Fine Art Portfolio
98 imagesI live on an island off the coast of Maine, and I mess around on the shore all year round. For 15 years I have explored and studied the shoreline – the intertidal zone - and researched the flora, fauna, ecosystem dynamics and marine debris that I encounter. The Beachcombing series is a set of still life photographs of things I pick up along the shoreline, photographed on an oversized light table in my studio. Each photo in the series documents the things I found on a particular shore on a particular day: the title of each photo is the name of the beach and the date on which I found those objects. These photographs are part of my methodology for studying the things I find and teasing apart the layers of natural history and human occupation on the shoreline. It is important to me to identify them as specifically as possible - not just plants and animals, but rocks and marine debris. Over the years I’ve become more and more concerned with plastic trash and its effect on ocean ecosystems, and I give it the same attention as other occupants of the shore. I've also noticed systemic changes associated with climate change - the warming water of the Gulf of Maine, invasive species on land and sea, unpredictable weather patterns. The still life process is a method of articulating my curiosity about the things I find, making a record of them, and documenting my growing understanding of the intertidal zone. As my familiarity with marine creatures, tides, geology, and wind patterns has grown, I find the compositions breaking out of the simple grids I began with and becoming more elaborate. Some of the recent ones are positively baroque.
22 imagesPart of the series is currently on view at the Hopkins Wharf Gallery Ice House, North Haven, Maine, as part of the Senescence show. The show will be up through Sept 14, 2022. 200 million years ago, in the days of the Pangaean continent, the Panthalassic Ocean covered most of the earth. Plankton living in the ocean drew energy from sunlight, and when they died, trapped that energy in their bodies as they sank to the ocean floor. Sediment buried the layers of plankton. Over the course of the Mesozoic era, the next 100 million years or so, the process continued, and beneath the accumulation of sediment, heat and pressure transformed the dead plankton into oil. Sometime after 1965, in the Anthropocene era, the oil was extracted, heated into a gas, and piped to a fractional distillation tower, where a combination of boiling point and weight separated the various hydrocarbon derivatives like gasoline, kerosene, naptha, and so forth. High heat and pressure cracked the hydrocarbons of naptha and natural gas into ethylene. A catalyst, high heat and pressure created polyethylene powder, which was combined with additives, melted, extruded, cooled, cut, and formed into High Density Polyethylene pellets. The pellets were shipped to a factory, where they were liquified under high heat and pressure. The liquid plastic was inflated with air and blown into a long tube shape. As it cooled, the tube was flattened by rollers, cut to width, and formed into the shape of a bag. The handles were punched out and the sides sealed with heat. The bags were shipped to a store, filled with weekly groceries, and carried home. It doesn’t matter what was done with the bags after that. There is nowhere to put them. High Density Polyethylene does not biodegrade – no known microorganism recognizes it as food. Sunlight makes the polymer brittle, and it cracks into smaller and smaller particles, enters the food chain and is consumed by humans in their food and breathed in from the air. It never truly disappears. There is plastic inside of you. We are haunted by the ghosts of Mesozoic plankton. .
9 images"We Change with Them" explores shifting ecosystem dynamics resulting from climate change in the Gulf of Maine. I began this series as artist-in-residence for the Mount Desert Island Historical Society. It is part of the Landscape of Change project, a joint initiative with Acadia National Park, Schoodic Institute, the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, College of the Atlantic, and A Climate to Thrive, and will be published in Chebacco, the annual journal of the MDI Historical Society, in spring 2022. The images layer cyanotype, drawings, and data to tell the story of climate-related phenomena on Mount Desert Island, Maine. The project title refers to a sixteenth-century English proverb, “Omnia mutantur nos et mutamur in illis” (All things change and we change with them). 2021 was the year that climate change hit home for me. Every month I noticed some local event that could be traced back to a change that had been years in the making. I thought I understood climate change, having heard about it for most of my life, but the complexity of this project was humbling. As I started teasing apart the network of intertwined consequences, I frequently thought I was looking at a single factor but always found layers of related issues and incremental changes that lead to what felt like an abrupt and seismic shift. In each drawing, the horizontal axis represents time. Duration is limited by the data available. The vertical axis represents the rate of change for variables affecting each phenomenon: increasing temperature, decreasing pH, etc. All data in each image covers the same period of time, and all data is from Maine. The drawings show the amount and direction of change that has occurred for each variable during that period. The lack of data for many of these questions was frustrating. We have excellent records of climate and of population for commercially harvested species like clams and shrimp, and very little data for ticks and green crabs, only anecdotal evidence of enormous population increases and a general sense that the damn things are everywhere. Many of these events are connected to seasonal changes - not just the upward trends of precipitation or warmth, but the time of year when they happen and whether they coincide with migrations or breeding seasons. For example, although annual precipitation has increased by 6 inches since 1895, an unusually dry spring in 2021 lowered water levels at a critical time for the alewife migration. Even though enough rain fell later in the year to even out the annual average, it didn’t help the alewives. A full list of resources and data used for this project is included below. A schedule of events and talks centered on the series will be posted on the MDI Historical Society website: http://mdihistory.org/wechangewiththem