Barnstable High Student Works on Display at HYCC

"Ebb & Flow" works inspired by Sandy Neck Beach - Now through April 3rd...
Barnstable High fine arts students at Sandy Neck Beach (Town of Barnstable)

HYANNIS, MA -The Hyannis Youth and Community Center’s (HYCC) Multi-Cultural Resource Room (also known as Barnstable Public School’s Family & Community Engagement Center) now features wall exhibit panels to showcase a variety of student creative works including literary and visual art pieces by Cape Cod students throughout the year.

“The Hyannis Youth and Community Center is more than just sports; our youth’s talents should be highlighted in all of their achievements and passions,” says Recreation Director Patti Machado. The inaugural student spotlight exhibit features students in Abby Fay Smith’s Barnstable High School Fine Arts 4 class.  The exhibit is on display now through April 3, 2020.  The Multi-Cultural Resource Room is open to the general public Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday, 9:00am-5:00pm and occasional evenings during BHS special events. The Hyannis Youth & Community Center is located at 141 Bassett Lane, Hyannis, MA  02601.  508-790-6345. 

The Hyannis Youth and Community Center is a 105,000 sq. ft. full service community center featuring twin NHL size rinks, a 12,500 sq ft wood floor gymnasium, walking track and outdoor skate park.  The Mission of the HYCC is to provide state-of-the-art accessible facilities for a variety of recreational programs and special events, competitive sports organizations, after-school activities and opportunities for the community at large to foster educational excellence and physical growth across all generations.


In October 2019 students from Barnstable High School’s Fine Arts 4 Class participated in a field trip out to the Sandy Neck House at the “Halfway Point,” so called because of its location half way down the inner rim of Sandy Neck. The building, more of a nature camp than a “house,” is nestled in the maritime forest perched above the Barnstable Great Marsh. It overlooks a thick matted patch of marsh grass, Osprey nesting sites and a cluster of bird houses opening up to a view of Barnstable Harbor.

Students Celita Cadet, Triona Ferrie, Victoria Hall, Alison Kearney, Shaya Morales, Stephen Pond, Alec Rogalski, Sam Van Gelder and Elisha Watson were tasked with combining what they had previously researched regarding the ecology, history, topography, and conservation aspects of Sandy Neck with their experiences journeying out to the House out at the Halfway Point. Accompanying them were Town of Barnstable Sandy Neck Natural Resource Officer Sean Kortis and Barnstable High School art teachers Abby Fay Smith and Matt Kemp. During the day the students observed baby diamondback terrapins saved by the Town’s conservation efforts, multiple tracks from a range of Sandy Neck fauna, explored the trails snaking through the maritime forest, gathered materials, and created a series of plein air sketches and wrote about their adventure. 

From this experience, the group created a range of artistic responses, utilizing a variety of techniques including photo collage, mixed media painting, traditional acrylic painting, printmaking, and sculpture. They tell the story of the interaction of two of Barnstable’s greatest resources:  the natural beauty of Sandy Neck and the bright, talented, and inspiring students of Barnstable High School.

For more information on the HYCC student artwork spotlight or the adult artist excursion program out at Sandy Neck Beach, email [email protected]
or visit on-line



Sandy Neck Beach Park art excursion:

Celita Cadet

Untitled Acrylic on canvas

            My overall experience at Sandy Neck was unexpectedly wonderful. Even though I’ve lived on the Cape the entirety of my life I never had the chance to see the complete beauty and complexity of Sandy Neck. Being able to share this experience with my peers made it that much more fun and adventurous. There is so much more to Sandy Neck than just sand and water. Behind those dunes is a whole world and ecosystem. The diverse plant life stood out to me the most and throughout the entire experience, I came in contact with more than I anticipated. 

            Free-writing outside of the House at the Halfway Point was one of my favorite parts of the trip. While there I was in a complete state of relaxation and peace. Just writing everything that I felt, heard and saw helped clear my mind from the stress of the world. What I wrote ended up turning into a poem that helped inspire me and had a great influence on what I want a viewer’s reaction to be to my piece.

            My attention was grabbed by the artist Wangechi Mutu who is known for her paints which are unusual complex collages. I found myself loving the repetition of somewhat creepy vines and tree branches. This is seen in my favorite piece from her “Le Noble Savage”. I originally wanted to try to incorporate her style into my piece by painting the trees.

