Artist in Residence Highlights 2017

 

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

Andrea Nelson | Assemblage artist from Haines, AK

 

Andrea Nelson with a foxhole in the background. Andrea Nelson with a foxhole in the background.“After weather and volcanic ash cancellations, I arrived by small plane on Attu, the westernmost island of the Aleutian Chain. For 10 inspiring days I explored a remote, war-torn landscape amongst a vast spectacle of birds, weather, and plants emerging from their winter slumber. Layers of history were reflected on a land impacted by Unangax (Aleut), Russian, Japanese and American military personnel. In 1942 the Japanese invaded the island, sent the native Unangax villagers to Japan as prisoners of war, and settled in. Occupation of the island culminated in the only ground battle of World War 2 fought on American soil. Aside of military bunkers, fox holes, and hundreds of post-war structural remains, was evidence of Unangax occupation spanning thousands of years, including prehistoric middens and village sites. There will be a traveling exhibit about Attu commemorating the 75th anniversary of the WW2 battle, which will include several of my assemblages. These artistic compositions aim to explore Attu’s tragic human history in stark contrast to its overwhelming natural beauty – one of the most unique bird habitats in the world, and now occupied by none.”

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Community Extension: Community Extension: Andrea created ten works of art related to the landscape and history of Attu to be exhibited in a 2018 exhibit commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Attu in World War 2.

Artist Donation:  Salvaging Coastline 15” (w) x 13” (h) x 2.5”. Assemblage; US Navy WW2 bandages and bandage boxes (from artist’s personal collection), sand from Massacre Beach, membrandimorphalg (Marine Algae of the Aleutian Islands) sample from Massacre Bay, aluminum containers, burlap, raw cut fabric, thread, wood base.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Andrea worked alongside professionals, studying the landscape and history of Attu to generate meaningful pieces with an artistic viewpoint of an important historical event.

Artist website:  antelopearts.com


Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

Nancy Lord | Writer from Homer, AK

 

Nancy Lord in Adak. Heading Up Engineer Hill in Attu. Masacre Bay Pier in Attu.“What an amazing opportunity!—to travel on the USFW ship Tiglax to two uninhabited islands at the end of the Aleutian chain, sites of World War II Japanese occupation and the battle of Attu in 1943. The F&W staff did an outstanding job to get us ashore and around the islands and in sharing a wealth of information about war activities as well as the natural history and values as public lands. The earliest inhabitation by Unangan people, the Russian and early American periods, WWII with the capture of Attuans and the Japanese occupation, the retaking by Allied troops, the post-war period as American military bases, today’s public ownership and the resilience of the land—these are all fascinating stories we’ll be sharing through our art.”

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Community Extension: Nancy collaborated with photographer Irene Owsley to contribute five large photographs and accompanying "mini-essay" text panels for a traveling exhibit commemorating the Battle of Attu. They also gave a slideshow presentation at the exhibit as well as at the Islands and Ocean Visitors Center in Homer. Further essays with photographs have followed.

Artist Donation:  Nancy wrote short essays to accompany Irene Owsley’s panorama photograph donations.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Engaged in discussions of WWII ‘artifacts’, including how to culturally interpret.
  • Accompanied USF&W staff and provided support at two uninhabited islands, sites of WWII Japanese occupation and the battle of Attu in 1943.

Artist website:  writernancylord.com

Highlights:


Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge

Irene Owsley | Photographer from Santa Fe, NM

 

Irene Owsley photographing on a beach in Adak. Heading Up Engineer Hill in Attu. Masacre Bay Pier in Attu.“Writer Nancy Lord and I collaborated on a project with images and words to interpret what we experienced of WWII battle sites and Japanese occupation still visible on the Aleutian islands of Attu and Kiska. Travel on the R/V Tiglax was truly an adventure, and we experienced all kinds of weather and seas….bird and aquatic life….wild headlands, the last of wildflowers….and of course the otherworldly remnants of WWII. We disembarked at various locations by zodiac to explore and learn both the natural and human history of these remote islands. The goal of our contribution to the refuge is to offer an insightful, artistic response to the importance of these islands in WWII history and how the refuge might share this with the general public given the difficulty of access.”

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Community Extension: Irene and collaborative artist writer Nancy Lord presented a slide show with an emphasis on history, natural history and photography from their residency.

