The Hamptons

Hayground School Students Turn Trash into Art with the “Flotsam & Jetsam Project”

here + there :: The Hamptons’ PR Wire

This past fall, students in Perry Burns and Sabra Moon Elliot’s Studio Arts class at the Hayground School embarked upon a comprehensive environmental art project designed to turn trash into art. Inspired by the recent resurgence of whales and dolphins in the area, Artists-in-Residence Burns and Elliot created the “Flotsam & Jetsam Project” to benefit local marine life. Through Hayground’s Studio Arts Program, the entire student body (ages 3-14) is learning about how humans and human waste impact the East End’s beaches and marine life. During the months of October and November, all students ages 5 years and up collected waste and trash from the beaches in Southampton, Bridgehampton, Wainscott and East Hampton.

While an immediate goal for the collection of trash (or as the students call it, “bad treasure”) is to construct a sculpture out of the “flotsam & jetsam” that will ultimately be exhibited at the Parrish Art Museum this spring, a longer-term goal is to develop a culture at Hayground and beyond of healthful practices for our planet. In the process, Burns and Elliot are introducing their classes to mindful environmental practices of clean up, recycling, upcycling, and the hikers’ principle of “leave no trace.” According to Artist-in-Residence Sabra Moon Elliot, “We are working towards creating a sculpture out of the discarded material left behind on the beaches, challenging students to think outside the box and giving them the opportunity to work with untraditional materials.”

“Our objective is for students to become more aware of the human impact on our environment and marine life and show them how they can have a part in making positive change by adopting practices of clean up and “leave no trace,” as well as becoming more mindful of the decisions they make in what they buy and use.” To meet these goals, Hayground students, teachers, and school families are all taking part in this initiative, helping to clean the beaches, and then contributing the found materials to the sculpture project. Thus far the community has gathered anything man-made (e.g., fishing nets and gear, cans, bottles, toys, shoes, plastic bags, micro-plastics, etc.) apart from anything “gross” including any food, masks, full doggy poop bags, toilet or tissue paper, etc.

Notes Burns, “Seeing the breadth of materials we are finding, it is making us realize that no matter how conscientious we are, we are ALL contributing to the problem. Further, we are realizing that while it matters how we discard our products, it also matters what we buy in the first place.”

For their part, Hayground students jumped readily on board. Adds 9-year-old Hayground student, Dashiell Weitz: “Our goal for the sculpture will be for people to look at it and realize how we are affecting the ocean and the environment. Plastic is really useful for a lot of things, but it’s bad for the environment. I guess that’s the dilemma. Maybe they’ll clean up the beach more, or not litter more or buy plastic only when they really, really need to.

The “Flotsam & Jetsam Project” will culminate this March when Hayground displays the finished sculpture at the Parrish Museum’s Annual Student Exhibition from March 11-April 16, 2023.

About Hayground School

Founded in 1996, Hayground School offers children ages 3 through 14 a hands-on education based on mentorship, student-led inquiry, and authentic endeavors in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Schools or individuals interested in more information can contact Marcelle Langendal ( at (631) 537-7068.

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January 30th, 2023 Posted by | the arts | no comments

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