This month it was my pleasure to hand deliver a piece titled "Caribou Abundance Blanket" to the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve visitor's center in Bettles. The piece (see image below) was conceived during a 2014 National Park Service Artist Residency spent hiking & camping in the Oolah Valley on the north side of the Alaska Brooks Range.
The valley is stark in July - the river of caribou had already passed through on its migration to the arctic coastal plane - sweeping wolf, fox, bear and moose in its wake like the Pied Piper of the North. The only evidence of passage a delicate lace network of trails across the soft tundra bed. Here and there antlers, old kills, and scat. Only berries and lichen to bear witness.
Like the caribou I passed through Bettles exiting a 2015 Artist's Residency with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge.
The Athabascan name for Kanuti is Kk'toonootne and translates to "well traveled river by both man and animals."
The Mantle series which I am currently working on examines the protective layer of vegetation in the arctic and its role providing sustenance and as a climate control point. This new body of work has been inspired by time spent living in the arctic boreal forest of Alaska. My home. The work is scheduled to be shown in 2016.
Caribou Abundance Blanket - (39" x 31 3/4")
Media: silk, metal & cotton embroidery floss, tarpaulin, Starbucks (TM) wrappers, glass beads, metal grommets.
The plastic tarpaulin substrate is a reference to another abundant arctic resource - petroleum, and the delicate balance that must be maintained when harvesting fragile ecosystems essential to our global survival. The beadwork is a decorative representation of willow and berries. The plastic Starbucks instant coffee wrappers, also harvested from the trip, add an ironic twist to our present day values and what we view as essential to survival.