Artist Donation:  Irene collaborated with Nancy Lord to develop two 60” panoramic photographs and three slightly smaller accompanying photographs, paired with Nancy’s short essays for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the battle of Attu.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Engaged in discussions of WWII ‘artifacts’, including how to culturally interpret.
  • Accompanied USF&W staff and provided support at two uninhabited islands, sites of WWII Japanese occupation and the battle of Attu in 1943.

Artist website:  ireneowsley.com


Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

Robin Peterson | Multi-media artist from Vaughn, WA

 

Robin Peterson's shadow on the beach. Mixed media painting, 24x36 inches. “Lake Clark National Park is all it’s cracked up to be…and more. Via light aircraft, park staff exposed me to a variety of spectacular wilderness landscapes; glacier clad mountains, alpine tundra, lakes, riparian wetlands, coastal tide flats and salt marshes. Yes, it’s about brown bears and their relationship with humans made possible by this unique habitat. Yes, Dick Proennecke’s cabin is a monument to craftsmanship and self-sufficiency. It’s also about native Dena’ina land use ethic and the science of salmon monitoring. It is a living laboratory for successful cohabitation within wilderness. As an illustrator, this experience continues to inspire. As a human deeply committed to keeping the promise of wilderness protection it provides an opportunity for engagement and sharing. What could be better than that?”

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Artist Donation:  Mixed media painting, 24x36 inches. "Twin Lakes / Nilqidlen Vena, Dena'ina and English place names".

Stewardship Projects:

  • Visitor and subsistence use monitoring.
  • Wildlife observation and monitoring.
  • Encounters/solitude monitoring.

Artist website:  www.fernwoodstudio.com


Misty Fiords National Monument
Tongass National Forest

Robert Isenberg | Audio/podcast work from Boston, MA

 

Robert Isenberg in Misty Fjords.“In August, I spent nine days in Ketchikan, Alaska, working closely with forest ranger Aubrey Saunders. Our plan was to spend four days in the Misty Fjords wilderness area, including an overnight on a special barge and kayaking in the region’s many inlets. The weather did not cooperate, and the combined threat of rough seas and tempestuous winds prevented us from even entering Misty Fjords. In the meantime, we toured Ketchikan and its environs. We hiked to the Silvis Lakes, visited Ward Lake, and walked along the Rainbird Trail. On our penultimate day, Aubrey arranged a flight to Big Goat, enabling us to survey the wreckage of a floatplane and also to view Misty Fjords from the air. On my morning of my departure, we motored out to a bear observatory and retrieved two volunteers. I encountered a number of animals I had never seen in the wild, such as seals, bald eagles, and numerous black bears.

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Artist Donation:  Isenberg will submit an abridged version of the podcast series, a 45-minute-to-hour-long documentary, which focuses entirely on Misty Fjords and the Forest Service.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Monitored sites by floatplane.
  • Prepared for a five day solitude monitoring kayak trip; cancelled due to foul weather.
  • Assisted in local district work, allowing Robert to interview and obtain sound bits for his podcast.

Artist website:  robertisenberg.net

Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness (PDF)

Tongass National Forest website


Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area
Chugach National Forest

Kristin Link | Scientific Illustrator from Glenallen, AK

 

Kristin Link on the beach in Nellie-Juan College Fiord Wilderness Study Area. Watercolor of a Chugach cabin with fireweed blooming.“As an artist who lives on a river that flows into Prince William Sound I’ve always been fascinated by the lush coastal landscape a hundred miles away. I got a good overview of the Nellie-Juan College Fiord Wilderness Study Area as I travelled by glacier cruise boats, kayak, and foot as artist in residence. I was able to document my experiences hiking through the forest to hidden lakes, kayaking past icebergs, and walking by bogs and quiet beaches with my camera and sketchbook. In addition I participated in the week-long teacher training workshop where we base camped at Derickson Spit and a trail crew survey where we travelled all over the WSA from Esther Island to Deep Water Bay. One of my favorite memories is when we had boat troubles and spent a couple of hours in the middle of the Sound on a sunny calm day watching Humpback whales and puffins pass by.”

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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.

Artist Donation:  Kristin developed illustrations for kiosk signs about the Wilderness Study Area for the ports of Whittier and Valdez.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Participated in outdoor education program “Teach the Teachers”, credited by the University of Alaska & led by USFS and AK Geographic.
  • Participated in trails survey in Wilderness Study Area and did trail maintenance and brushing with USFS trail crew.
  • Recreation site naturalization and clean-up efforts.
  • Picked up garbage.
  • Monitored camp site impacts.

