain, many people will have her paintings of sea turtles in their homes. Beautiful work done with passion!"
Laura Palermo has always been passionate about art and animals. Since moving to Charleston in 2012, she has found the lowcountry area to be openly welcoming to her style of wildlife conservation art.
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Palermo attended Mercyhurst University and acquired a degree in studio art. During her four years in college she also traveled to Europe to study abroad. Living in Florence, Italy for five months, Laura filled her schedule with all art classes. In her free time, she traveled to different parts of France, Greece, and England. Traveling through and being a part of these European cultures has been a further inspiration for Palermo to pursue her career in art.
Since moving to Charleston she has been deeply inspired by wildlife conservation. Her first summer in Charleston she encountered two sea turtles while fishing off the coast of Sullivan’s Island. This wonderful experience in addition to the rousing sea turtle information at the South Carolina Aquarium led to her decision in starting a collection of sea turtle art. A couple of months later the enthusiastic artist was SCUBA certified and eager to swim and study these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. Thus far, Palermo has explored the waters of Charleston, and travelled to the US Virgin Islands and around the Florida Keys in search of inspirational references for her paintings. Palermo spends endless hours painting and studying sea turtles, visiting the aquarium, and turtle hospital. With the goal to further increasing the awareness of today’s dangers threatening these magnificent creatures, Palermo is posting stories and turtle facts with each piece of art in addition to donating ten percent of her profits to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Hospital. She is also an education volunteer at the SC Aquarium where she enjoys teaching children the significance of preserving our natural environment.
Her growing curiosity of threatened species led her in the direction of endangered birds. With 192 species classified as critically endangered, there is a lot to learn, and a lot to paint. She is continuing to donate a portion of the profits of the paintings to The National Aviary and BirdLife International. Laura Palermo has found that her focus on art activism as a form of aesthetic contribution for conservation of our endangered species has been, and will continue to be, a rewarding experience for everyone for many years to come.