Lush and open, the thickened greenery of the LongHouse Reserve gardens are home to a menagerie of art installations looming quietly among the trees, waiting to be discovered by the watchful eye.
A shallow pool of water and an upside-down clay elephant separated the main walkway into two sections -- on one side, empty chairs waiting for an audience. On the other side, long bulletin boards and tables filled the green, featuring student artwork inspired by the gardens
On Tuesday, LongHouse Reserve held a special awards reception celebrating the winners of their Sixth Annual student art show. The reserve is a nonprofit founded by textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen and offers opportunities for students and educators to practice art openly on their grounds.
“We open up the gardens for teachers for any way they would like to use them,” Selena Rothwell, chair of the education committee at LongHouse, said. “We would like to provide inspiration for teachers.”
The student art show began in response to a growing number of student art contributions inspired by school trips to the reserve. With wide-ranging categories and loose guidelines on submissions, around 350 students from grades K-12 submitted a piece of art, either stationary or performance-based, interpreting their experience at the reserve.
On Tuesday, the work was on display and prizes were awarded for overall “Best in Show” and various awards in separate categories. The work included everything from paneled murals and large sculptural pieces to smaller ceramic, clay and wire sculptures displayed on tables. There were glossy photos hanging next to richly vibrant modernistic prints and acrylic paintings. The event also featured musical performances.
“We don’t want to limit children’s creativity,” Rothwell said. “We are very strong promoters of children being inspired and following their dreams.”
Jessica Gullapa, 10, of Montauk, found her inspiration from an elephant statue she saw while on a field trip to the gardens. Gullapa recreated the statue using acrylic paint on canvas.
“When I first saw it [the statue], I was like ‘wow’ because I’ve never seen an elephant out of clay upside outside down,” Gullapa said. “That was my favorite statue.”
Winning student artwork will be displayed in different branches of the Suffolk County National Bank throughout the summer.
Geige Silver, 18, of East Hampton, said her artistic passions lie in fashion design. For the LongHouse show, Silver decided to combine fashion with nature, creating two different dresses using flora and fauna. Silver’s designs led her to the top, as she placed first among the rest with the “Best in Show” award.
“It’s a nice way to officially end high school,” said Silver, who will be attending Washington University of St. Louis on a full scholarship for art and design in the fall. “I feel honored.”