Kids combine environmental awareness and art

Bonnie Dillard and bear sculpture. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The First Friday art walk will feature one stop that draws attention to the issue of marine debris.

Last year, former teacher Bonnie Dillard led students in a project that used trash washed up on local beaches to make a series of salmon sculptures and one larger bear piece.

The results are now hanging at the Powell Street entrance of the Kodiak Middle School.

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Dillard says Island Trails Network, a nonprofit involved in beach cleanup, provided the trash. The middle school students then designed the fish – 23 of them – and drilled the pieces onto a base.

And they also incorporated small pieces of colored glass they collected off the beach, called sea glass.

“It’s basically debris also because bottles get thrown in the ocean or on the beach. It’s like a giant glass tumbler or rock tumbler, the ocean is.”

But mostly, Dillard says, the kids tackled marine debris as their medium.

“They had to clean to clean them too. We had totes and totes of garbage.”

Just inside the school doors, one of the artists, 12-year-old MacKenzie Burke, says the amount of trash to work with surprised her.

“I didn’t think it was that bad. I mean I’ve been to beaches before, but there was so much and it’s kind of sad that people think they can just throw their trash and nothing will come back and hurt the environment.”

Dillard says the project is part of teaching kids about the effect of marine debris and the threat to marine life.

“I think they’re going to grow up with an awareness that will make things change. I think the young people are the ones that really need to handle this stuff and look at it and think about it and why not make art with it so that other people who walk by start thinking about how much garbage is out there.”

She says the kids finished the pieces about a year ago and the school installed them just before the holidays.

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