The Art of Conservation 

love it. protect it. mv

Seventeen high school students, as well as two middle schoolers, were recognized with awards in this year’s edition of our student art and writing contest, the Art of Conservation  (background and history here). This year, in place of a specific theme, the contest was integrated into our community art project, "love it. protect it. mv," a celebration of nature and open space, and it's importance to us all.

Special thanks are due to all the wonderful people who help make the contest a success, year after year: the dedicated teachers of MV Regional High School (with special recognition for the hard work of Chris Baer); our excellent judging panel, gallery owner Valerie Francis, photographer Elizabeth Cecil, and painter Gregory Coutinho; and our talented and generous framers, Kathy Morris and Heikki Soikkeli. We couldn’t do it without you!

View the judges' slideshow of all the entries, on continue reading for the . . .

Winners' Gallery!

First Place: Six Awards

Caleb Burt

MV Regional High School, Grade 12

Dragon Eggs (Ceramic sculpture)

Artist's statement: I was inspired by the quarantine driven walks I took up island last summer. I strived to emulate the giant boulders that lay in the water. 

Olivia MacPherson

MV Regional High School, Grade 9

Days End (Animated Short)

Artist's statement: This work was inspired by my memories of the island, mostly the places and animals I see often or remember.

Parker Bradlee

MV Regional High School, Grade 9

To the Beach? (Photography)

Artist's statement: A drone shot above Wilfreds Pond (top left). I’ve taken pictures of the bridge before but always wanted to get an above view of it.

Reese McCracken

MV Regional High School, Grade 9

Highway to Hell (Photography)

Artist's statement: Wasque Fisherman's parking lot if all the life was sucked out of it.

Shaun Thomas

MV Regional High School, Grade 9

Bloody Rose (Photography)        

Artist's statement: This Bloody rose is a woody perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae, or the flower it bears. ... They form a group of plants that can be erect shrubs, climbing, or trailing, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles.

Harding Eville

MV Regional High School, Grade 11

Paddling through Quarantine

Read Harding's essay here

Special Distinctions

In addition, four photographs, one painting, one ceramic work, and one poem took honors as Special Distinctions:

Kiera McCarthy & Maria Fragnos

MV Regional High School, Grade 12

Untitled (Ceramics)

Artist's statement: Over fishing is a big problem in our ecosystem on Martha’s Vineyard. Fishing has always been a huge part of Martha’s Vineyard culture but now we are being faced with harming the oceans and decreasing the fish populations from over fishing. 

Our artwork is representative of the aspect of nature we feel is most threatened and crucial to conserve, the ocean. Reefs and underwater ecosystems in particular. Being born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, the ocean has always been here for me. It livens me up when I’m down, and brings me back to earth when everything is up in the air. It’s past due for our world as a whole, and the island in particular to take care of our oceanic ecosystems and conserve a level of balance. Because for many people living here, the sea is what we cherish the most.  

Kamar Dehaney

MV Regional High School, Grade 10

Skies of Azure (Painting)

Artist's statement: My family goes up there sometimes and the cliffs are amazing with a mixture of clay and sand. I don't want anyone to mess up the cliffs by going on it and ruining it for other people who also have some attachment to the cliffs.

Clare Mone

MV Regional High School, Grade 9

The Circle of Life (Photography)

Artist's statement: In the woods of West Tisbury, the community came together to build a teepee out of fallen branches. A wandering soul then decided to prop (mostly deer) skeletons as decoration. Over time, more and more bones have been added, each one precisely positioned. I took photographs of flowers and trees, in less than a mile radius from the teepee to represent “The Circle of Life.” The result is a raw display of appreciation for our island, our home, Martha’s Vineyard.

Noah Jones

MV Regional High School, Grade 9

Picture Frame (Photography)     

Artist's statement: A photo of the cliffs at Gay Head in Aquinnah, surounded by a outline of flowers grown on a random bush in my backyard.

Kimberly Marques 

MV Regional High School, Grade 9

Road to Fire (Photography)            

Artist's statement: While walking down the beautiful streets of Martha’s Vineyard, the bloody orange sky is the only sight known to catch your eyes.

Mya O'Neill

Falmouth Academy, Grade 10

Reflection (Photography)

Artist's statement: On a rainy afternoon, there was mist on the pond. I was just expecting some water and trees but out from the corner came a beautiful swan. He seemed to be interested in me and kept swimming around where I was sitting. I sat there for about 45 minutes just watching this beautiful creature so gracefully gliding across the glass calm water. I am so glad I had my camera with me so others could enjoy a small amount of what I experienced that rainy afternoon. 

Amity Harris

MV Regional High School, Grade 9

Read Amity's poem here

VCS Staff Picks

Some favorites of the staff that didn't quite make the cut for our judges. Tough crowd!

Silas Abrams

MV Regional High School, Grade 11

Eye Pot (Ceramics)

Artist's statement: The eye represents how our society can see the environment being destroyed in front of us, but despite us having all of the studies and information necessary, we continue to harm it.

Margaret Sykes

MV Regional High School, Grade 12

Green Dew (Photography)

Artist's statement: In this piece, I wanted to show that even the tiniest things in life can be the most extraordinary. Nature can be scary, but beyond the threats around us, nature can be a wondrous sight to the human eye. I’ve always felt a strong connection to water and the environment. It could be because the majority of a human’s body is made up of water, but I’d like to think it’s something unique about myself.


Jessie Dlabaj

MV Regional High School, Grade 11

The State Beach Ripple Effect (Photography)

Artist's statement: While on a walk at State Beach with my family, a pile of rocks called my name. After climbing through the rocks covered in seaweed and splashed with water, there was a small pool-like area. The way the waves danced with the plants was breathtaking. I was able to capture the ripple of water and the splash of an overcoming wave. I love how the two events affected one another. When looking at this picture all my worries seem to flow away.

Middle School First Place

River Maxner

Middle School Special Distinction

Mathilda Moehnke

Can't get enough Art of Conservation? 
Check out all of the winners from past years!

Financial support for the Art of Conservation comes from 
the Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council