Artist in Residence Highlights 2016

 

Arctic Refuge Wilderness
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Natalya Zahn | Mixed media/watercolorist from Cambridge, MA

 

Natalya Zahn in Arctic Refuge. Tyra's illustrated kayak map of Rudyerd Bay."In July of 2016 I traveled to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as an artist in residence, through the Voices of the Wilderness Program (VOTW). The seven days spent camping on the summer tundra, amid shed caribou antlers, wolf tracks, and 24-7 daylight, was some of the most peaceful and impactful time I’ve been privileged to experience in a long while. The opportunity to completely unplug from civilization and connect instead with a landscape - so foreign and so limitless - using the steady, quiet but fierce heartbeat of the place to inform my sketchbook, was one that will inspire studio projects for years to come.

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As an artist with a fascination for science and the technical workings of life, my pairing with a group of professional field biologists was nothing short of a dream come true - no ecological question was left unanswered, no species identification missed. Most importantly, bearing witness to a wilderness on the front lines of climate shift, and seeing firsthand the gradual but cascading effects of something as simple as rising temperatures (air, water, earth) brought a sense of immediacy to all that I do as an artist of nature. If I use my daily creative practice as an instrument to spark an audience’s sense of wonder, curiosity, and compassion for the natural world, my reflection on the VOTW program will serve to shape that practice ever more enthusiastically in the direction of celebrating and preserving those most vulnerable regions and organisms of our changing planet. My deepest gratitude to all those who had a hand in getting me to Alaska last summer, and to the intrepid field scientists who generously allowed me to tag along on their Arctic adventure."

Community Extension: Natalya will give a talk in January 2017 at the local Cambridge library about her artist residency. She also give a presentation at Lesley College of Art and Design in early spring where she is an instructor. 

Artist Donation:  Natalya will donate a children’s activity booklet. This booklet will focus on organisms such as bees, beetles, and flies, which all serve as key pieces of the food chain and help break down carcasses after death. Some of these species are being more strongly affected by climate change than others.  The booklet will be available for download off the Arctic Refuge website.

Stewardship Projects:

Natalya joined biological staff with a variety of field projects including:

  • Monitoring sites to determine changing topography
  • Sampling plots to measure plant species occurrence.
  • Collecting bones and antlers to determine how changes in climate patterns may influence the distribution of caribou herds

Artist website: natalya.com


Arctic Refuge Wilderness
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Lindsay Carron | Pen and Ink artist from Los Angeles, CA

 

Lindsay Carron sketches the landscape. Lindsay Carron's donated artwork."For two weeks, I traveled with the US Fish and Wildlife Service as an artist in residence to Arctic Village, a village of 120 Gwich’in people, and into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. At 19 million acres, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest in the country, and is located entirely above the Arctic Circle. It is a land of strong contrasts, all at once vast and untouched, and still altered by climate change and the continued use of resources. By walking upon this land alongside the people who have existed here for a thousand generations, my ideals were tempered, yet my inspiration soared.

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While in Arctic Village, I partook in their bi-annual Gathering, listening to talks about protecting the Porcupine Caribou herd, their culture, and their subsistence way of life.  I ate caribou and moose for every meal and danced all night to fiddle tunes by Gwich’in elder Trimble Gilbert.  I had the honor to draw portraits of the elders and the joy of painting a canvas mural with the kids.  Over only a few days, we had become a family.

In the Refuge, the energy of being around all the new humans settled and a persistent silence took over.  We camped on the wind-whipped Sheenjek Valley, surrounded by rugged mountains and stunted spruce forest.  Every day I found myself dropping deeper into wilderness and becoming more humble with every step.  We followed paths carved by caribou, sheep, and bear and drank water fresh from springs bursting from rock.  My guide, Roger Kaye, fed me with his extensive knowledge on the history of the land, animals and people of the Arctic and swayed my heart with strong messages around the Wilderness Ethic.  Over those several days in communion with this vast, wild place, Arctic Refuge became a symbol of pure freedom: a freedom that must live on.

