Mattituck freshman Chelsea Lovett's Save Our Beaches
Mattituck freshman Chelsea Lovett’s Save Our Beaches

Writer and marine biologist Rachel Carson’s legacy of inspiring young people to care about the environment has lasted decades, and it’s continuing here on the East End this summer.

Earlier this year, high school students throughout the East End were issued a challenge by Greenport’s East End Seaport Museum: Create a project, combining both science and art, which pays tribute to “The Bays Around Us,” a local take on Ms. Carson’s 1951 book “The Sea Around Us.”

Twenty-one students from Southampton, Mattituck, Riverhead and McGann-Mercy high schools took the challenge and submitted 13 projects (some are collaborations), which are on display at the museum through the summer.

The majority of the works are by Southampton High School students, who have the benefit of a new marine lab at their school, and by Mattituck High School art students, said museum board member Richard Pirro, who was on duty at the museum last weekend.

Southampton students Harrison Carter, Carley Guida and Allison O’Connor made a movie about the algae and oxygen deficiency in Southampton Village’s Lake Agawam due to people who feed ducks and the fertilizers spread on estates surrounding the lake.

Claire Hunter, also of Southampton High School, submitted a montage of Polaroid and fisheye film photographs of Mecox Bay, taken while the “cut” from the bay to the ocean was opened to provide better water circulation.

Southampton students Brittany Krzyzewski and Jamari Riddick made a dress out of shells, beach glass, and garbage found on the beach.

“I am an ocean lifeguard, and I am constantly picking up trash on our beautiful beaches,” wrote Ms. Krzyzewski in her artist statement. “If we do not keep our oceans clean, our water quality will be degraded and our food changes will be disrupted and unbalanced.”

Southampton students Maria Clemente and Kasandra Taraku created an illustrated children’s book, titled “Where Did All the Ospreys Go?” about Rachel Carson’s efforts to ban bird shell-destroying pesticides.

Students in Mattituck High School submitted detailed descriptions of their feelings about the bays along with their work.

Cordelia Larsen of Mattituck contributed a stunning acrylic mandala that shows the deformities and illnesses sea creatures aquire due to water pollution.

“This is a topic I feel passionate about, and in my piece I tried to convey the awful outcomes of chemicals in the water,” she wrote in her artist statement.

Chelsea Lovett, also of Mattituck, made a large sculpture of beach litter, which details how long it takes each piece of litter to decompose.

“It shocks me how people can just leave their litter behind on our shores and not worry about the consequences,” she wrote.

Yuliya Palianok, also of Mattituck, contributed a painting, separated in two halves, to show the difference between the marine life in polluted and unpolluted water.

“Although we are slowly transforming into a society that is growing more conscientious of the environmental issues, we are still blind to many that are changing right outside our houses,” she wrote. “I want to leave it up to the Long Island people to decide which habitat they would rather have.”

Mattituck student Caitlin Penny contributed an oil pastel of an eelgrass meadow.

“My piece portrays an eelgrass meadow with some of the native East End species which thrive there,” she wrote. “The blue crab, bay scallop, killifish, juvenile sea bass, all of economic value. A child is gazing into the water and observing the marine life, exemplifying Rachel Carson’s message that nature must be preserved for the future.”

Olivia Vayer of Mattituck contributed a mixed media relief of a sailboat, made with gauze over tin foil, styrofoam, rocks and fabric, which explored the positive effects of sailboats on the marine environment.

“By depicting a sailboat in a maritime environment like Greenport, I hope to show sailboats’ superior success at coexisting with the marine life of Long Island,” she wrote.

Edgar Samudio of Riverhead High School contributed a collage of leaf plasmolysis, a process by which leaves close their cells to preserve water.

“Fall foliage occurs as trees try to prevent plasmolysis from occurring and conserve as much water as possible,” he wrote.’

Audrey Werner of McGann-Mercy High School, contributed an animated music video and an original song, “Something Special About You and Me,” based on Debussy’s “Clair De Lune.”

“There is an unmistakable link between human beings and nature,” wrote Ms. Werner. “Nature is the gift, and we are the stewards. What we do with it, right or wrong, will have an effect. Whether we are talking about water, land or air, there’s no denying that they all play an intrinsic part in sustaining this beautiful cycle of life.”

The exhibit continues through Oct. 14. The museum is open on weekends from 1 to 5 p.m. through June 30 and every day from 1 to 5 p.m. between June 30 and Labor Day. More information is available here.


Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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