SEA x ink. Exhibit Blends Art and Environmentalism

For students, faculty, and staff members walking through the Main Hallway, it is impossible to miss the splashes of nature displayed on the walls. On view since November 21, the collaborative exhibit by Students for Environmental Awareness (SEA) and ink. features student artwork portraying natural scenes ranging from Alaskan glaciers to Lake Wononscopomuc.
Lead by co-heads Shine Lee ’20 and Meghana Annamaneni ’21, SEA seeks to raise awareness of environmental issues. In an attempt to explore different forms through which environmental messages can be conveyed, the club decided to feature student creativity by curating an art exhibit. To do so, they partnered with the quarterly student-run literary and art publication, ink., which gathered submissions and supplied the exhibition with student artworks.
Inspired by the ink. exhibit in the Tremaine Gallery last year, Lee, who is also an editor for ink., proposed this collaboration and facilitated from both sides. He said, “We hope this project will serve as an opportunity for Hotchkiss to stop and think about the natural world around us, how we conceive of and interact with it, and perhaps even think of ways to better protect it. The fact that this was a collaborative effort between a creative arts magazine and an environmental organization shows how one can absolutely bring an artistic spirit to such a present, wide-scoping topic as the environment.”
After the idea of a collaboration was conceived, the planning process took the board of both SEA and ink. almost two months. In early October, the clubs sent out an email to announce the collaboration and solicit submissions from the school community. Board members of ink. selected the artworks to display in mid November. Lee said, “We wanted each piece to say something about the environment by itself. Though not every piece has such an explicit message, we also considered, in our selection process, how certain pieces might contribute to [the] larger narrative [of] the exhibit itself. For instance, some of the pieces bring out a message not necessarily by what [they] depict, but rather by [their] tonal implications.”
After the selection process, Mr. Greg Lock, director of photography, Shine Lee ’20, writing editor, and Jiahua Chen ’20, design head of ink., printed the works and planned the layout of the exhibit in the photography classroom. In addition, faculty members Ms. Nora Yasumura, director of student clubs and affinity groups, and Ms. Joan Baldwin, curator of special collections, assisted in the process of mounting the pieces to the wall.
The exhibit features eight pieces by five student artists who interpreted the theme in their own unique ways. As a result of their different interpretations, each of the artworks tells a distinct story about the artist’s interaction with nature. Doug Wang ’23, for example, contributed a piece entitled “San Dun Road.” In his photograph, Wang shows San Dun Road, a highway in China that separates factories causing pollution to its west and the clear water inhabited by the Chinese white dolphins to its east. Wang shared, “I was at a camp provided by a research foundation that offers protections to the areas where [endangered species are located]. [The staff members] brought us to this road and [explained to us] what it meant to their research and the local species they were protecting. I was inspired by that experience. It wasn’t just a road, it was a road that meant a lot to their work, and what they were working for.”
The two photographs by Jerry Qiao ’22 focus on a pair of vixens in Furano, Japan. Qiao explained, “While hiking near a highway, I discovered a pair of vixens living in an abandoned construction site. I intended for this piece to not only capture the vixens’ graceful appearance, but [also] to portray the stark conflict between twenty-first-century urbanization and the preservation of the natural world. [The photographs] depict the possibility of coexistence between nature’s preservation and society’s moving footsteps.”
Passing by the main hallway, viewers are attracted by the brights colors of nature depicted in the exhibit. Nancy Park ’22 commented, “[The works] capture a lot of the beauty of nature. [I realized that although we] can access those places without a lot of effort, [we] don’t always appreciate the beauty [enough].”
The SEA x ink. exhibit will continue to adorn the Main Hallway until the start of winter break. In the spring, SEA will collaborate again with ink. and professional artists for Eco Day, an event designated to promote community environmental stewardship.