Traveling to these remote locations and being altered by the land, animals and people is a gift I know only one way to fully repay: with my creations. The final pieces I created are owned and used by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for education, inspiration, Native relations, and activism.”

Community Extension: Lindsay’s portraits are being sent to the elders in Arctic Village and Venetie, and her final piece is being used in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lectures and reproductions gifted to the Native communities of the area.  She has published an illustrated and photographed narrative of her time on her website and plans on curating an art show featuring artists who travel and the stories that they carry.  Ignited with a passion for protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, she has signed petitions and shared her stories with politicians and organizations.

Artist Donation:  "As Above So Below: Arctic Village and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge", a framed 20x30” ink and colored pencil illustration on Alaska topographic map.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Assisted Wilderness Coordinator Roger Kaye with visitor surveys in the Refuge; she visited Arctic Village and the Sheenjek.

Artist website: http://lindsaycarron.com


Innoko Wilderness
Innoko National Wildlife Refuge

Dan Branch | Writer from Juneau, AK


Innoko Wilderness
Innoko National Wildlife Refuge

Rachel Frank, Scultptor/Performance Artist from Brooklyn, NY

 

Frank and Branch standing near beautiful wildflowers. The Wood Bison in the Innoko Region.“In 2015, a population of wood bison was reintroduced into the Innoko region, marking the first time in over a century this species has lived in the United States. As an artist whose work explores the environmental practice of rewilding, I was excited to travel down the Yukon and Innoko Rivers in search of these animals. On our journey, we stopped in many of the villages bordering the refuge, speaking with local people about the bison and their impact on the future. We camped on shorelines and woke to the sounds of swans migrating overhead or wolves in the distance. In the heat of the summer sun, we found traces of bison hair caught in sticker bushes off the banks of the river and discovered footprints and wallows in fields. On one of the last days of the residency, we finally found a single bull: we watched as he grazed and wallowed in a field before leaving the refuge behind.”

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Community Extension: In Galena, Rachel led two workshops with children and adults, making masks of animals that are indigenous to Alaska. The environmental concept of rewilding, the history of the bison in North America, the role of keystone species on the ecosystem, and the recent reintroduction of wood bison to the Innoko region were points of discussion. Additionally, in Brooklyn, NY, she gave a lecture and a radio interview on the environmental concept of rewilding, the recent reintroduction of wood bison to the Innoko region, and the importance of keystone species. She also shared her experiences traveling through the refuge and meeting with refuge managers, biologists, Fish & Game, and the village communities that border the refuge.

Artist Donation: Rachel donated an educational collage about the reintroduction/rewilding of the wood bison to the Innoko Region and its role as a keystone species in the ecosystem. The collage combined drawing, text, and photos from her residency.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Traveled through the refuge, shadowing USFWS refuge managers, biologists, Fish & Game, and the village communities that border the refuge.
  • Floated the Yukon and Innoko Rivers in search of reintroduced wood bison. 
Artist website: www.rachelfrank.com

Kootznoowoo Wilderness
Tongass National Forest

Jay Crosby | Mixed media illustrator/Digital Photographer from Gotha, FL

 

Jay Crosby sitting next to the river drawing. a framed 20”x20” illustration “The Next Generation” which features a brown bear and her two spring cubs, which he observed in the field almost every day at Pack Creek."In July 2016 I spent a week and a half in the Kootznoowoo Wilderness of Admiralty Island working as an artist in residence alongside members of the USFS and Fish and Wildlife.  The first half of my residency was spent at the Pack Creek area, where summer visitors can watch Alaskan brown bears fish for salmon and dig for clams in the mud flats. I spent 4-6 hours every day watching subadults wrestle each other in the sedge grass, while a sow with spring cubs chased away approaching bears from her favorite fishing spots.  I spent my time recording observations in my sketchbook, taking photos, and exploring the surrounding areas with my knowledgeable guides.

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The second half of my residency was spent at Lake Alexander, where I assisted members of the forest service with trail work.  We saw few other humans during our time at Lake Alexander, and I was able to immerse myself in the solitude of the Tongass, while experiencing firsthand the lifestyle that accompanies working in the field. 