Artist website:  www.kristinillustration.com

Nellie Juan–College Fiord Wilderness Study Area (PDF)

Exploring Prince William Sound (Chugach National Forest Website)


Kootznoowoo Wilderness

Tony Piedra | Children’s Book Author/Illustrator from Burbank, CA

 

Tony Piedra working a handsaw in the wilderness. Tony donated a 30“ x 24’ framed archival digital print entitled “Patches”.“During my stay at Pack Creek in July 2017, I came to know of an old female bear named Patches. Amongst the rangers I stayed with there was some debate as to whether she had passed away or not because she had not been seen for several days. You see Patches was the oldest known female to frequent the fishing grounds of Pack Creek. She was estimated to be around 30 years old, which is in the upper end of life expectancy for coastal brown bears. She also suffered from a twisted, broken back leg, which limited her mobility and a split nose the result of some past altercation.

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Two days after my arrival I saw Patches. She was still alive. I watched her approach from a distance like a giant hyena. Her shoulders sloping downwards to her hindquarters due to her broken leg, creating the distinctive silhouette. She moved with some difficulty, her age and physical condition showing, yet as I observed her interact with the other bears it became apparent she was the boss. For the rest of that afternoon I watched Patches cause chaos in the tidal flats, intimidating young mothers into dropping their fish with her Terminator-like gait, slow and deliberate. I thought to myself, there is a story to be told here. She was not always like this. Patches was once a cub fresh as the first spring rain. This painting is dedicated to Patches and the rangers I met during my stay at Pack Creek, Admiralty Island in July 2017.”

Community Extension:

Tony presented at Taylor Ray Elementary School in Rosenburg, Texas, sharing his VOTW experience to several classes of 5th grade students. He focused on communicating the beauty of Kootznoowoo and the importance of protecting our last wild places.

Artist Donation:  Tony donated a 30“ x 24’ framed archival digital print entitled “Patches”.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Assisted in setting up new bear cameras at Middle Creek.
  • Assisted in taking molds of bear paw prints on the viewing spit at Pack Creek.
  • Bear observations.
  • Assisted the trail crew with clearing fallen trees in Mitchell Bay using crosscut saws and axes.

Artist website:  www.tonypiedrastudio.com


Innoko National Wildlife Refuge

Christina Chan | Illustrator from Arcadia, CA

 

Christina Chan and Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge employees enjoying the beauty of the area. Christina created a ten page comic book showcasing the flora and fauna of the Innoko Wilderness.“I spent twelve days in the Innoko Wildlife Refuge, exploring just a small portion of its 3.85 million acres, with the amazing Galena Fish and Wildlife Service men and women. It was my first time in such a vast wilderness and with roughly 6 hours of boating per day, we did a total of 600 miles on the Yukon and Innoko River. Along the Yukon River, we stopped at the villages of Grayling, Holy Cross, Shagluk, Anvik, and explored abandoned Halikacuk. We woke up to the sounds of trumpeter swans, raven fledging crying for food, and the beat of the grouse. I listened to the songs of the elders and the dance of the youths at Denakkanaga, a conference of Native Elders. I followed the prints of wolves, foxes, bears, weasels, ducks, geese, and moose along the bank of the Innoko. I tasted wild Alaskan roses, fireweed, nettles, blue bells, and fresh caught Pike. For a city girl living in Los Angeles, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and experience!

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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:

Christina hosted a podcast interview with The Urban Homestead, a city farm in Pasadena, CA, urbandhomestead.org . She discussed the medicinal native healing she learned and used while in Innoko NWR, and discussed the process of creating the art.

Artist Donation:  Christina created a ten page comic book showcasing the flora and fauna of the Innoko Wilderness (Medium: Pencil and ink, 8.75” X 12”/page). Donated pieces included the original black and white inked pages on Bristol board paper and the finished comic which was digitally colored.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Assisted Karin Bodony for preparations on wild healing herbs at the Denakkanaga Conference in Holy Cross; collected willows and spruce buds.
  • Assessed the different flora with Karin at a fishing camp on an island on the Yukon.
  • Observed wood bison in Innoko and collected wood bison fur.
  • Noted animal tracks in Innoko and observed a raven’s nest.
  • Explored the abandoned village, Holikachuk, with Ranger.
  • Conducted an herbal workshop and comic book workshop in Galena with Ranger Karin.

