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Eco Mural Project 5: Wetlands, DEco Mural Project 8: Chesapeake’s Bounty,

Painted and designed by Katie Lillard and the 2019 Public Art Class of Wye River Upper School in partnership with Hagopian Arts and Kent County Arts Council, The Mainstay, Rock Hall, MD

    Hagopian Arts presents its eighth installment in the Eco Mural Project, “Chesapeake’s Bounty.” This piece was our first collaboration with an outside arts program, and designed and painted by Katie Lillard and the 2019 Public Art Class at Wye River Upper School with Hagopian Arts’s guidance. Through a grant from Kent County Arts Council, this public art piece was installed at the Mainstay in Rock Hall, Maryland, in the spring of 2019. 

This mural beautifully expresses the biodiversity found in one of America’s most significant historical environments. The Chesapeake was the site of the first American settlement at Jamestown in 1607, and supported the growth of colonists during their secession from the British in the next century. The bay is also a precious biosphere that is currently suffering from the effects of environmental degradation, climate change, and pollution.

     The Chesapeake owes its biodiversity to its position as an intermediary ecosystem between the mighty Atlantic Ocean and the shores of North America’s East Coast. The bay is a mix of saltwater and freshwater, supporting over 3,600 species of plant and animal life. Over 40 rivers link to the Chesapeake, making it an invaluable resource not only to the species who call it home but to the millions of people who live in and around its shores. “Chesapeake’s Bounty” offers a small peek into the area’s biodiversity: this includes a blue heron, rockfish, a blue claw crab, oysters, an osprey carrying a menhaden, black-eyed Susans, and a Maryland checkerspot butterfly. These species reflect the wide range of wildlife that call the Chesapeake their home, existing in a careful symbiotic balance that is easily tipped.

     The Chesapeake is currently at risk due to several factors. The delicate balance between freshwater and saltwater is easily disturbed by runoff pollution caused by the 18 million residents of the Chesapeake watershed. Overfishing, shoreline and marshland degradation, industrial pollution, and development along the estuary have caused significant damage to the bay, causing notable declines in its species and water quality. As it stands, only 22% of the bay is protected by the government for conservation. It’s important that we raise this number, and support environmental organizations that have made it their mission to ensure the bay is preserved for future generations and the health of the East Coast.

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