While I only saw a sliver of Admiralty Island, I was touched deeply by the intimate moments that I experienced there, such as the sow who nursed her cubs on the flats after the tour group had left, or the mink foraging at low tide who playfully rolled around on a tarp next to where I was sketching, while hummingbirds paused to check out my bright red rain jacket.  The aerial views of the towering spruce trees and pristine lakes from the floatplane will always stay with me, these images and many others will continue to inspire how I approach my work for years to come."

Community Extension: Jay displayed his work as a guest artist at Young Artists Group Gallery at Cityarts Factory in downtown Orlando, FL.  The show was titled “The Narrative Image” and featured young artists from local schools.  As a guest artist, Jay was able to display one of his finished studio pieces as well as some of the work he created on-site in his sketchbook, as well as an artist statement which described his experience as a VOTW AIR and the importance of such programs, especially pertaining to young emerging artists and advocates for conservation. Jay also plans on creating a zine in 2017 that includes his studio work, sketchwork, photos, and writings which will be made available online and locally.

Artist Donation:  Jay donated a framed 20”x20” illustration “The Next Generation” which features a brown bear and her two spring cubs, which he observed in the field almost every day at Pack Creek.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Accompanied members of USFS and Fish and Wildlife during their management of the Pack Creek bear viewing area.
  • Assisted USFS members in rebuilding an old trail near Lake Alexander. 

Artist website:  www.jaycrosbyillustration.com


Misty Fiords National Monument
Tongass National Forest

Tyra Olstad, Cartographer from Oneonta, NY

 

Tyra sea kayaking at Misty Fiords National Monument. Tyra's illustrated kayak map of Rudyerd Bay."Scribbled notes from my residency at Misty Fiords read as exclamations—Touched a waterfall! Kayaked through whitecaps! Held a jellyfish!—but my sketches are all questions: How to draw mist, constantly swirling? How to fit soaring fiords onto a small flat page? How to capture the rhythm of tides, the scent of salt, the taste of berries, the snorts of seals?

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To try to answer these questions in the form of a hand-drawn map, I’ve been reviewing my notes, sketches, photos, and audio recordings (mostly of silence, waiting for loons to resurface) and ruminating on memories from the journey—memories of the place and memories of thought-provoking conversations with the knowledgeable, dedicated backcountry rangers who are committed to protecting and celebrating it.  The opportunity to travel with and learn from the rangers, plus the magic and mystery of the mist-draped fiords themselves, made for a rich, enlightening experience.

My map is intended to depict what I learned and felt during the residency, and, more importantly, to inspire others to go to Misty Fiords—to kayak, camp, have their own experiences, ask their own questions, and exclaim at the wonder and wildness of it all."

Community Extension: Tyra is a professor of environmental studies at SUNY Oneonta. She will be developing class lessons about wilderness management, along with geological coursework, for the university students and colleagues.  She will also present to the Association of American Geographers and Adirondack High Peaks Information Center.  Additionally, she is writing an article for the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Artist Donation:  Tyra has created an illustrated kayak map of Rudyerd Bay.  It includes scenic features, campsite information, and trail/shelter locations, and will be used as an outreach tool. (Click the photo for a larger version of her map)

Stewardship Projects:

  • Joined 2 rangers in kayak monitoring and recreation site inventorying
  • Solitude monitoring

Artist website:  taolstad.blogspot.com

Misty Fiords National Monument Wilderness (PDF)

Tongass National Forest website


Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area
Chugach National Forest

Beau Sylte | Videographer from Bothell, WA

 

Beau Sylte enjoying the beauty of Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area. Beau Sylte shares the beauty of Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area.I was able to get a very good picture of the Nellie Juan College Fiord Wilderness Study area during my time there as a volunteer filmmaker. From public boat tours of distant fjords, to camping on beautiful beaches with Wilderness rangers, I was able to aim my lenses at some incredible scenery, not to mention hearing the incredible story of the NJ-WSA.

