The Art of Conservation

An Art Competition for

Vineyard High School Students

What are the elements of the Vineyard—whether natural, cultural or constructed—that you most cherish?

What beloved animal, plant or place—or treasured activity, occupation or institution—is so integral to the character of the Vineyard that it must be safeguarded?

What if that piece of the Vineyard wasn’t there anymore or was drastically changed?

Artists are invited to share their thoughts about these questions through their paintings, drawings, photographs or sculptures. Selected submissions will be exhibited at Island venues, and . . .

Prizes will be awarded!

Registrations must be received by April 25, 2014.

Entries are due May 1, 2014. 

Registration for the contest is easy! All you need to know right now is which category you wish to enter: Drawing, Painting, Photography, or Sculpture. Or, you can enter more than one! (Just submit a separate form for each.)


  1. Any student who is an Island resident in grades 9 - 12 may enter the competition. 
  2. You must submit a registration form by mail or on the web by not later than April 25th.
  3. Artworks must be a drawing, painting, photograph or sculpture. Students are limited to 1 work per category.  (A separate registration is required for each category you wish to enter.)
  4. Your artwork must be original and include a short written description (1-3 paragraphs) of the work and how it ties into the competition theme.  If you need help with this aspect of your submission, please call VCS Art Committee member, Joan Malkin (646-894-0656).
  5. Your finished artwork must be delivered to the Chair of the Art Department at the MV Regional High School or Charter School by May 1st. 
  6. Works will be judged on May 2nd.  Judges will select four 1st place winners (one in each category) and any ‘Special Distinctions’. Winners will be advised by email or telephone.
  7. Make sure to put your name on the back (or bottom, if it is a sculpture) of your work, so that we know whose it is. Do not sign your work on the front.
  8. VCS plans to exhibit selected works at venues throughout the Island. If you do not wish to have your work exhibited, you should notify VCS promptly after the judging is complete.  You agree to let VCS display your artwork (and the accompanying description) on the VCS website and other VCS promotional materials.


Two judges have been selected to judge the entries.  Chris Morse is a co-owner of several art galleries on the Island.  Dan VanLandingham is a well known Island artist.

Artwork in all 4 categories (drawing, painting, photography and sculpture) will be judged according to the following criteria.

1.         Tie in to Theme: How well does the work relate to or illustrate the theme of the competition?  Is the theme clear to the viewer when viewing the work (and the written explanation)?

2.         Creativity/Originality: How creative and original is the work – both as to the student’s underlying concept/idea and in how he/she has bought that concept to life in the work? Is the work imaginative, inventive, unique, and innovative?

3.         Professionalism: Has the student paid attention to detail? Does the work appear to be carefully thought out? Does the work have a finished quality?

4.        Overall Impression:  What is the effect of the work as a whole? Does it make a strong impression? Does it stand on its own as a complete and outstanding work of art?


If you decide to enter this art competition, read the ‘Competition Theme’ and make sure you understand it. If you have any questions, feel free to call VCS Art Committee member Joan Malkin (646-894-0656) at VCS to get clarification. 

You should also read the ‘Competition Rules and Eligibility Requirements’.  It would be a big disappointment for both you and VCS if you spent a lot of time on your entry and it didn’t qualify for some reason.

Please read the ‘Judges and Judging Criteria’ closely.  It will probably help you design and execute your work, and it may help you win.

If any information regarding the competition changes, we will post the changes here.


Q.  How many prizes are there?

A.   There will be a first prize in each of the four categories.   A number of Special Distinctions will also be awarded in each category.

Q.  What are the prizes?

A.   First prize is a $100 gift certificate at an Island art supplies store.  All Special Distinctions will be given a $15 gift certificate from one of: Mocha Motts, Scottish Bakehouse, Tisberry and Vineyard Film Society.  Every student in grades 9-11 who submits a finished work will be given a 1-yr complimentary membership in the Vineyard Conservation Society.   Every student in grade 12 who submits a finished work will be given a 4-year complimentary membership in the Vineyard Conservation Society.

