29 students from Deer Isle-Stonington High School's pathways 101 program came out to Hurricane September 29-30, 2014, for an art-science integrated program focusing on collaboration and group work. Students first spent some time learning about the impact of trash in the marine environment--how marine debris can harm animals through entanglement and ingestion, and how long different types of marine debris can persist in the environment. We then went out to clean up Hurricane's coastline, quantifying what we found by using a cleanup form created by the Rozalia Project. We have been doing beach cleanups regularly this season, but students still found 627 pieces of trash in just over an hour!
After collecting and sorting the trash, we split students into three teams to brainstorm how they were going to visually communicate the problem of marine debris. Inspired by artists like Chris Jordan, Kim Preston, and Angela Haseltine Pozzi, students spent time in their groups determining the materials they wanted to use, the location for their art piece, and the premise behind what they were making. We worked with them to think critically about how their art could be designed to intentionally make a statement about marine debris, and their final projects reflected the time they had taken to be creative and have a clear message.
The first team created a lobster made out of lobster buoys and spindles, and set it crawling in the intertidal, which they said made sense because most of the trash we find on Hurricane's shores is related to the lobster industry. Underneath the buoys that made up the lobster's tail, students wrote out facts about the number of traps Stonington fishermen lose every year and the statistics about lobster debris that has been found on Hurricane Island.
The second team created a piece that featured a green crab made out of an old boogie board found during their beach cleanup. Because students in this program had also participated in our Eastern Maine Skippers kickoff program, green crabs, an invasive species to Maine, were on their mind. These students recognized that marine debris could also be considered an invader to Maine's coastline--despite our best efforts bringing students out to clean up Hurricane's shores this summer, these students found only 10 fewer pieces of trash than our first group, the Logan School, who came out in May--and trash is ubiquitous in Maine's intertidal, like green crabs.
The third group opted for a more abstract sculpture of the marine debris they collected, and they built it near an old navigation tower at the South end of the island. They wanted to show that marine debris, like this man-made tower, will persist in the environment for hundreds of years. The whole team sat, connected to their work as they presented, to symbolize that they all have contributed to the problem.
We appreciate all of the students help in keeping Hurricane's coastlines clean, and for their creative energy around these trash-art installations!