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To try to answer these questions in the form of a hand-drawn map, I’ve been reviewing my notes, sketches, photos, and audio recordings (mostly of silence, waiting for loons to resurface) and ruminating on memories from the journey—memories of the place and memories of thought-provoking conversations with the knowledgeable, dedicated backcountry rangers who are committed to protecting and celebrating it.  The opportunity to travel with and learn from the rangers, plus the magic and mystery of the mist-draped fiords themselves, made for a rich, enlightening experience.

After spending almost two weeks in the Nellie Juan, I can say without a doubt that it is by far one of the most beautiful places in Alaska. More tidewater glaciers than anywhere else, the farthest North temperate rainforest, thousands of miles of coastline. When the sun was shining, there was no lack of footage to capture. It is a true gem of public lands, and I hope my film will showcase that.”

Community Extension: Beau is sharing his video footage in outdoor and wilderness-themed film festivals, with accompanying talks about his experience in the Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area.

Artist Donation:  Beau created a short film to inspire and educate the public about Nellie Juan-College Fiord WSA. The piece will be used for publicity and promotional purposes.

View this film here.

Stewardship Projects:

  • O/G site inspections with Forest Service permits administrator
  • Recreation site naturalization and clean-up efforts
  • Collected/euthanized invasive European black slugs
  • Recreation site and wilderness character monitoring
  • Participated in outdoor education program “Teach the Teachers”, credited by the University of Alaska & led by USFS and AK Geographic
  • Participated in O/G meeting with NOLS
  • Accompanied USFS rangers aboard two day tour boats

Artist website:  www.workofbeau.com

Videographer Captures Essence Of Chugach National Forest Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area/Prince William Sound (Chugach News Release)

Exploring Prince William Sound (Chugach National Forest Website)

Nellie Juan–College Fiord Wilderness Study Area (PDF)


Noatak Wilderness
Western Arctic National Parklands

Jessica Bryant | Painter from Coure d’lane, ID


Tebenkof Bay Wilderness
Tongass National Forest

Leslie Hendrickson | Puppet Maker from New York, NY

 

Leslie kayaking in Tebenkof Bay Wilderness. Leslie's artwork."Leaving New York City, I had no real image of Petersburg, the destination printed on my plane ticket, or the Tebenkof Bay Wilderness, where I was about to spend a week camping and kayaking. Those eight days—one extra because we were “weathered in”—were free from almost all signs of humanity. We watched tides change, scanned the horizon for whales and listened to sea otters chomping on clams. I was, at times, elated, exhausted, confused, confident, afraid and adventurous. I loved being out in the kayak, taking in views of the distant mountains, the water, the sky. By the end of the journey, I was full to the brim with all I’d seen and heard, ready to return home and translate that into my artwork."

Click for artist details

To try to answer these questions in the form of a hand-drawn map, I’ve been reviewing my notes, sketches, photos, and audio recordings (mostly of silence, waiting for loons to resurface) and ruminating on memories from the journey—memories of the place and memories of thought-provoking conversations with the knowledgeable, dedicated backcountry rangers who are committed to protecting and celebrating it.  The opportunity to travel with and learn from the rangers, plus the magic and mystery of the mist-draped fiords themselves, made for a rich, enlightening experience.

After spending almost two weeks in the Nellie Juan, I can say without a doubt that it is by far one of the most beautiful places in Alaska. More tidewater glaciers than anywhere else, the farthest North temperate rainforest, thousands of miles of coastline. When the sun was shining, there was no lack of footage to capture. It is a true gem of public lands, and I hope my film will showcase that.”

Community Extension: Leslie organized a community puppet making workshop utilizing recycled material:

What do New York, puppet making and the Alaskan wilderness have in common?

