Mentored by Jesse Etelson, an EcoArt South Florida apprenticeship graduate, works by South Fork High School senior art students Courtland Thomas, Kaitlin Medley and Morgan Shelton were on display to parents, teachers, friends and the community. Thomas and Medley hope their work will discourage irresponsible cigarette butt littering. Their insights were based upon a research study done on the economics of tobacco and taxation in India and similarities the students observed here at home. Shelton’s work was inspired by a story she read about leatherback turtles found with 11 pounds of plastic in their stomachs; she hopes to raise awareness about the far-ranging impacts of ocean litter. “The convergence of science, education and art is something the Arts Council has supported for many years here in Martin County,” said Nancy Turrell, the executive director of the Arts Council. “We are delighted to have the benefit of some of Jesse’s EcoArt South Florida training passed down to our talented high school students,” she added.
For several months in 2012, eco-artist Jesse Etelson assumed the role of liaison between the students of South Fork High School and this turning-of-age genre. During Etelson’s participation with Tami Conrad’s classes, students gathered their supplies and creativity to begin the four-month journey into planning the first student eco-art exhibition in Stuart. Student artist Victoria Wienke, a full-fledged environmentalist, considered the project “a good opportunity to … create an artwork that would have a greater meaning.”