This year we ran our first SEAL program for middle school students, which focused on discovering and documenting the natural world through art. We had a great group of kids from all over New England on Hurricane and each one proved to be a talented and enthusiastic naturalist and artist.
Students started their time on Hurricane by reflecting on how they got here. After showing students different types of non-traditional maps or navigational aids (explore some images we looked at here or here), their first challenge was to design their own map that depicted their journey from home to Hurricane that day. From there we explored a little bit of everything on Hurricane-- students studied the plants, invertebrates, birds, and landscape-level transitions that make Hurricane Island's ecology unique, all while making close observations and drawing what they saw. Every morning students spent time with our artist-in-residence, Zoe Keller, to go through some drawing exercises and warm up their artistic minds. We did everything from blind contour drawings, to lessons on drawing flowers accurately, to a group game of "exquisite corpse," creating fun mashup creatures that are created in segments and passed to the next artist to draw.
One concept we focused on during this program was learning about Land art or Earthworks, and some of the artists behind this movement (Robert Smithson, Andy Goldsworthy). After getting inspired by looking at examples of artists who created land art pieces, students set out to create their own collaborative piece. Students also learned about Vik Muniz and then created an image of Hurricane using marine debris they collected from our beaches. We had a lot of fun being creative, and using Hurricane's landscape as our canvas!
As our SEAL program came to a close, students also took on an independent project that focused on a natural history subject that peaked their interest over the program. Student projects ranged from smaller scale Earthworks, poems, and creative pieces focused on communicating information about sustainable infrastructure on Hurricane.
Register for our 2015 SEAL program here!