            My art is directly a product of my pre-visit research, the view from the top of the dunes, as well as when some of my peers and I broke off from the group and went exploring behind the Midway house. My pre-visit research was focused on flora and fauna, and with that in mind, I paid extra attention to them on the trip. I found myself entranced by the magnificent view of the entirety from the highest dune. Behind the Midway house, we found a place with barren trees and small bodies of water.

            I chose to do my piece in acrylic paint because I believe it could capture my vision the best and my previous experience with it. I could really show the colors in a vibrant attention-grabbing way - the same way they do at Sandy Neck. I want to pull the viewer in and create the same mindset I had while I was there, which was fantastical. In the end, I wanted to create a character who was a protector and watches over the life of the marsh as well as living there. I made the plants and other things into homes as I took the fact that Sandy Neck houses a variety of species and twisted it in my mind so it will be home to real and imaginary/undiscovered creatures. Everything has so much life in complexity and I wanted to demonstrate that.


Triona Ferrie

Untitled  Watercolor, embroidery thread, wood, shells, canvas, flowers, ink

            My experience at Sandy Neck was very whimsical yet informative. I got to see a lot more than I thought I would. I loved seeing all of the autumn color of the beach. Most of the time when I go to Sandy Neck, I go to see the water; I had no idea that there was a whole world of trees and animals besides that. Things that came to mind during the free-writing session we had while we were there were random poems and words that all kind of spilt together. My inspiration was: different works by Teresa Barbosa and Hokusai’s Great Wave print. What really inspired my work was going back to Sandy Neck Beach in the early morning one Sunday to watch the sunrise and seeing all the color and the waves. The materials I used were somewhat inspired by Teresa Barbosa but the watercolor and the ink are of my own. I used watercolor because it’s difficult to control like the ocean itself.


Alison Kearney

Plant Life Acrylic, pen, and embroidery on canvas

            I loved the field trip to Sandy Neck Beach with my fine arts class in September. The weather was perfect and I enjoyed how it was just my class immersed in nature -- we had no classroom stress or other worries. The experience made me feel more connected with Cape Cod and the flora it has to offer. I like how we got to talk about what inspired us while on the trip and hear everyone’s ideas for their projects. While I was free-writing about the field trip, I thought about how lucky I am to live on Cape Cod. I will be going to college in the city next year and I know I will miss the beach even though I take it for granted. One of my favorite artists, James Jean, helped inspire this piece because I love his pen work and color choices. He draws flowers and other flora beautifully. James Jean and my love for plants inspired this piece. I knew I wanted to incorporate both plants and similar aspects of James Jean’s artwork into this project. Not only did I take elements from James Jean’s artworks, but I also wanted to use a new medium. I decided to make embroidery of a variety of different plants I saw there.


Samantha Van Gelder

Free Acrylic and embroidery on canvas

            I had a very relaxing experience at Sandy Neck Beach; I connected to nature and had a very peaceful trip. The ride along behind the dunes looking out across the marsh was amazing, and all of the plants and animals were very interesting.

            I had never seen Sandy Neck like this before; I always went to the beach but never thought about what was beyond the dunes. When I was free writing outside of the Midway House, I thought about how calm I was and the feeling of complete serenity being in nature gave me. I was inspired by Barry Van Dussen, who painted beautiful depictions of different kinds of birds. I was inspired by the shape of the swallow and how graceful they are. I really started to enjoy working with sewing and then decided to incorporate some acrylic. I used acrylic to create smaller details and the blackbirds in the background.


