Moving to Fairbanks in 2007 caused Kathryn, a printmaker and dancer in her previous “east-coaster” life, to turn to painting as a way translate her impressions of her new surroundings: “the uniqueness of sun setting on my side of the continent … expanse of untouched land from atop a hill or butte or mountain.” She feels at home in the woods, where “the sounds of living things (are) traveling, calling, working, and the breeze in the trees shoosh-shooshing.”
Entering the woods with scientists was an entirely new experience, Kathryn said. Her emotional response to the surroundings was still there, but she noted the addition of the intellectual response: “I had the knowledge of ‘what’ and ‘why’ and ‘how’ at my disposal.” The experience, while at first overwhelming her artist’s desire to tell a true story in her work about the forest, inspired a new perspective about the transformative powers of fire.
“I realized that what was really at the heart of the conversation was the concept of absence or transformation of an area,” she stated in contributed information for this project. “A piece of the forest being gone, and then changing, in the area of a wildfire. First there is a hole. Then, in that space, whole new worlds begin in miniature, until eventually the area matures, is filled in again.”