This is a short video highlighting some of my work as the Artist in Residence for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Reserve.
In the summer of 2018, I searched the web for Artist in Residency and came across one for the “Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve” above the arctic circle in Alaska. The residency was for the following summer. I had a friend that was the entomologist for Denali National Park, Alaska. I contacted her and asked if she would be interested in a joint project for the “Gates.” She had been to the “Gates” several times and was interested in returning to yet another area of interest. Thus, our proposal and collaboration was made and accepted.
As she pointed out, most people who visit the arctic portions of Alaska are interested in the big fauna- the caribou, moose, grizzly bears, and musk oxen. What they are forgetting is that without pollinators there would be no flowers and nectar which these animals need for survival. With climate change a lot of these inter-dependent parts of the ecosystem are starting to frey. Yet not enough is known about pollinators, even now. How many species exist in the arctic; their dispersion areas; their abilities to adapt to change.
For example, with spring coming earlier to the arctic, certain pollinators depend on a specific plant or plants. If these plants bloom earlier than normal, can bees adjust their cycle to fit these earlier blooms, or when they do finally arrive will there be little to no nectar on which to feed. How will these changes affect their procreation rates? If they have adapted to cold climates over generations, will they need to move further north to stay in a suitable climate? What if they can go no further north?
These are just some of the questions she and other scientist are trying to address. My role was to not only document each species through photographs, but to donate my photographs to the park, where they could be used for promotional or educational purposes.
How and Artist in Residency works
For those not familiar with how and artist in residency works, here is a little insight. Perhaps the most important piece of information for some will be whether you will get paid for your work. The answer is No. In fact, you will be asked to donate work within a year of completion of the residency. Some residencies in the Lower 48 will ask that you present several times during your residency. You might present a slide show at the visitors center or be asked to present at a local school. For my residency to the “Gates,” I paid my way to Alaska and to the remote village of Bettles. I brought all my own camping gear and food. They provided the float plane transfer into the bush. I, also, got the decided privilege of being in the remote back country with an experienced ranger, who served as our guide. This was a huge safety feature and gave me great piece of mind.
So, though, it cost me a considerable amount of money for this artist in residency, I got the privilege of being in pristine wilderness. I got the privilege of working with a scientific endeavor, of which, I can only hope, that I made a small contribution to their efforts. It was a fair trade off for me.
Another Video Produced on Our Trip
This is another video that was produced on our trip by SCA intern, Lia Nydes. I think it provides another view of our trip and makes a great compliment to my video.