Community Art Show

Satellite Burn Scars

Artist: Bob Mikol

Media: Photograph and Ink on Paper

Wildfires change the landscape; and there are few better places to see this phenomena then the high latitudes of the global north. Across Russia, Canada and Alaska are vast tracks of land, uninhabited by human populations. As a result, wildfires are allowed to burn "free" until they bump up against natural boundaries of rock, river, large water bodies and old burns. Each new fire creating a puzzle-piece patchwork of successional ecology.

Some fires are so severe they blacken the land for several years after the burn. If large enough, these "scars," like the one shown in the inset and as the main feature in the larger map, will have an effect similar to an urban heat island, creating its own weather of convective cloud formation, lightning and rain.

Fire perimeters, the colored outlines you see in the main map, are initially drawn by aerial observation at the time of the fire. However, this method, often introduces error as a result of smoke obscuring the perimeter. A recently completed project of remapping old burns from satellite images has given managers and fire ecologists a far more accurate accounting of actual acres burned.

The images you see here, are taken from the Landsat Satellite Constellation System. Though not confirmed, the black and white image (inset) is most likely from the Landsat 4 satellite. The larger, color image appears to be from Landsat 5.


Successional Vegetation Changes in Upland Forests

Artist: Marty Baldridge

Media: Stoneware Pottery and "Raku" Trees

The idea for this series of stoneware bowls came from the book "Alaska's Changing Boreal Forest" by Terry Chapin et al (Oxford University Press, 2006.) In permafrost-free upland forests, there is a pattern of vegetation changes after a fire:

  1. herb-resprout stage
  2. shrub-sapling stage
  3. deciduous-forest stage and
  4. spruce stage

The fireweed and blueberry bowls represent the first stage, the willow bowl the second, the birch forest with developing spruce understory the third stage, and the spruce bowls the last stage. The black bowl and "trees" have been fired with Raku technique which is directly fire-related.

First There Was Smoke and Flame, Smolder and Smoke

Artist: Glenna Gannon

Media:  Reduction Wood Cuts

As a life-long resident of interior Alaska, I have witnessed first-hand the increased frequency and intensity of wild land fires. My personal observations have lead me to agree with the projection that the recurrence of these fires will only increase as a consequence of climate change. 

As an artist, I have been intrigued by the dynamic flames of wildfires, however, in more recent years, it has been the air, the light, and the smoke that has captured my attention, and inspired my imagination. Fine particulates from wildfires can remain suspended in the air for days, even weeks, greatly affecting light, and visibility.

In recent backcountry trips, I have observed the capacity in which smoke absorbs light- its impact on visibility across large expanses of space, its ability to obscure the color, detail, and form of the landscape.  These nuances have captivated my attention during my travels in Alaska, I strive to depict them in my artistic representation of the ever-changing environment.



Artist: Collins Bonds

Media: Acrylic on Glass


Studium Ingis and After the Burn

Artist: Claire Emery

Media: Hand-painted Woodblock Print

Much like sketching outdoors, cutting woodblock prints slows me down and awakens me to the genius of nature.  Both practices cultivate patience and presence, and reward me with discoveries that help me know myself and the living land better.  

Field sketches often emerge out of my hand spontaneously, and reflect what I long to know, understand, or befriend in a given place.  Making woodcuts and their prints is vigorous work: tedious, deliberate, yet very surprising.  With every cut, I focus on drawing the image out of the darkness and into the light.  With minute tools, I convey the exquisite details of nature. With my paintbrush, I add vibrant colors to the bold, dynamic line of the print from the woodblock.

As a naturalist and an artist, I seek to create images in my journals and woodblock prints which illuminate the multi-faceted stories of working landscapes and wild communities. I enjoy creating original woodblock prints for agencies and groups whose values I share and underscore with art. 

As a visual storyteller, I seek to create images that that contain both fact and mystery, reality and metaphor. Each image contains recognizable characters- an owl, a burned landscape, a fireweed- but look a bit longer,.  What stories in your life are played out in this image-  what parts of your life have burned away, and what has risen in its place?

As an artist, I am in service to the Mother Nature, to the Muse, to the Land, to the Mysterium Tremendum behind and within all of life.  I find that art can provide a mirror for my own steps in the spiritual journey of life, as well as a compass through which we may all find out where we are in both the exterior and the interior landscapes of our lives.

More about Claire Emery's artwork »