The Field Station is always thinking of new ways to reach out to our community, and part of that is figuring out what kinds of new programs we can offer to people with different interests. We love all of our scientists, but we also realized that we have a great opportunity to introduce even more people to the beautiful Eastern Shore. This week, we welcomed a group of young artists to explore the world of coastal art in Chincoteague!
Coastal Art camp is open to ages 13-18, and by the end of the week the campers will have an entire portfolio of artwork to take home with them. These art projects combine art and nature - campers use plants, shells, grass, and even upcycle trash that has washed up on shore to make art.
On Monday, educators Jesse and Nate took the campers onto the beach at Wallops Island, a beautiful, pristine beach and a great place to be inspired by nature. The campers collected shells, made plaster casts in the sand, and collected different dune grass for basket weaving later in the week.
Campers learned about coastal ecology and about the plants that they would use to create their art. Species found in the embryo dunes at Wallops include sea rocket and Russian thistle, while accumulating dunes have american dune grass and panic grass, and mature dunes have wax myrtle and bayberry. The mature dunes serve as a transition zone, where plants become more like wood plants rather than beach plants. The young artists use this knowledge as background in creating their work.
Tuesday took the campers away from the beach and into the woods, to Pocomoke River State Park, where they went on a nature hike and created nature journals about the different plants and animals they saw. As artists do, they went in style, with faces painted like superheroes and fish.
On the hike, campers collected leaves to press back at the lab and used watercolors to paint the scenes in front of them. Midway through the hike, they stopped to write poetry. Jesse and Nate encouraged the campers to leave their comfort zones and to include nature writing and poetry in their journals. The poetry ranged from a thoughtful haiku about a heart-shaped leaf to a witty limerick about a mosquito.
Coastal art camp has just begun, and we are just as excited as the campers to see where the rest of the week brings!
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