Elisha Watson

Outlook Collage and acrylic

            My experience going to Sandy Neck was really different from the original idea of what I had thought it would be. I was filled with seeing a whole different side of the landscape, not just the normal beach. It was filled with turtles, sparrows, bones, marsh, and dunes. What really stood out to me was that there really was a whole other side to it besides the beach and the fact that it’s not all just flat landscape, there’s several hills and dunes. When I was free writing I found myself comparing the side of Sandy Neck that was open to the public vs the side that’s private and how in order to protect certain parts of wildlife it’s necessary to separate the two. I got my idea from two different artists; Jackie Reeves and Rocio Montoya. I had visited Jackie’s studio and seen her artwork in the Cahoon Museum. She had explained that the work she was doing was focused around memories and sort of bringing them back to life on aluminum to make these really interesting pieces. I had researched Rocio Montoya because she piqued my interest with her work in collage. She uses photos that she’s taken herself and collages them with other images of nature, usually plants. Both artists really inspired me to instead of just doing a simple painting of a landscape do what I'm really interested in doing. I decided, like Rocio Montoya, to use my own/Mrs. Fay’s photos taken from Sandy Neck and collaging them. In the cabin we stopped at on the trip, I took a liking to the windows and was originally going to sew images of them onto canvas but had a change of mind. I still wanted to somehow keep the window idea though since it was my favorite part of the trip. My idea is to create six different and separate collages, each collage will use the pictures I took. I’ll then put the collages together as if they're the glass parts of one of the windows. I used my inspiration from Jackie Reeves’ work to make my own piece reflect like a memory. The window represents my favorite part of the trip and each collage will reflect some of my other favorite memories from the trip. The mediums that I'm using are collage and acrylic paint. I chose to use these mediums because I found that I’m most comfortable with them and really make my best work using them. This connects to my inspiration from Montoya in that when you’ve found things that work best for you, you’re able to adapt it to any criteria you are given to do. I’ve taken my inspiration and made it my own by using my own/Mrs.Fay’s images like Rocio.  My collages also reflect memories like Jackie had done in her own pieces.


Shaya Morales

SNK Stitch, Needlepoint embroidery sewn into unprimed canvas

            I remember the sun being so incredibly bright the day we visited Sandy Neck I was blinded. I felt so warm even with the crisp October breeze tossing my hair around into knots.  I sat in the back of the truck’s bed and was pleasantly toured around the private, serene off-road trails. It was a day I’ll always remember for its softness and profound beauty. I seldom spent time at Sandy Neck before this trip, brushing the beach off as merely another “tourist attraction”. To say I was proven wrong would be an understatement. When given the chance to sit down and reflect on everything I saw, I was overwhelmed with words and ideas brewing in my mind, spilling everything onto the page. I wrote about how Sandy Neck reminded me of Eden, resembling sacred and untouched land. I felt like I had been exposed to a side of Cape Cod I had never known even existed. When we explored different media in class, I was subconsciously drawn to the embroidery. My grandmother worked at Heartbeat Quilts until it was closed and then moved to Tumbleweeds. She didn’t just love needlepoint, quilting and sewing - she was fluent in the language of fabric and pattern. The familiarity of her life pulled me towards using it as the sole medium for this project. After reflecting at the Midway house, I made my way outside to bask in the sunlight upon the front steps. I sat there, rubbing the pad of my thumb against the butterfly ring on my pointer finger. In the silence, I thought about my grandmother for the first time in what had seemed to be months. The conservation reminded me of her, it brought a rosy smile to my cheeks the same way I did around her. I watched in awe as a monarch fluttered down, settling gracefully onto the goldenrods beside me. Those brief two minutes I spent admiring the delicate insect is what inspired my SNK Stitch. I had collected flora and fauna while venturing the trails, I wanted to keep the entire experience and press it into my sketchbook for safe-keeping. I decided upon using unprimed canvas as my base for needlepoint. The soft, tan texture of the fabric brought me right back to the warm sand that engulfed every crevice inside my worn-out Adidas. Taking inspiration from my grandmother, I hand-sewed the goldenrod and other fauna onto the canvas on separate patches. I wanted to make a crazy stitch and I wanted to make it in honor of my grandmother and all her beauty, serenity and warmth. I stitched together a patch of a pink monarch that will be sewn into the center of the quilt. I chose to make the wings a variation of pink to resemble cancer awareness. It’s been three years since she passed away and every September I miss her even deeper than the last. Her love will never fade from my heart, her essence and guidance will forever carry on within me. I miss her more than I can even begin to explain, but that’s a story for another time. I hope I can rightfully honor both Mary Hamblin and Sandy Neck in this piece. I tribute all my hard work to her and hope to create something that speaks deeper than anything else I’ve made in previous years at BHS.


