Site-Specific Art with World-Renowned Earthscape Artist: Andres Amador

The power of geometry to focus the mind and create perfection on a large-scale monumental sculpture is introspective and grounding. The process is much like a walking prayer.

The power of geometry to focus the mind and create perfection on a large-scale monumental sculpture is introspective and grounding. The process is much like a walking prayer.

Island School students are no strangers to terms like: ephemeral, site-specific, impermanence, and interdependence. The Environmental Art curriculum even includes a unit investigating site-specific sculpture using natural materials to better cultivate a deeper sense of place. In addition to Sustainability and Intentional Community, Sense of Place is one of the three pillars of The Island School semester.

Working two miles offshore at the sandbar, a place of constant change and literal impermanence, students were challenged to embrace the process over product.

Working two miles offshore at the sandbar, a place of constant change and literal impermanence, students were challenged to embrace the process over product.

This past fall, upon return from expeditions, students chose a final project focus.  A group of 8 students, guided by Island School faculty Hanna Atwood and Max Malberti, began to investigate and create large-scale site-specific art installations.

We were especially honored, therefore, to host a nationally recognized artist who also celebrates the power of art to connect to the earth and to one’s self. Andres Amador is known for his large-scale, ephemeral, site-specific installations using locally sourced, natural materials. Andres has termed his style of artwork Earthscapes and has accepted artwork commissions that have taken him throughout the United States and the world. 

Lighthouse Point, a place of historical and ecological importance, was chosen as a location for an additional Earthscape with the hope to highlight the need to preserve and protect this national treasure.

Lighthouse Point, a place of historical and ecological importance, was chosen as a location for an additional Earthscape with the hope to highlight the need to preserve and protect this national treasure.

Students used modified rakes to manipulate the sand into intricate designs.

Students used modified rakes to manipulate the sand into intricate designs.

Andres Amador Sandbar Student Final Project Rakes.jpg

Andres encouraged students to use this opportunity to create artwork that is a vehicle for introspection and grounding. As students worked in the sands of Eleuthera alongside the timing of tides and pulse of the waves, that very impermanence was exemplified and embraced. Throughout the week-long visit and student involvement, the group created 3 different Earthscapes and documented the process in video.

This island and the ocean surrounding it is like a jewel box full of treasures. One of those gems sits just 30 miles from campus and is a sacred space for reflection and introspection. Any student who has spent 48-hours sitting under the stars on Lighthouse Beach knows this deeply and intimately. Lisa Schmitt, Director of Arts, worked with Andres to coordinate an Earthscape at this remote location as an homage to all the natural resources of the island and in the hope that these special sacred spaces may be protected.

Andres Amador was born in San Francisco to political activist parents. He attended University of Alaska at Fairbanks and graduated from University of California at Davis in Environmental Sciences. After 3 years of Peace Corps service in Ecuador developing conservation curriculum, Andres returned to San Francisco. He now lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains with his wife and young child.

“My artworks do not last long… within minutes of finishing a piece, and often while still in progress, the returning tide begins resettling the canvas. Through this artform I have come to value the contemplative act of creation for its own sake. The entire act becomes a meditation of being in the moment, of celebrating and being at peace with life and death. My wish is for the viewer to experience a sense of wonder, immediacy, and appreciation for the fleeting aspects of our lives.”

Sue Bear, Playwright, Visits Campus

Art is a powerful tool for communicating messages. Photographs give an important visual reference. Paintings and sculptures offer the opportunity to dig more deeply into the feelings of the message. Theater, however, is a natural vehicle for storytelling. It is what we do every day.

Sue Bear, a playwright from the Boston area, visited us last week to introduce theater techniques as a vehicle for voicing emotions, concerns, and messages. Sue worked primarily with Deep Creek Middle School, collaborating with DCMS English Teacher Sophia Smith, and led workshops to help students strengthen theatrical presence as they read and study plays.

I realized that Sue Bear was my experiential-learning professional development in the English classroom without even intending to be. She left me with a wealth of new skills, renewed joy, and energy to make drama in the classroom. She had an amazing way with the kids too. The 9th graders, particularly, opened up like cocoons in her presence.
— Sophia Smith

At the Early Learning Center, students continued their work on Green Sea Turtle shadow puppets, inspired by Balinese shadow puppet theater. Sue helped the older students tell an evocative story about Green Sea Turtles and Seagrass. To include all students, ages 2-9, Sue directed a short play about the importance of Parrotfish for a healthy coral reef ecosystem. Parrotfish, Hermit Crabs, Grouper and Coral danced together in telling the story of “Nicky the Parrotfish” who eats loads of algae and makes the whole reef happy. 


