Friday, November 22, 2019

Art that Connects People to the Harbor

By Robyn Reed
Robyn Reed is Artist in Residence for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.  She studied painting and sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and was the Associate Dean of Admissions at SMFA for eight years.   Robyn lives in the North End of Boston and walks along the Harborwalk every day, and she is passionate about keeping the Harbor and our oceans clean.  In addition to her art practice, Robyn also loves volunteering, gardening, and hiking.

The artists that live along the Harbor are deeply moved by the sea life, the light, the salty air, the sand, and the peace and rhythms of this glorious area. We encourage community members to embrace the Harbor and stick their feet in the sand with us. Art is a global connector of people, it brings people from all backgrounds together to share in something beautiful- just like Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay. In 2019, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay continued our commitment to using creative ways to bring community members to the water and connect them with the bountiful resources of the Harbor.

For the sixth consecutive year, local children, community members, and families got to enjoy the spectacular art of Andres Amador at three of our community beaches-Revere Beach, Nantasket Beach and Constitution Beach. Save the Harbor/Save the Bay brings Andres Amador, a renowned American artist, known for his large-scale organic sand drawings, out from San Francisco to take part in the Better Beaches Program every year. Working with sand rakes and teams of volunteers, Amador created mandalas in the sand between the high- and low-tide lines that last for just a few hours, connecting art and the environment in a way that is engaging and exciting.

Amador creates these large scale artworks with hopes to inspire people to "follow what brings you joy." His mission is to find satisfying outlets of creative expressive for his explorations into life while uplifting, inspiring and opening the viewer.

Amador says that simply being at the beach can be restorative, even near a major city, and we can surely agree! With bare feet in the sand, breathing the fresh ocean air, the mind is clear and all outside cares dissolve.

Using portable drones, Amador and the day’s participants were able to capture photographs of these temporary works of art from a birds-eye vantage point, giving us a unique perspective on how our hours of work along the beach had transformed these sandy shores into breathtaking scenes- at least until the next high tide.

As a fellow environmental artist, I can appreciate the visual experiences that Amador creates while reflecting on the opportunities I had to bring my environmental art project “Changing Course” to the beaches all around the Harbor for a second year.

"Changing Course" is an interactive piece made in collaboration with youth and families from events at Wollaston, Carson, Constitution, and Teanan Beaches. At each beach, participants helped paint over 50 “fish” and we talked about the urgent problem of plastics in the ocean. All of these painted bottles get incorporated into a larger sculpture, and when that is hung up, it looks like a huge school of fish.

This interactive sculpture is made up of entirely plastic drink bottles - that might have ended up in Boston Harbor - if they had not been collected from the parks, streets, and sidewalks of the Boston Waterfront and Seaport neighborhoods. The most important part of the art piece, however, is the part where I get to talk to people about how each of us can make a difference in the health and well- being of the ocean and ocean life.

The title for the piece came from the hope I have that by showing how much plastic trash is in our parks and streets, and how quickly it accumulates, we can change the course of these single-use plastic bottles. Instead of all these bottles headed towards our Harbor, we can recycle, or limit our use of these items. I am hoping that all the enthusiastic people who helped paint these “fish” at the beach this summer will never look at a water bottle on the ground the same way again and instead think about what they can do to help keep our beaches and Harbor clean!

The team at Save the Harbor and I both agree that art provides a unique opportunity to connect with Boston Harbor, the region’s public beaches, and the Boston Harbor Islands. I truly believe that by looking at environmental problems through the lenses of art and community collaboration we can come up with creative solutions to many of the problems affecting the harbor, our environment and the world today. I hope you can join us soon on Boston Harbor and I look forward to continuing to work with Save the Harbor to inspire new generations of artists and environmental stewards.

Save the Harbor would like to thank our arts and humanities program partners; Andres Amador, Robyn Reed, CBRE, Rockhill Management, Bay State Cruise Company, Massachusetts Bay Lines, Eric Dolin, Norah Dooley, David Coffin, and Tony Toledo.

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