Stephen Pond

A Different Life Watercolor, acrylic paint, feathers, and pastel

            This field trip helped me be more comfortable being in nature because before I used to just be an indoor person. Once I was able to just get away from everyday life and not worry about school for a day is what really helped me connect with my surroundings and have a whole different view towards the environment that I live in. The main thing that amazed me was the number of different plant species that call this place home. I think compared to my other visits to Sandy Neck the thing that stood out to me the most was the size of the park because in the past my family has only taken our boat to the beach near the lighthouse and it never really hit me that it's not just sand and a couple of houses, it is an entire ecosystem that is so vital to our community and we don't really seem to notice. I think the most important part of the experience was when we took those ten minutes to go off by ourselves and write about our experience. For me, that's when things really started to sink in. I was able to just enjoy my surroundings. What I wrote were my favorite things that we discovered during the trip like the animal bones because they gave me another impression of how this place is not always so peaceful. We may see it as a bad thing but it's what makes life so beautiful. Some people that inspired me for this project was Bjarke Ingels and Paolo Soleri Arcosanti who are architects that have shown alternate ways of creating habitats for people that create an environment harmonious with nature. I'm always looking for architects that can come up with new innovations that will help lower the impact on the environment by making more eco-friendly structures. What inspired my work the most was that I wanted to jump into the life of the turtles that we got to release into the water because I wanted to show what this world is like to the animals that live here. I wanted to show that even though they are just one species out of the thousands that live in Sandy Neck they are still important for this ecosystem to run. I wanted to show that nothing in this place is more important than the other from the animals to the plant life to the landscape. That's why I made the turtle shell to act as a bowl for the landscape and plant life to show that they are just as important. The Sparrow helps show the dark side of this world and how its part is important as well. For my medium, I used watercolor, acrylic paint, feathers, and pastel. I used watercolor to help remind the viewer of the ocean because it gives the background a wavy look. I used feathers for the sparrow because I wanted the viewer to have more of an interaction with this world by wanting to feel the piece. I used acrylic for the plant life because I wanted to be sure to get more detail in but still making it seem like its a memory. I used pastel because I wanted to experiment with something I have never really used in my artwork and it blended nicely on the turtle shell when I mixed it with water.

Alec Rogalski

Blue Box  Lino cut, watercolor and thread on wood

            I really enjoyed my time at Sandy Neck, having the opportunity to be surrounded by nature really opened my eyes to how peaceful and serene just listening can be. There is not a single thing I have a complaint about visiting Sandy Neck. Being able to have the experience of looking behind the scenes of somewhere I thought I was so familiar with really reminded me how I take the beauty and history of Sandy Neck, or Cape Cod in general, for granted. Not only was being able to understand the beauty of a marsh and something as simple as a blue box incredible, being able to release the diamondback terrapins into the swamp was such an amazing and inspiring experience to be a part of. When we were given the opportunity to sit and free write what we were feeling, I found myself enveloped in the sound of waves crashing in the distance behind me, and the insects chirping all around me. I originally expected myself to make a piece exploring more of the flora and fauna of the beach, but something about a bright blue, greenhead fly box trap within the nature of Sandy Neck really stood out to me. In my initial research, I found an artist, Adam Friedman, who changed how a landscape looked using bright and vibrant colors that you wouldn't typically see in a landscape piece. He took a “contemporary view of nature”. For my piece, I made three, different sized greenhead fly trap stamps. Stamping is a new technique I learned, using a printing block and a carving tool. I used blue acrylic paint to stamp on my two pieces of wood; I liked the messier look using the acrylic gave me, instead of the typical printing ink. I also used watercolor paint to stain the wood and eye hooks with string laced between them. Working with bright colors was my only inspiration that stayed throughout the processes of figuring out what I really wanted to do for this project. This was my first time doing a project as abstract as this, it was also the first time I felt as free doing a piece of art as I did with this one. During my time at Sandy Neck we spoke about how it is always changing and the land is always evolving, I wanted to show this in my piece by using repetition of the different sizes of the same object, stamping them in a more disorganized and messy way, changing my piece from, “oh it’s a blue box” to “I don’t know what’s going on”, because who knows what Sandy Neck will look like in 20 years, some of us may not even be able to recognize it. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on