Artist website: www.christinachanart.com


Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge

Erin Robertson | Writer from Louisville, CO

 

Erin Robertson smiling as she sits on the ground writing. Andrea Nelson with a foxhole in the background.“I spent 12 extraordinary days in interior Alaska with amazing biologist/educator/kindred spirit Karin Bodony, and wrote over 100 poems. We surveyed the Yukon for peregrine falcons, and canoed and swam in the slough.  We flew over meandering rivers to the sprawling Nogahabara Dunes where we found caribou antlers, prehistoric artifacts, and otherworldly textural beauty.  We woke to the sounds of loons, cranes, and swans.  We examined soil core stories and bubblegum-pink fireweed against stark, charred trunks. Karin's family immersed me in community events and gave me an authentic taste of local culture (mmm...moose...).  I went home with new friends, wolf fur, sourdough starter, and the knowledge that I am a Person Who Does This Sort of Thing - someone warmly welcomed to The Last Frontier.”

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Artist Donation:  Erin donated a framed copy of her poem "A Record of Cranes". She also provided a nature writing curriculum for kids.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Peregrine falcon survey on the Yukon River.
  • Ground-truthing of remote-sensing-based wildfire burn severity map.

Artist website:  erinrobertson.org


Tebenkof Bay Wilderness
Tongass National Forest

Eric Esterle | Wildlife and Landscape Photographer from Ellicott City, MD

 

Eric Esterle sea kayaking in Tebenkof Bay of Southeast Alaska. Eric Esterle sea kayaking in Tebenkof Bay of Southeast Alaska.“As a selectee for the 2017 Voices Of The Wilderness Program, in July I spent two weeks off-grid with the U.S. Forest Service in the designated wilderness of Tebenkof Bay and Kuiu areas of Southeast Alaska.  We kayak-camped from island to island monitoring everything from invasive plant species to gathering metrics on any human-caused impacts we came across. The Forest Service provided an historical background on the native Alaskans who first inhabited the area.  As a photographer, the designated wilderness areas of Southeast Alaska provided a serene and magical location to gather beautiful landscape panoramas of the inlets and surrounding forests. The seclusion provided for an intimate experience for photographing protected and endangered species. Imagine listening to the call of humpback whales above water as you kayak! As a wildlife and landscape photographer being able to photograph protected and threatened species in a pristinely managed wilderness area was an experience of a lifetime. Humpback bubblenet feeding, single and double breaches with beautiful forests in the background, bald eagles and eaglets in their nest, other raptors, dolphin, salmon, sea otters and their pups, river otters, and black bear were a few of the species we responsibly encountered.”

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Community Extension: Eric gave numerous presentations focused around the challenges of conservation, highlighting imagery for the protection of wilderness areas and the threatened, protected, and endangered species which inhabit those areas.

Artist Donation: High-resolution landscape and wildlife imagery.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Invasive plant species eradication.
  • Collection of plastics debris from remote Alaskan beaches within the wilderness areas.
  • Observance of native Alaskan cultures within the area.
Artist websites:

Tongass National Forest website


Togiak Wilderness
Togiak
National Wildlife Refuge

Shawna Pickinpaugh | Multi-media artist from Lander, WY

 

Shawna Pickinpaugh standing at Cape Pierce. Shawna Pickinpaugh's donated artwork - “Arch at Cape Pierce”“Art is an integral part of my life; it continually pulls and stretches me in new and exciting directions. No matter what is going on in my life I constantly feel the need to make art, teach art, see art, and learn more about art. It is the way I relate to the world. I have always considered myself a painter, however over the years I have been drawn to ceramics, because I love to produce and see instant results. I have a passion for surface decoration and enjoy painting and carving. I have been experimenting with a new painting medium called Quink. I am painting with it, using watercolor techniques and have been excited about the effects I am getting in my paintings. The work I submitted to the Togiak National Wildlife office was done using Quink.

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Community Extension: Shawna presented to the environmental science and art classes at Lander Valley High School. She also prepared art activities/Ranger for a Day program activities in Sinks Canyone in the Bridger Wilderness.

Artist Donation: "Arch at Cape Pierce". Quink (calligraphers ink), 30” x 13.5” framed. I also completed an onsite drawing, a painting of Tulik Spire and a moose skull study. I left the Moose Skull study in Alaska and the office.

Stewardship Projects:

  • Participated in Ranger for a Day on two different occasions and Lake Aleknagik, including watercolor lesson with elementary students painting the landscape at the lake.
  • Assisted in removing non-native invasive weeds.
  • Participated in the Cape Pierce Camp with middle school students, including watercolor, sketching and field studies.-Participated in all activities designed for the students and did watercolor, sketching and field studies/field sketches with the students.

