Upcoming beach cleanups with Gallery North to sculpt a gem out of...

Upcoming beach cleanups with Gallery North to sculpt a gem out of trash

Photo from Gallery North

By Tara Mae

Beach trash becomes community treasure when Gallery North partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, Atlantic Marine Conservancy, and Center for Environmental Education and Discovery (CEED) to sponsor beach cleanups at the Flax Pond Tidal Wetland Area, 15 Shore Drive, Old Field on Saturday, April 27, and Smith Point Beach, 1 William Floyd Parkway,  Shirley on Sunday, April 28. 

Each clean-up will be conducted in two shifts starting at 9 a.m. and 10:30 am each day. Atlantic Marine Conservancy will provide 50 buckets and trash pickers to volunteers on a first come, first serves basis. 

The cleanups are the brainchild of artist Jack D’Ambrosio, a native of Shirley, who will upcycle gathered plastic garbage into a found object sculpture. With the presentation of repurposed refuse, he hopes to bring awareness to the ongoing dangers of plastic pollution.

“Art is a great way to spread a message and support a cause,” he said. 

Primarily a printmaker, beach cleanups are just one element of D’Ambrosio’s interest in supporting communities through artistic expression. His artistry is immersed in an awareness of illuminating social issues by centering often overlooked subjects. While previous print projects have incorporated found plastic, he has never worked on a sculpture of this scale before. Such an undertaking of reinvention offers D’Ambrosio the chance to create poetic permanence out of problematic potential, an outcome that intrigues Gallery North. 

“The beach cleanup is an opportunity for Gallery North to impact and beautify the community in a different way,” Executive Director Ned Puchner said. “We have never done anything like this before…beyond that, we will be helping to preserve the ecology of the area, making the waterways and beaches cleaner.”

Once the trash has been amassed, D’Ambrosio will sort it and share the loot on Gallery North’s social media. After properly disposing of the non-plastic items, he will clean the plastic articles for the sculpture, the design of which has yet to take shape. 

“I am waiting to see what we find,” D’Ambrosio explained.  Intended to be a permanent installation, the sculpture’s final home is also yet to be determined. “This is a project of many partners, and once plans are drawn up, I will collaborate with one of them to find a location for the piece,” he added. 

A recipient of Gallery North’s 2023 Carmela Kolman Fellowship in Fine Art, in his application D’Ambrosio initially proposed the cleanup and its culmination. 

“Jack shared his desire to involve the community in a beach clean up when he applied for the fellowship and that excited the committee…We were moved by the conceptual aspect of Jack’s work. His idea to use art to educate the community on stewardship interested us,” Gallery North Education Director Larissa Grass said. 

At its core, the beach cleanup/sculpture exercise underscores the need for individual engagement and interpersonal cooperation to ensure the environment and art do not just survive, but thrive. 

“During the pandemic, I went to the beach seeking inspiration. Instead I found garbage. This experience made me want to do something with it, since it will never, ever go away,” D’Ambrosio said. “…I really encourage people to come join us on this journey.”

The clean-ups will be a rain or shine event. Pre-registration is encouraged by visiting www.gallerynorth.org. For more information, call 631-751-2676.


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