In May, Amy Mothersbaugh Roos put the finishing touches on one of her greatest works – a 10,000-square-feet mural that encompasses all who venture inside the Akron Zoo’s new “Journey to the Reef” exhibit.
She donated 1,500 hours to create the mammoth seascape mural and smiled when asked if it was worth it.
“It’s a dream come true, literally,” according to the local Studio 2091 gallery owner. “It’s the kind of experience I won’t soon forget, and it’s something I’d gladly take on again to light up some imaginations.”
The artwork includes giant hand painted jellyfish, colorful glow-in-the-dark coral, stained glass creatures and over-sized octopi.
"It's been a memorable experience," said Shelly Greenberg, Roos's colleague who assisted with the mural. "Amy took this huge, white canvas and transformed it into something really wonderful. I was so happy to be a part of the process."
Filling the expansive white space took over 200 paintbrushes, an array of colors, gallon upon gallon of paint and nine meticulous months of work to conceptualize and create.
“It’s beyond words,” she said. “Thousands of people will get to enjoy Journey to the Reef and see my artwork. As an artist, I couldn't ask for more.”
The exhibit features over 17 aquariums filled with reef animals, live coral and a stingray touch pool, according to David Barnhart, the zoo's director of marketing and guest services.
Zoogoers who enter the undersea world will stand just inches away from giant octopus, eels, sea horses, venomous lion fish and clown fish, said Barnhart.
The space, previously occupied by Jellies: Rhythm in the Blue -- an enormously successful attraction that drew over 300,000 people to the zoo from 2008 to 2011 -- was completely reconstructed to lure in droves of animal enthusiasts.
Two jellyfish species remain: Pacific sea nettles and moon jellies, with one just as eye catching as the next.
The exhibit also features three interactive kiosks and a media wall to teach kids about kelp forests, harbors and reefs.
The Akron Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 for children (ages 2-14); $8.50 for senior citizens (62 and older); and $10 for adults.