Ian Sokolowski '20

Ian Sokolowski

Name: Ian Sokolowski
Bio: Ian Sokolowski is a senior in the FCLC Honors Program originally from Hinsdale, Illinois. He's been doodling all over everything since he could hold a pen, and has been dreaming of drawing a comic book for almost as long. After graduation he hopes to stay in New York City, work in science communication, and buy a motorcycle (if his mom lets him). 

Major: Environmental Science 
Title: Full Shell: A Brief Cartoon History of New York's Oysters
Mentor: Dr. Steven Stoll 
Abstract: Combining environmental history with visual storytelling, Full Shell attempts to tell the story of Crassostrea virginica, the oysters that once surrounded New York. Though once ubiquitous in the waters around the island of Manhattan, wild oysters have all but disappeared in the centuries following colonization, thought of now simply as food. Their tragic story tracks onto human activity, the creation of New York City, and the ensuing overexploitation, habitat destruction, and pollution. This book sought to tell this story with stylized art in an attempt to bridge the "charisma gap" between oysters and people, a gap that often impedes attempts at conservation and fundraising. Animals such as polar bears, dolphins, or falcons all wield substantial charisma, and it's not difficult for the general public to get excited about efforts to conserve them. Oysters, thanks to their somewhat alien appearance and status as a culinary delicacy, are rarely met with a similar level of emotional investment. The book therefore portrays the oysters through stylized, anthropomorphized cartoons, and employs a clear cyclic format to illustrate the passage of time in NYC. Thanks to the somewhat unconventional format of the project, the results of this graphic experiment cannot be summed up in this abstract, and are for the reader to decide.