Crassostrea virginica
Plaster, resin, wood
2015

In conjunction with the Isles Arts Initiative, a summer-long public art series taking place in different areas of Boston highlighting the 34 Boston Harbor Islands.  The show "34" at Boston Sculptors Gallery includes 34 regional artists each responding to one of the 34 Boston Harbor Islands.

In the spring and early summer, Snake Island, one of 24 small islands within Boston Harbor, is off limits to visitors in order to project nesting American Oystercatchers, a shy, sensitive, migratory bird that returns to Boston Harbor each year to reproduce. Due to its habitat, Snake Island is home to the highest concentration of American Oystercatchers in Boston Harbor compared to any of the other Harbor Islands. 

Evidenced by their name, the American Oystercatcher’s main food source was once the abundant eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica. Now the Oystercatcher relies on other bivalves, such as clams and muscles, since the oyster population in Boston Harbor has nearly vanished due to over-harvesting, landfilling, and pollution, affecting a variety of species.

Efforts have been made to re-introduce Crassostrea virginica to naturally clean and restore Boston Harbor. Powerful water purifiers, each oyster can filter up to 30 gallons of water per day offsetting impact from sewer overflows and other manmade pollutants. Their shallow reefs provide food, shelter, and spawning grounds for a diversity of coastal species. Snake Island is a potential candidate for oyster re-introduction, due to its shallow marshes, which would benefit the ecology of Snake Island, its Oystercatchers, and Boston Harbor.                                                        

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“Allison Cekala comes at Snake Island, site of a nesting project for American oystercatchers, from an environmental standpoint. Oysters are all but gone from Boston Harbor, so the migratory bird feeds on clams and mussels. Efforts might be made to reintroduce oysters on the island. Cekala charmingly blends the two breeding grounds in a bird’s nest filled with plaster oysters.” –The Boston Globe

"History, fantasy evoked in Sculptors Gallery show" --The Boston Globe