For a CEI Professional Development Seminar, Sue shared theater techniques and tips on stage presence that are valuable to researchers when presenting their work. Sue’s goal was to provide tools that allow individuals to express their passion for a subject and deliver an imaginative and thoughtful presentation to a broad audience. 

There are truly no words to describe the facets of this experience: Working with Sophia and the DCMS students, playing, exploring and learning about each other, briefly glimpsing and exchanging stories with teachers… The Early Learning Center will replay like a cherished movie clip and make me smile… The opportunity to challenge and share with interns and faculty… This is a continuing story, we had the introduction, the first chapter is now complete and there is so much more.
— Sue Bear
After Sue left, the first question the 9th graders asked was, “Where’s Ms. Sue Bear?”. That is exactly how I feel too, “Where is Ms. Sue Bear?” It is my hope that Sue returns soon to again liven up my English classroom with her warmth and love. 
— Sophia Smith

Sue holds a Masters in Theater Arts Education and Community from Emerson College. Sue is also familiar to The Island School as proud parent to Wyatt Hill SP15 and Jessie Hill SP18. Sue most recently produced Bloggers Unplugged to sold-out crowds in Somerville, MA. She currently has three works in progress, including Sophie’s Masterpiece, a children’s musical set for staging in the Fall of 2018. 

Reflections from the Advisory of Lydia Felty


Many Thursday afternoons are spent with advisories, small groups of one faculty member and
four or five students. Those groups also include an extended advisory, a larger group of Cape
Eleuthera Island School staff who act as an extended family, joining the advisory for various
activities. So far in the semester, we’ve adventured into caves and relaxed on beaches, jumped
off cliffs, chatted by the ocean, and of course gorged on snacks. Even though we spend this time together, our experiences are all different, just like every day here is. Each of us chose to recount our favorite advisory time.

First, Mitch Bereznay talks about cliff jumping at High Rock: “My favorite advisory moment was
when we all went to jump off High Rock. It was very exciting because I had not yet jumped off
High Rock due to an ear infection I had during the traditional, beginning-of- the-semester jump.
When we got there, I grew very nervous because I am not a fan of heights. So I let Mike and
Bella jump before me and tried to gather my thoughts. After a few minutes of trying to work up
the courage to jump, I finally leaped outwards and plunged into the ocean. It felt so rewarding to
overcome my fear and just send it. It was a very special moment, and I’m glad I got to share it
with my advisory.”

Then, three of us tell our version of the same advising time:

Bella Lundeen: “My favorite advisory day was the day my advisory explored the caves and
Cotton Bay Beach with faculty member Oliver’s advisory. First, we went to the Rock Sound
market and stuffed ourselves with a bunch of junk food. Then, we headed to caves and began
exploring. Once we entered the caves, it was an endless feeling of excitement. We kept coming
upon new paths in the cave and exploring each of them, leading us to different exciting parts
each time. There were bats and spider webs everywhere. About 45 minutes later, we were all
filthy and departed for Cotton Bay Beach. Everyone from the advisories leapt out of the van and
ran towards the ocean. Feeling so refreshed and clean after our time there, we got back into the
van. That day, my friend Claire and I ate the freshest most delicious mango we have ever

Michael Tetreault: “My favorite advisory moment was when we went to the caves in Rock
Sound. We ended up at this location when Ashley Waldorf — Director of The Island School, and
a member of our extended advisory — asked us, “Do you want to go to a beach, or do you want
to explore this beautiful island?” Our adventurous advisee group chose to let Ashely lead us to
an unknown location. I kept looking for caves from the van when all of sudden she pulled over
across the street from a church. She told us that we were going to explore caves, and we
looked at her like she was crazy. We didn’t see any caves, so were the caves in the church or
was she at the wrong location? Ashley then went into the woods on the side of the road and told
us to follow her. We were walking through a narrow path with multiple spiders and other bugs,
and then all of sudden we came across a ladder that was leading downward. At the top of the
ladder you could only see woods, and then when we reached the bottom it all changed. There
were two huge caves on either side of us that were begging to be explored. For the next hour,
we traveled into these beautiful, bat-filled caves. We climbed up walls into new caves, and then
down into others. At the end of our exploration, we came back to the van dirty and tired from our
amazing adventure. This was one of my most favorite memories at the Island School, and I was
so glad that we picked to go an adventure.”

