A ceramics project created by art students at St. George’s School was recently chosen as a winner in the 2020 Bow Seat Ocean Awareness contest. The installation, called “The Wave,” won the Making Waves award in the Art Category.
The annual ocean awareness contest is run by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, which seeks to combine ocean science and arts education. The Making Waves award recognizes projects that attempt to raise awareness for ocean conservation in a creative way. There were 5,300 entries received from around the world.
Ceramics teacher Jennifer Davenport said her ceramics class is asked to do an art installation in the school’s gallery every year. “It’s up to my students what the installation is going to be,” she said.
Last year, after much discussion, the students wanted to focus on the ocean. Several of them had recently learned about the giant garbage patch that floats in the middle of the ocean, Davenport said. That inspired their focus on the ocean.
Each student designed a proposed project, then the students voted on which one to create. They settled on an ocean wave made out of ceramic tiles.
“It’s in the shape of the wave, but it’s made of individual ceramic tiles,” Davenport said.
Each tile was hand cut and shaped and then glazed with one of several ocean colors. The students also made small ceramic water droplets. Some were included in the installation and others were given to gallery viewers as souvenirs to hopefully prompt them to think about ocean preservation, Davenport said.
Student Anna Klim, who was a sophomore last year, helped create the installation.
“We wanted the project to be reflective of each of our uniquenesses but at the same time illustrate that together we could create a unified whole,” she said. “Each wave tile was created individually, but together it made our wave.”
The students wrote in their contest application about what they wanted to convey with the piece.
“The shadows and layers we have created work to make a dramatic visual effect that leaves an impression on the viewer,” they wrote. “We want our installation to remind people of how beautiful the ocean is, how important it is to the world, the very real possibility we could lose it, and the necessity of taking action to save it.”
Davenport said the students weren’t planning to enter any contests with their installation. In fact, none of her classes had previously entered any contests. But as her students were working on their project, she saw an ad in a teaching magazine about the Bow Seat competition.
“The project they had come up with totally fit the parameters of the contest,” she said.
The students added a few posters to the installation and submitted it last spring.
Davenport said she wasn’t expecting to win anything because she knew the contest drew a high number of applicants every year. She’d also checked out the previous year’s winners and saw how polished and professional their work was.
“I was really proud and surprised,” she said of learning about her students’ win. “I didn’t know if our first attempt at entering would get any attention.”
She tracked down each of her students from last year to tell them about their win. Some have graduated and gone on to college and two were students from China who are attending classes at St. George’s virtually this year.
With Anna Klim, the students who helped create the installation are Norma Broderick, Krystal Huang, Angelina Jiang, Sonja Klim, Fair Niven, Pearl Wenzel and Selina Yang. They also share a $500 scholarship with the Making Waves award.
The installation had already been removed from the school’s art gallery and packed away, but the school has worked to find a spot for it. The area is smaller than the original installation, so Davenport said she will have to redesign it slightly to make it fit.
“The school has requested I reinstall it permanently,” she said.
After “The Wave” is placed on display again, perhaps it will serve to remind people to be mindful of the oceans and to take care of them so they can be enjoyed by all, as intended by its creators.
– Nina Culver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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