Kent Island Summer: Students Bring Island Life to Campus

A summer retrospective by Kent Island fellows can currently be seen in Smith Union’s Lamarche Gallery.

While some of the works in the new Kent Island show were made by the student artists who lived on the island this summer, the science fellows, too, contributed original pieces to the show. They said they had been inspired by the island’s isolation and beauty, and by the introspective group of students they lived with.

Kent Island is located in the Bay of Fundy, about twenty miles off the coast of Maine. Fog-shrouded mornings emphasize the island’s remoteness. Mist greets the island residents nearly every day in the summer.

“Since the island runs on solar, if the sun doesn’t come out, our phones can’t charge,” said Emma Greenberg ’18. “You depend on the island and its environment.” Greenberg first researched green crabs on Kent Island the summer after her first year at Bowdoin and returned this past summer with a project on storm petrels. One of her featured photographs is of a diving bird, its head submerged and wings outstretched.

Greenberg cites the group dynamic as another major creative influence. “You have a lot of time to be alone, so you have a lot of time to think,” she said. “But also our group as a whole spent a lot of time reflecting and considering nature and the time we have together.”


Although the group came together for group meals and euchre tournaments, a card game brought to the island by Canadian graduate students, much of the students’ time was spent alone. Kent Island is small but offers a variety of landscapes, from a spindly forest to mossy outcroppings and docks on the Atlantic.

Zoe Wood ’18 — another summer science fellow — resolved to paint or draw something every day she was on the island. Unlike her days at Bowdoin, there was little for her to do other than self-guided projects. Her research focused on the plant preferences of the meadow spittlebug, but her art captured the pristine stillness of the island.

Wood was a point person for the Lamarche exhibition, helping student curators collect submissions from fellowship recipients. Curators Jenny Ibsen ’18 and Eliza Goodpasture ’18 reached out to her because they wanted an exhibition that featured an interdisciplinary talk about the life and work on Kent Island.

At the recent show opening, a soundtrack of the ocean and gulls filled the Lamarche Gallery with the ambiance of an afternoon on Kent Island. The gallery, nestled in a corner of Smith Union, felt a world away as Assistant Professor of Biology Patricia Jones, who is the incoming director of the Bowdoin Scientific Station (BSS) on Kent Island, spoke about the island’s opportunities.

Jones was enthusiastic about the prospect of interdisciplinary studies at BSS and the visibility the Lamarche Gallery afforded liberal arts projects on the island. “Generally, I think art is a really fantastic way to communicate science,” she said.

“At a liberal arts college especially, that bridge between art and science — and being able to use art to communicate science — is really important to our mission and the station as a whole, because it brings students from all different disciplines together.” Jones said she sees potential for projects on history, archeology, government, and fishery economics, as well as for creative writing, poetry and musical projects.

“I would like to increase awareness for Kent Island across Bowdoin’s campus and provide opportunities for these really diverse projects,” she said.

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