The Arctic Circle Residency, October 2016

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If this post is too long to hold your interest, please skip to the movie at the end.

The ArcticCircle.org is a residency program for creatives of all types on board a tall ship that sails in the international waters of Svalbard, north of Norway. The program’s mission statement says “the Arctic Circle is a nexus where art intersects science, architecture, education, and activism – an incubator for thought and experimentation for artists and innovators who seek out and foster areas of collaboration to engage in the central issues of our time.” Yea, I didn’t really know how that would translate into my time on the ship either. Basically, participants either brought supplies for experiments or projects that they worked on during our journey, or like me, just came to experience the trip and to work from those experiences later. There was an opportunity to disembark at different shorelines, glaciers, or areas of interest twice a day unless we were sailing. There were some epic hikes, a visit to an abandoned Soviet era mining town, a visit to small research station at 79° north, a visit to Smeerenberg, the site of a 17th century whaling outpost, slide presentations of our work at night, occasional dancing on the deck, nighttime viewings of the aurora above the masts, a costume party, and lots of sailing.

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I was driving by the frozen river on a winding road on my way to cross country ski with my dogs last Sunday. The sun was shining and flakes of snow were falling off of the trees and catching the sunlight. Some high, echoing piano notes were repeating on the radio. I used the Shazam app on my iPhone to find that the song was “Wash.” by Bon Iver. The notes sounded poignant and lilting and like a memory. They sounded to me like light green, and the sound matched the feeling of the flakes of snow catching the sun, and described the heartache of loss. I knew then exactly where to go with the canvas that had been sitting unfinished in my studio.

The painting, a 6’ x 9’ panel, was faintly sky blue covered by layers of dark drips. While listening to the song I got the idea to cover the blue with a spare, transparent wash of light spring green, turning the painting into a fresh forest, but one that is melting and dissolving and haunted by a few out of season snowflakes flying amidst the greenery. The snow over full green represents the sad fact of our climate turned upside down: snow in summer, heat in the winter, freezes in the tropics, heat at the poles, tornadoes and storms and all of the upheavals of a pained planet. I want the piece to be sensuously beautiful but to also give the viewer a jab, like the feeling you get when a beautiful bird smacks your window and falls. I want the piece to look delicate but slightly wrong, and to be evocative of loss. I want the piece to be eloquent and poignant. (more…)

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Humanity, Earth, Intention, and Consequences

fritz_haberShortly after composing my last artist statement, I came upon this podcast while listening to old episodes of my favorite audio show, Radiolab. The show fascinated and stunned me, because it so very much provided a clear and timely example of the very complex relationship I have been exploring between humanity, earth, intention, and consequences. As I listened to it in my studio I actually got goose bumps on my arms. If you take a few minutes to hear the segment  you will have a clear understanding of my current 2013 work. (more…)

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Us, Science, Art, Earth

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Our relationship to the world we live in has changed exponentially and rapidly.  Nature, once bigger than humanity, is now a tool, a resource, an infected organism and a fragmented system. Buy it, sell it, use it. We alter genetic codes, shape the climate, patent genes, change the course of evolution and create artificial life. We wipe out entire species and ecosystems and turn the ramifications into political arguments. Basically, we shit where we eat. The idea of “nature” as a broad, controlling and creative force in the universe seems quaint and secondary. To contemplate nature in this era is to examine its qualities and possibilities: its patterns and symmetry, its randomness, fragility, and interconnectedness, its unavoidability, its potential. (more…)

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