Freeport students create sculptures from trash

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A broken hula hoop, plastic bottles and tin cans, fishing wire, a coconut, a plastic play set — these were some of the items used by Freeport High School students to create three dimensional pieces of artwork. “It was a struggle,” Kaitlyn Adames, a senior from Freeport High School said. “But you keep at it and it finally all comes together.”

About a dozen art students from Freeport High School spent last Thursday at Operation SPLASH headquarters scouring 80 pounds of trash to create sculptures that interpret the meaning of peace. The Long Island Arts Council at Freeport sponsored the “Recycling Art” program. “The project aims to help students create art out of materials that are overlooked, discarded, broken or forgotten,” said Larry Dresner, executive director of LIAC. Operation SPLASH volunteers collected the detritus that had accumulated in the wetlands surrounding Freeport and brought it back to shore, where it was sorted and cleaned.

Leigh Block is a SPLASH volunteer who plies the waters on the Freeport and East Rockaway boats that pull garbage from the waterways each day from March 30 to Nov. 30. “We find all sorts of unusual things,” he said. Recently, he found a cast-iron tub and two sinks buried in the high grasses in the bays that are being restored for a display. “We think there must have been a bayhouse at this location and it collapsed years ago from storms. This is what was left behind,” Block said.

But for this project SPLASH volunteers gave the students whatever was at hand. “It was just a random selection of items,” Devorah Crupar, director of education for Operation SPLASH, said. “We laid it out and let the students decide what they wanted to do. They came in here with their sleeves rolled up and ready to go.”

“We had the students brainstorm and take photographs of possible items,” Jocelyn Rodriguez, district art facilitator for Freeport Schools said. “We looked at a slide show of urban sculptures and recycled material and came up with sketches and ideas.” From trash came treasure —students created a peace sign and a dove.

“This project is also about connecting art with the environment,” Ruth Breidenbach, director of art and music for Freeport Schools said. “It becomes meaningful to the students when they can see a real life application to their work.”

 “We hope to teach high school students about environmental sustainability and conservation by creating art out of reclaimed materials,” Dresner added. “We are very happy to partner with Freeport Public Schools.”

The peace sign is created out of a broken hula-hoop. It has colorful plastic bottles around its frame. “We also used sturdy wires to create the legs of the peace sign,” Kimberly Adames said. Students also decorated the sign with flowers created from plastic bottles. “I got the idea from the DIY [network],” Jenifer Orantes said. “We will put some of the flowers on the peace sign and the rest we will string with wire to create a curtain of flowers.”

The peace dove students made came from a discarded play set. Its head is made from a found coconut and its eyes from bottle caps. “We placed cans around the neck to symbolize how the dove was eating plastics,” Kaitlyn Adames said.

The sculptures will be displayed in the lobby of Freeport High School on Oct. 6 as part of the Freeport School District’s annual Art Exhibit and Peace Concert beginning at 7 p.m. The sculptures will then be exhibited at the Freeport Recreation Center and then on the Nautical Mile for the Fall Festival on Oct. 30.