Flotsam & Jetsam: Unique Outdoor Art Frames West River

Above the riverside lawn of the Captain Avery Museum in Shady Side, almost impossible to miss, is a collection of driftwood, bottle caps, flip-flops and other beached items, all attached to a wooden frame. It is both a photo shoot and an art installation.

“To frame anything, it all comes down to your perspective,” says Donna Anderson, programs and communications coordinator for the Captain Avery Museum.

Anderson explains that people have often taken a somewhat romantic view of the bay, particularly from the perspective of the museum lawn on the West River. By taking this point of view and framing it with debris, both natural and man-made, she aims to make viewers more aware of what they are putting in the water.

“Flotsam & Jetsam”, named after floating debris thrown from a ship, both unintentionally (flotsam) and intentionally (jetsam), is a collaborative art installation that invites museum visitors to better see the water at through a window constructed from our discarded objects,” says Leila Warshaw, the museum’s operations and office manager.

Warshaw says she hopes the article will remind people of their personal responsibility to consume mindfully when living in and around the bay. Warshaw feels a sense of stewardship and connection with the water looking through the timber frame.

“A little piece of trash might not be a big deal, but it does accumulate,” Warshaw said. “I think we can be more deliberate, more intentional with what we use and how we use it.”

Although the focus of the project has been conservation, there is a lighter side to how viewers can interact with the work, Anderson explains.

“The funny or fun part — not to hit them with a harsh message — is this silly idea of ​​people standing in the frame and taking pictures of themselves,” Anderson said.

While the border of the frame keeps the view of the room, visitors can still have a good time taking photos at the water’s edge to raise awareness.

“We are all exposed to enough information and public messages about what we need to do. This piece is fun…and a reminder of what they value and what’s beautiful here,” Anderson said.

Anderson got the ball rolling on “Flotsam & Jetsam” after receiving a County Council for the Arts grant from Anne Arundel. Based on a similar piece she had built in 2007 called “Rotten Rococo”, Anderson built the frame with the help of volunteers and lumber donated by the nearby Deale Hardware & Home Center.

Anderson said she aims to have the piece completed in time for display at the museum’s Oct. 15 Oyster Festival, one of its main events.

Guests are welcome to bring their own floating debris to “Flotsam & Jetsam”. Go around the building to the edge of the water where there is a yellow bin for the collection of dues. Hang around and tour the house to discover the stories of the communities that have lived and worked on the Chesapeake for the past 150 years.

For more information on visiting the museum, visit captainaverymuseum.org.

-Charlie Youngman