Artist websites:


Tracy Arm-Ford’s Terror Wilderness
Tongass National Forest

Paul Driscoll | Writer/illustrator from Clancy, MT


Tracy Arm-Ford’s Terror Wilderness
Tongass National Forest

Lisa Grossman | Painter from Lawrence, KS

 

Lisa Grossman shares her work. “Endicott Arm – Four Progressions.  Oil on panel: small panels combined in series, 21” x 33” framed“What a singular experience--to accompany U.S. Forest Service TAFT Wilderness Rangers in Endicott Arm Fjord for a six-day excursion! I’m an avid kayaker—in Kansas—and have never been to Alaska or kayaked on tidewaters, so I especially appreciated the expertise of Ranger Chrissy, who taught me so much about this unspeakably beautiful wilderness and kayak-camping in it. I felt honored to glimpse what is required to manage such a vast, wild land of many uses for its “wilderness character” and the many collaborative partnerships it takes to accomplish their stewardship goals, including artists-in-residence!

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The ice was absolutely enthralling and I could have painted bergs and glaciers endlessly. It was thrilling to witness glaciers calving in person, but also unsettling. The effects of a warming planet finally felt real to me. Never having experienced tides, any effects of sea levels rising also became easy to imagine. Seeing and hearing whales spouting, catching glimpses of harbor seals and porpoises while kayaking, and so many sea birds, was so moving. I tried to always be in the moment and not take any of the experience for granted.“

Community Extension: Lisa created a Google Tour Builder presentation (using Google Earth Pro) for her local Audubon society and the Topeka Public Library. She also created “Color Stories”, a web series for Gamblin Artist’s Materials about painting in TAFT.

Artist Donation:  Oil on panel: small panels combined in series, 18” x 30” (in-progress work).

Stewardship Projects:

  • Assisted in monitoring visual and noise intrusions, including boats and planes.
  • Assisted in removing non-native invasive weeds.
  • Boarded two tour boats with a USFS ranger to provide education and share information about the artist residency.
  • Monitored recreation sites, heritage sites, and trails.

Artist website:  lisagrossmanart.com

The Voices of the Wilderness, An Alaskan Artist-in-Residency on Google Tour Builder

Tongass National Forest website


West Chichagog-Yakobi Wilderness
Tongass National Forest

Megan Perra | Silk screener from Portland, OR

 

Megan Perra sea kayaking near Sitka Alaska.  Megan Perra's donated 8x10 original clayboard etching titled 'Life Between Islands'.“In July, I spent 8 days sea-kayaking with a team of 5 other incredibly capable woman in the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness of the Tongass National Forest. Together, we traversed the coast of West Chichagof, navigating between small clusters of islands and inlets to monitor old camps and archeological sites. The further we were from civilization, the more acutely aware I became of its impact; climate change has left swathes of dead yellow cedars on the hillsides and jellyfish clusters so thick it’s hard to see the sandy bottom. But in spite of this, there’s still a magic to the place, a hypnotism in the waves that’s hard to shake. I will never forget the sound of otters knocking clamshells in the evening or whale spouts fading into mist. This experience has been one of the most definitive adventures of my life, and I can only hope that this program continues to inspire others.”

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The ice was absolutely enthralling and I could have painted bergs and glaciers endlessly. It was thrilling to witness glaciers calving in person, but also unsettling. The effects of a warming planet finally felt real to me. Never having experienced tides, any effects of sea levels rising also became easy to imagine. Seeing and hearing whales spouting, catching glimpses of harbor seals and porpoises while kayaking, and so many sea birds, was so moving. I tried to always be in the moment and not take any of the experience for granted.“

Community Extension:

Artist Donation:  Megan donated an 8x10 original clayboard etching titled 'Life Between Islands'. She also donated six limited edition screen prints.

Stewardship Projects:

  • While on the trip we completed Invasive Plant surveys, Wilderness Campsite condition inventory monitoring and rehabilitation, Encounter Monitoring, Special Uses site inspections, and Heritage Program site monitoring. We also collected some trash.<
  • Wilderness Campsite condition inventory monitoring and rehabilitation.
  • Encounters monitoring.
  • Special Uses site inspections.
  • Heritage Program site monitoring.
  • Collected trash.

Artist website:  Feral5creativeco.com

Tongass National Forest website


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2018 artist residencies are available now
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