Imagining a Whole New Shape of the Vineyard

While it’s important that we engage in a serious discussion about the future of the Island – as we did in the August edition of the magazine – it’s also nice occasionally to look on the lighter side.

Whether it happens with decades worth of coastal erosion and rising sea levels or one devastating hurricane, things here are changing. The cliffs on the south shore will slowly plop or dramatically plunge into the ocean. Houses on hills will conceivably gain close-up water views, and new breaches and openings and closings and who knows what else will transform the Island until Martha’s Vineyard no longer looks like Martha’s Vineyard. It’s hard to imagine.

What if the new Martha’s Vineyard looks like a head of lettuce? A head of lettuce is by no means a bad shape, it could be quite lovely, but it’s less poetic than the triangular ship floating under Cape Cod that we have now.

It’s possible that the shape of Martha’s Vineyard as it is now is an asset. Would people be as drawn to this Island if it looked like a jellyfish? Or would their subconscious send them to Nantucket instead? Conversely, would they flock here in unmanageable numbers if the Island looked like a microphone? Legions of people might be motivated to book ferry reservations, because they’d be dreaming of being serenaded by Carly Simon or James Taylor.

 We’ve taken this opportunity to look on the light side and posed an art challenge to some people in the Vineyard community. We wanted to know what they would want Martha’s Vineyard to look like if the shape of the Island had to change. We asked them to put science aside and draw from their imaginations. As you can see, the artists for this project came up with distinctly different images.

Michael Wooley
Swim instructor, artist
Oak Bluffs

“I am forever inspired by the sea and the ocean. It is my work and that which inspires me. The life that lives within it comes in many forms. The sea horse, one of my favorite beings in the sea, reminds me of Martha’s Vineyard and where I always want to be.”

Lena Hanschka
Eight-year-old student

Cindy Kane

Lena and Cindy had planned to submit separate pieces for this project. But before either had started, a collaboration developed when Cindy saw a picture that Lena had made. “I made it with a pendulum,” explains Lena. “The shape reminds me of a whirlpool, where when you get to the end you’re nothing. It’s like a lifeline.” Cindy had been thinking about just this kind of image. “She had already executed my idea perfectly,” says Cindy, who then took Lena’s picture and added a watery blue background. “My vision for the Island was inspired by artist Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. It disappeared under the lake for many years and then mysteriously reemerged.”

Niki Patton
Musician, writer, actress, producer
West Tisbury

“One of the most joyful and unique things about the Vineyard is its wealth of artists and creativity in many fields. I’d also like to turn the Island into a book, dance, play, painting, and film, but a guitar happens to match our shape perfectly. As a matter of fact, I think Fender actually made a couple of guitars that looked like this.”

Meg Mercier

“I imagined myself in the sky looking down on the Vineyard, and I saw how the Island could turn into a bunch of grapes with East Beach as the vine.”

Maddy Alley
Nine-year-old student
Oak Bluffs

“I think that the Island should be in the shape of a dog, because I love dogs. I think it would be cool to live on an island shaped like a dog.”

Dr. Charles Silberstein
West Tisbury

After splashing paint on paper then folding it in half, Dr. Silberstein made a Rorschach test of sorts. It’s clear that to him, the new shape of Martha’s Vineyard will look like “a butterfly…or a stingray…or two eyes peering out from a cave…or a very muscular female ninja dressed in drag, sporting a phallus on her head while giving birth to a very cute baby who is trying to suckle.”