Pandemic Self Portrait - web

The Shoaling was slated to be displayed in its entirety from spring to fall of 2020 at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, New Jersey.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans and the exhibit had to be canceled due to the pandemic.

In the best and worst of life, an artist pivots to reach new creative places. And so this disappointment has made way for a new sculpture entitled “Pandemic Self Portrait.”

One day, we hope, the world will reopen and The Shoaling will be displayed. Until then, creativity persists. Keep visiting this site to stay in the loop on what’s next.


The Shoaling
is the culmination of William Durkin’s lifelong love of the water and its inhabitants. An assembly of dynamic, glimmering sculptures compels us to take a closer look at the beauty of our oceans, rivers, and lakes—and the great perils they are facing.

The video below introduces Durkin, his artistry and vision, and most importantly, his fish.



My vision comes from the visual language of fish and their beautiful spectrum of colors that is rarely seen by us in their habitats due to attenuation. When light enters water, its intensity quickly decreases and its color changes. So unless you’re in very clear waters light scatters and in the oceans particles diffuse light colors fading to grays.

My art brings together viewers seeing fish as they never have before and inhabitants now facing extinction – species that seek to evoke engagement through their beautiful spectacle. To stir our consciousness to be mindful of them before they’re gone.

Worldwide we are at the tipping point of the unimaginable, the inconceivable collapse of our ocean’s bounty which is now estimated to be at 30% of what it was 50 years ago and sometime during those 50 years the Western Pacific Garbage Patch began and is currently three times the size of France. The tragically haunting dichotomy of the situation is that these ‘world-wide crisis’ are out of sight out of mind.’ Recently I came across http://www.mare.de and received for the asking the most complete and user friendly books that can inform and educate us to our interrelationships with marine science and what the true status of our Oceans are. Or if you’re asking: if sustainability is possible with “the privatization of the fish in our oceans?” Lee Van Der Voo’s book ‘The Fish Market’ 2016 will take you through the ‘catch share program’ wins and losses to the market place delivering traceable and sustainable product to our dinner plates. She introduces us to ‘the logical thought leader in the fisheries’ world,’ Seth Macinko a small fisheries scientist who can enlighten us via YouTube as to what and why might be the last hope to save fishing. Lastly there are extraordinary efforts gearing up to battle the plastic epidemic: http://www.The Ocean Cleanup. com, Boyan Slat’s science and engineering endeavor and http://www.Universal Sea.org using Artistic interventions to enable the development of solutions that save our Ocean’s waters from plastic pollution.

As an artist who owned restaurants through the early eighties and up to a few years ago I witnessed the decline of one species after another in the Fulton Street Fish Market and in my travels. I’ll never  forget what I’ve seen and studied. It filters through me and fuels my art work with the ever hopeful emotion of engaging all people in the saving of our oceans, our life source. In my heart and soul I know the power of the written word and that art and music are the most compelling uplifting forces that can be used to affect change so clearly it’s now the time for all artists to illuminate, educate and show us individually and collectively how to contribute to saving our oceans, our blue.

signature - fish
william j. durkin


Spring 2019
The Emperor and The Empress appeared in the FOCUS: Gaia exhibit at the Woodstock Artists Association Museum (WAAM) from March 9th through March 31st as part of its centennial celebration. Click here to learn more about the exhibit.

Summer 2017
Selections from The Shoaling were featured in the 2017 Undercurrents exhibit at the Samuel Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz.  For more information, visit the museum’s website or read a word from the artist