Q.  What do you get with a VCS membership?

A.   You get 2 newsletters/yr, discounts to 'Green on Screen' films at Vineyard Film Center; our bimonthly “Almanac” and special invitations to our ‘Winter Walks’.  You will also be invited to our Annual Meeting event.

Q.  Do I need to be enrolled in an Art class this semester to enter?

A.   No, any Island student in grades 9-12 may enter. You do not need to be taking Art.

Q.  How long does the written description have to be?

A.   A few paragraphs (1-3) are enough.  It should be just long enough so the judges and the viewer understand what you are trying to express in your work.  If you have any difficulty writing your description, give us a call and we may be able to help. Call VCS Art Committee member Joan Malkin, 646-894-0656. 

Q.  Can we ask others for help in writing up our description?

A.   Yes.  And your work will not be judged less favorably if you have received help in writing up the description. 

Q.  Do we have to frame or mat our work?

A.   You may frame or mat your work, but you don’t need to.  You work will not be judged any less favorably if it isn’t framed or matted.  Works selected for exhibition will be hung if possible.  If not, they will be presented leaning against a wall or on a table, though these options are less desirable.  For this reason, we suggest your finished work be suitable for hanging – either matted or rigid enough that it can be hung with a hook. VCS may choose to mount, mat or frame some or all of the exhibited entries.

Q.  Can a frame be included as an integral part of the work?

A.   Yes, and in this case, the work together with the integrated frame will be judged.

Q.  Why can’t I sign my work on the front?

A.   We want to ensure that the judges can act absolutely impartiality when judging the artwork. A signature might compromise their impartiality.

Q.  Can I change my category of artwork after I submit my registration form?

A.   Yes, but you must inform VCS before April 25th.

Q.  Will VCS reimburse me for any materials I have to buy to do complete my art work?

A.   No. 

Q.  What if I don’t submit my registration form by April 25th?

A.   You artwork will not be eligible for a prize and it will not be exhibited. However, late registrations may be permitted by special arrangement.

Q.  What if I don’t submit my finished artwork by May 1st?

A.   You artwork will not be eligible for a prize and it will not be exhibited.

Q.  Can I submit my work in digital format?

A.   You may, but you also need to submit the actual original work. Submitting it in digital format as well will likely enhance its presentation on the VCS web site, but will not impact the judging. 

Q.  When do we find out if we have won?

A.   The judges are scheduled to judge the works on May 2nd.  Winners, including those with ‘Special Distinctions’ will be promptly advised by email or telephone.  The names of the winners will also be posted on the VCS website.  Selected works will be exhibited the following week at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Vineyard Haven.  VCS will hold a reception at the Center on Saturday, May 10th at which time prizes will be awarded.

Q.  Will every entry be exhibited?

A.   Every entry will be presented at the judging venue. In addition, VCS plans to display all works on the VCS website. Selected works will be exhibited publicly.  The first exhibition venue will be the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Vineyard Haven.  Later exhibitions on the Island over the course of the spring/summer are also planned.

Q.  Who do we ask if we have any questions?

A.   You can try asking your Art teacher or you can call VCS Art Committee member, Joan Malkin (646-894-0656).

Q.  Who is VCS and what do you do on the Island?

A.   We thought you would never ask!! VCS is the Vineyard Conservation Society.  We area a non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving the environment of Martha’s Vineyard through advocacy, education and the protection of the Island’s land and water. 

Conservation today is about more than land protection. At VCS, we believe in a broad definition of environmental stewardship: we’re always prepared to fight inappropriate development, but we also advocate for pro-active solutions in all areas of environmental concern. We have been at work on the Island for 50 years – preserving lands for public use, sponsoring clean water initiatives, coordinating recycling activities, promoting community awareness for climate change adaptation and a range of other initiatives. To get a better idea of our specific initiatives, check out the VCS website:

Q.  Why did VCS choose to sponsor this art competition?

A.   We want to encourage more young people to get involved in Island conservation activities.  We hope that you will consider working with us over the coming years in projects that interest you.