Art Series: Accumulation, Lobster Trap, Blue Wave I, Blue Wave II

By Erin Coughlin


Artist Statement

Growing up and going to college in Maine, the coast has been an important part of my life. The shapes, colors, sounds, and atmosphere all resonate with me in different ways. As an environmental scientist, I have studied the coast and become even more familiar with its subtleties – what lives in the water, how pollution affects organisms as small as plankton, and how the rocky coast was formed, for example. Creating drawings, watercolors, and prints of the coast helps me understand, remember, and connect to the environment around me. My art takes the intangible feelings I experience and turn them into concrete ideas.

There is great value in sitting with a place and immersing myself in it. Close observation helps me notice and document the change of a place, whether due to seasons, climate change, or weather. The images in my prints are often places and objects that I have spent a long time observing and appreciating, and although the final print may not look like the object, it captures the feelings and atmosphere I experienced in that moment. 

While walking the coast of Allen Island, I found that much of it was covered in trash. These brightly colored pieces stood out from the gray beaches and dominated the scenery, so I found myself drawing the debris just as often as I drew the natural elements.

This is where my inspiration for Accumulation and Lobster Trap began. During my time living and working on Allen Island, I trained an AI model to recognize trash in drone images of the island. These drone images, along with days spent walking the coastline, inspired the two prints. Accumulation depicts various colorful pieces of debris (mainly plastic) as well as layers of driftwood in black. Lobster Trap highlights one piece of debris that I found particularly interesting. The colorful, twisted shapes of lobster trap fragments continuously caught my eye. Each piece was uniquely shaped and stood out from the gray stones of the beaches. 

Blue Wave I & II were born out of my observations of the waves on the rocky coast of Maine. I was captivated by the strength and movement of the waves, as well as their textures and colors. I continue to struggle with representing the sheer amount of power in these waves, and the prints, to some extent, cannot do it justice. These two prints, to me, represent the playful waves I would watch in the summer. While they are still full of energy, they pale in comparison to the forceful waves of winter.




Lobster Trap


Blue Wave I & Blue Wave II