Sofi Morales: “Throughout the various advisory times I’ve had, our visit to Cotton Bay Beach has
been my favorite activity so far. The beach reminded me of the type of scenic views you could
find on postcards or the stereotypical tropical beach view. I hate to be cheesy, but I think it was
the most amazing place that I have been to so far. The sand was amazingly soft, unlike the
mostly rocky beaches that I had been swimming at so far. Packed full of snacks from the Rock
Sound market, which we had just visited, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect end to advisory time,
especially after having visited some very sketchy caves. Stepping onto the perfectly soft sand, I
saw the beach’s perfect waves crash onto the shoreline. Excited, I waded in; the waves bobbed
me from side to side as I floated on my back. Although our advisory only spent a short time at
Cotton Bay, I still consider those minutes to be one of the most relaxing moments that I have
had to date.”

Although we each have our own experiences and our own versions of events, we’re able to
bond during these advising times, see more of the beautiful island where we live, and learn
more about ourselves, even if it’s just that we prefer beaches over caves.

Alumni Update: Inspiring Future Careers in Conservation


Above: Today. Right: As an Island School student and member of the Shark Research Team.


Liza Morse (FA'09) began her work as a conservationist a few years ago while working for the Mote Marine Lab on coral reef restoration projects. She now finds herself at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, working as the coordinator for the Vernal Pool Monitoring program. Surely, she is reminded of her days as an Island School student, where her daily chore on campus was monitoring our cistern levels!

The Vermont Center for Ecostudies exists to "promote wildlife conservation through scientific research and citizen engagement," with many opportunities to get involved. Check it out.

Reflections from the Advisory of Olivia Lord

Clea Guerrand-Hermes

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I usually go to this place at sunset and in the night. This is my place to reflect and have appreciation for the beauty of the ocean. The rock itself is made out of art pieces—I think about that every time I go by there. Each signifies an animal or organism that lives here amongst us. It reminds me to be aware and appreciative of my surroundings. It reminds me of how lucky I am to be here. I’ve had a lot of my most meaningful conversations at The Island School at this rock. It has so many positive vibes—with the wind in my hair and the backdrop of the vast ocean. Here I can think deeper thoughts and unwind from my busy life as an Island School student.


Ethan Bankowski


The flagpole is the rock of our Island School community on Cape Eleuthera. This flagpole is a signature of our community and is always a welcoming sight, even though it is affiliated with a variety of emotions. This flagpole is a symbol of unity at times, serving as a gathering point in the mornings and evenings. Some mornings the flagpole is associated with a lot of dread when we are unenthused with the looming AMX workouts. When coming back from the surrounding communities the flagpole serves as a reminder of this community and seems like one of the most permanent aspect of our ever-changing environment. The perceived permanence of the flagpole is one of the reasons our preparations for Hurricane Irma were so rattling. The flagpole was taken down as a safety precaution (probably a good idea, no one really wants to be hit by a giant flying metal pole) and robbed the community of one of its centerpieces. The lack of the flagpole made the campus feel as if it was missing something, and to say the least we were glad when we had to put it back. Although I am not always eager for AMX, seeing the Bahamian flag flying high above us always seems to brighten my day.


Max Gryska


As I look out my window, shirts and bathing suits hang and dry in the wind. Past the Hawaiian shirts, the turquoise blue water sits calmly in the background. This view from the boys’ dorm is something that I have become attached to even though I wake up to it every morning. The boys’ dorm and all of those who live in it are what I have come to love most about the school so far. We have all become very close, and there is still so much time left in our semester. I am thankful that every morning, once I look past the drying clothes and towels, I look onto the beautiful Bahamian water. I am grateful that every morning I am surrounded by those who care for me just as much as I care for them. I cannot imagine leaving this place on day 100. 


Grace Zachau


Every time we tie up to the cleat, new memories are made and smiles are bigger than ever. From the first time that we went to the sandbar and learned what and ooid was, to the first free dive when we silently sat 30 feet under the christening water below, we came back with smiles on our faces. Each time we hauled our SCUBA tank up onto the dock, new memories were made.

“Life brings smiles and memories. The smiles fade, but the memories last forever.”   – Unknown