Melissa H. Chartrand, Barnstable Planning & Development’s Arts & Culture Coordinator

The “Artist Spotlight” program displays the works of local artists on meeting room walls in Barnstable Town Hall.   This April through June, the walls feature the works of two artists, Susan Fey and Sarah Thornington.  Their works are featured in the James H. Crocker, Jr. Hearing Room and Selectmen’s Conference Room in Barnstable Town Hall, April 14 through June 30, 2023.  The exhibition is open to the public.  Town Hall is open Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm (except State and Federal holidays).  Town Hall is located at 367 Main Street, Hyannis, free parking in the Town Hall public parking lot.  Enter Town Hall through the front doors on the Hyannis Village Green entrance.


An opening reception will be held on Friday, April 14, from 4:00pm-6:00pm. Come meet the artists and learn more about the stories and process behind the works! Sarah Thornington will give a quick presentation from 5:15pm-5:30pm, “Can Art Save the Planet.”  This reception is free and open to the public.

Artwork may be viewed virtually on the website:


Susan Fey:
“I think of all abstract expression as a kind of subconscious reckoning with the surprising collection of certainties and uncertainties that make each of us unique, remarkable and beautifully flawed. I have been drawn, unaccountably, to coastlines and little wooden boats since I was a child. Echoes of these embedded influences exist in my work, regardless of my conscious intention. I’m happy about that.”

Sarah Jane Thornington:
“I am passionate about saving the planet and all its many creatures, including us humans. I am a local conservation artist who works with marine-debris I clean off local beaches along with found or repurposed items; I am also a portrait photographer at The Studio by the Sea. I accidentally started my marine-debris art journey over 4 years ago when I did a beach clean-up every day for a year and had to find something to do with the almost 21,000 pieces of plastic I found, cleaned, and sorted; I started creating with it all and just hasn’t stopped. My journey is mostly all about bringing and keeping awareness on the global plastic pollution issues and starting conversations about ways to help.”



Abstract image in various shades of black, gray, and natural hues

“I have been mesmerized by the depth, richness and textural complexity of oil and cold wax paintings, from the first time I encountered this medium.  Cold wax medium is basically bees wax and mineral spirits, and is roughly the texture of cooking lard. It imparts body and translucency to oil pigments, and lends itself to building complex and subtle surfaces. I work with scrapers, palette knives, brayers, etching tools and transfer techniques to build ‘history’ on a canvas. Generally I begin without a plan, allowing the process to evolve spontaneously until a painting begins to assert itself. Something will become, (psychologically) recognizable and I then work to resolve the composition without extinguishing its essence.”

“I recently started experimenting with combining photos of my paintings with landscape photos that have been pushed toward abstraction. ‘Pairings’ describes the evocative fusion of these original elements into something new and unique. They are printed on aluminum which enhances their ethereal quality.”

Sarah Thornington: “Hope is Not Passive”
“Hope is Not Passive”: Sarah’s exhibit is part of her “Hope is Not Passive Tour” which began last year, and has been exhibited across the Cape, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Sarah believes that we must have hope that we still have time to save our planet and all the creatures on it – including humans, but that hope is not passive. Hope is an action word, it requires us to act and make changes to bring about change. The art is made from marine-debris found on local beaches, photographs with marine-debris sculptures and photographs of found items. Sarah views her beach finds sort of like a Victorian collection, just of natural and ‘un’natural items. She likes to show the degradation to objects caused by the power of the sea and is interested in items that are the same or vary by only colour, state of decay or other individual characteristics. Beach cleaning is an odd sort of archeological quest, unfortunately, what we leave behind when it comes to plastic, will outlast us all.

You can find the documentation of Sarah’s 365-day beach clean-up project, along with her continuing marine-debris art journey at @EbbTheTide on Instagram.

Artwork is displayed in the James H. Crocker, Jr. Hearing Room and the Selectmen’s Conference Room, 2nd floor in Barnstable Town Hall, 367 Main Street, Hyannis.
Artwork may be viewed virtually at   For more information on this program email  508-862-4767 l