Artist Donation:  Leslie wrote "A Puppet Odyssey," a puppet tour through the Tebenkof Bay Wilderness addressing the need for solitude and the effect of plastic trash in the oceans. Puppets and script were donated to the Forest Service for future conservation education activities.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Campsite monitoring
  • Invasive species monitoring and hand pulling
  • Encounter monitoring
  • Wildlife monitoring

Artist website:  thegreatleslie.com


Tracy Arm-Ford’s Terror Wilderness
Tongass National Forest

Klara Maisch | Printmaker/Painter/Bookmaker from Fairbanks, AK


Tracy Arm-Ford’s Terror Wilderness
Tongass National Forest

Jill Hubley | Data Artist from Brooklyn, NY


Togiak Wilderness
Togiak National Wildlife Refuge

Jeff Parker | Photographer from Smithville, TX

 

Jeff Parker in the woods holding his camera. Togiak Lake, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge"My time in Togiak National Wildlife Refuge went all too quickly.  However, the memories of the journey will always be with me. I have a moment as I’m leaving Togiak Lake, a strange blip in time when I look around and realize that I will never see this lake or these mountains or that glacier again.  Most times I don’t think that way, I usually figure I’ll be back someday.  But in that moment I knew how unlikely it was that I’d ever return to Togiak Lake.  Without the Voices of the Wilderness AIR program I wouldn’t have been here in the first place.

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Global warming’s effects are tangible here.  Last winter, the snow didn’t stick. A couple of days after each snow it would rain and melt it all.  The permafrost is melting.  Trees are invading the tundra.  The walrus are summering somewhere else.  The pack ice no longer comes in here.  I wonder what the future holds for us all."

Community Extension: Jeff gave a variety of presentations at various speaking engagements, including camera clubs and Audubon groups.

http://exploreinfocus.com/artist-in-residence-togiak-nwr/ 

Artist Donation: 20"x 30" metal print, Togiak Lake, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge

Stewardship Projects:

  • Law enforcement float on Goodnews river.
  • Accompanied a biologist taking water samples from backcountry lakes.
  • Patrol up Togiak River to Togiak Lake.

Artist website:  www.ExploreinFocus.com


West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness
Tongass National Forest

Christin Minnotte | Performance artist from Miami, FL

 

Christin with camera in hand on a boat, photography the area. Christin donated a photograph on oval mirror entitled “Barnacles + Rock, Alaska”.“I had never been to Alaska before this artist residency. Six months later what continues to resonate in my consciousness is embedded in the Alaskan state motto: The Last Frontier. There echoes unawares in the Alaskan wilderness a timelessness so contrary to everything humanity has created since the industrial revolution - our modern world - one feels as if in another world. The laws of harmonious union which govern the Alaskan wilderness stand in stark contrast to the ethically barren cacophony of self-interest and self-assertiveness which governs the human world. Toward the end of our trip I realized that in the Tongass, little of my life the week before mattered. To exist here was simply to survive, to be governed by a different set of rules that had nothing to do with my modern wants or needs. Thereby I understood a sadness in realizing this place was indeed one of the last 'frontiers' of its kind. I had heard the 'voices of the wilderness'. It sounded of peaceable union and humble reverence for one's place. Nothing in the Alaskan wilderness can exist without everything else. The Alaskan wilderness should be an example to us all.

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I will remain grateful to the Forest Rangers' life work in reverence for the magnificent unity of the Alaskan wilderness' steely blue skies, delicate and fierce bears, majestic eagles and tireless salmon. To know a little of the language of the wilderness was an incredible privilege; one which will resonate in the vocabulary of my consciousness all my life.""

Community Extension: Christin developed an entire body of work based on her residency displayed at ‘Superfine’, an international art fair during Art Basel in Wynwood, Miami, FL in December 2016. She also created a group exhibition in March 2017 with this body of work.

Artist Donation: Christin collaborated on a performance piece entitled “Nature’s Refection”, involving video, sculptural garment and choreography/dance: https://vimeo.com/219566354.
She donated a photograph on oval mirror entitled “Barnacles + Rock, Alaska”, 15” x 19”

Stewardship Projects:

  • Recreation site inventorying and clean-ups.
  • Encounters monitoring.
  • Outfitter/guide monitoring.
  • Visitor use contacts.
  • Invasive species survey and treatment.

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