Art of Conservation 2015: Rules, etc.


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 May 14.

3.    Artworks may be a drawing, painting, photograph, sculpture or other visual expression (video, architecture, landscape architecture, collage, graphic or other design, animation, etc). Students are limited to one work per category.

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 (see below). Please submit description on a separate sheet of paper with your artwork and be sure to put your first and last name on your description. If you need help with your description, please call VCS art Committee member Joan Malkin (646-894-0656).

5.    Your finished artwork must be delivered to Chris Baer, Art Department Chair, MVRHS, by May 14.

6.    Works will be judged on May 15. Judges will select five first-place winners (one in each category) and any “Special Distinctions.” Winners will be advised by email or phone.

7.    Be sure to put your first and last names on the back (or bottom if it is a three-dimensional piece) of your work so that we know whose it is. Do not sign your name 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 judging is complete. Otherwise, you agree to let VCS display your artwork (and the accompanying description) on the VCS website and other VCS promotional materials.

The Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) is celebrating its 50th year of working to conserve features of Martha’s Vineyard that make our island’s environment unique and precious. To aid our work, we are asking high school artists to consider:



An Island’s Treasure 

Water defines us. 

Water sustains us. 

It reflects us, connects us, 

Supports our animals and plants. 

Water is solace and refuge, 

Protection and threat. 

And our water is endangered by the very people it supports. 



Artists are invited to share their thoughts about this subject through their paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures or other visual expression.


Three people have been selected to judge the entries: Brendan O’Neill, executive director of Vineyard Conservation Society; Ann Smith, executive director of Featherstone Center for the Arts; and Hannah Moore, an artist and MVRHS graduate.

Artwork in all 5 categories will be judged according to the following criteria:

1.      Tie-in to Theme: Is the theme clear to a person viewing the work?

2.      Creativity/Originality

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

4.      Overall Impression: Does the work make a strong impression?


If you decide to enter this art competition, please read all of the above very carefully. 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. If you have questions, feel free to call VCS Art Committee member Joan Malkin (646-894-0656) to get clarification.


Q.  How many prizes are there?

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

Q.  What are the prizes?

A.   First prize in each of the five categories is $100 cash. Special Distinction prizes will be gift certificates for Island businesses like Mocha Motts. Every student in grades 9-11 who submits a finished work will be given a 1-yr 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 May 14.

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 May 14?

A.   Your 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 14?

A.   Your 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 15.  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 Sun., May 24 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

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.