earth • science • art
Dear Project Backers,
Our third Artist Update introduces artists Jamie Abbott and Denise Smith. Though neither has a website at this time, you are welcome to contact them if you would like to learn more about their work (JamieAbbott47@yahoo.com / (831) 239-3511 and DeniseSmith2005@comcast.net). Jamie is a sculptor who works in a range of media including wood, stone, and metal. He is an instructor at Cabrillo College and is well-known to many in our local art community. Denise is a printmaker, based in Scotts Valley. She is a UCSC alum and has worked in woodcut and photography for many years. Both artists are doing works for this project that consider the impacts of human activity on communities in specific geographical locations.
Though the Kickstarter project will be ending in just 8 days, I will continue to send out Artist Updates over the next several weeks and encourage you to pass them on to people you think might be interested. Updates are also posted on our project website, www.earthscienceartSC.com.
Thanks again for your interest and support.
At our introductory meeting, I was immediately drawn to Amy Draut's work on the dam removal and river restoration project for the Elwha River in Washington state. (Two dams on the Elwha River—the Elwha Dam and the Glines Canyon Dam—were built almost 100 years ago to provide electrical power to a private timber and paper company. Since their installation, the dams have contributed to steep decline of the region's salmon populations. Undertaking a large-scale watershed restoration project and the largest dam removal in world history, the Department of the Interior began removing both dams in 2011.) After Amy’s presentation I thought I had a fairly clear idea of how I would approach the project. A few rough sketches, some written thoughts, a sit-down meeting with Amy, and, I thought, away we go. Amy and I selected a spot in the gallery, I purchased some wood—and then we completely changed directions. So, more time, more ideas, another meeting in the Gallery and now we are in motion.
I have always been interested in historical lore, and how places and people adapt to change. This project has presented me with a complex interweaving of cultures, use of resources, engineering, and scientific research. Each of these elements has been integral to designing and planning our piece and will be reflected in the finished sculptural installation. In my studio I’m working on a large freestanding structure, as well as a series of wall panels that Amy and I will piece together. The panels incorporate images of the Elwha River and the area’s history from different periods and perspectives. I plan on visiting the area this summer, and look forward to seeing the Elwha River.
I always welcome visitors to drop by my studio and check out the progress.
Li Erikson’s research in environmental and coastal engineering takes her to many locations, including the San Francisco Bay Area and Alaska’s North Slope. I was inspired to concentrate on her work in Alaska after being struck not only by huge changes in climate that are redefining the coastline there, but also by how those changes are impacting native populations. In response to the increasing temperatures, decreasing sea ice extent, and eroding coastline, Iñupiat residents of Arctic Alaska are struggling to maintain their cultural heritage as traditional hunting techniques become less relevant and the possible need to relocate further inland looms.
When I met with Li, she shared photographs of the North Slope, as well as data she has collected in her research. Several different ideas occurred to me centered around before and after representations of this area. In one of the two prints that’s near completion, Li’s data serves as a layer of information, overprinted with a woodcut image that I have created. As I was carving into the wood I was struck by how the process of taking away material was similar to the erosion process depicted in my image.
I start my prints with an idea and then see where it leads me. I often end up in a completely different place from where I started, which can be said of scientific research; that the conclusions don’t always match the hypothesis. This element of surprise is both fun and creatively challenging as the wood grain and ink both direct me towards the final print.
top: Jamie Abbott; bottom: Denise Smith
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