The Art of Letting Go

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The Low Tide Aliens an all-female Newport Beach-based group, consist of Laura Wright, and her daughter Darla started when they came down to Newport Beach intending to surf. It was low tide at the time not an ideal time to surf. Instead of heading home, the duo picked up some sticks and started doodling in the sand. The pair completed just a few flowers that the first morning. Eventually Darla and cousins Mila Martin, 10, and Kaitlyn Butler, 12 joined the group. The all-female, Newport Beach-based group, started the project two years ago and have been making large-scale, colorful sand art on the beach near Newport Pier, typically on weekends whenever the tide is lowest, during new and full moons.

Eventually, After Laura and Darla’s first attempts, they started getting more creative on subsequent trips, developed from sticks to drumsticks and using string to create giant circles in the sand. Portraying Mandala design on the sand is their forte. Recently, the group has added nontoxic colored sand to set specific pieces apart and make things pop.

Ideally, the dimensions of each design vary, depending on how early the “aliens” get to the beach. In a perfect scenario, they have just two hours to work with—an hour before the tide is at its lowest, and an hour as it comes back up. Most of the time, an idea (generated the night before, during a sleepover) is enough.

Working right below the Newport Pier, anytime people stop to watch or take pictures, the team rallies them to jump in, grab a stick and help out. Spontaneous interaction and community involvement are at the root of what the aliens hope their artwork can accomplish, plus adding some unexpected beauty in the world. For instance, when a friend and neighbor approached Laura about doing a pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the group jumped at the idea. Recently, a man commissioned the team to create a piece that aided him in proposing to his girlfriend (she said “yes”).

The Low Tide Aliens want to make their work as a surprise for people cruising around on the beach. You would first think that the aliens did it after seeing the artwork all by yourself at the beach. The Aliens usually go up on the pier to listen to what people have to say after with their masterpiece. People don’t have an idea that Aliens are in front of them, very happy and excited to hear what people can say about their masterpiece.

The Aliens is indeed an inspiration to people in Newport Beach despite their personal and busy schedule. Their artwork is about more than being present and making something pretty to brighten people’s day, especially on their family. It’s also a practice in letting go, in paying respect to the world we’re living. This kind of art needs courage, determination, patience and especially dedication knowing that your masterpiece could be washed away by the sea water moments later after finishing it.