MELT is a project that deals with themes of my obsession, that of ephemerality and dynamic states. When I was an undergraduate student studying environmental science, one of the required readings was Aldo Leopold’s 1949 A Sand County Almanac. In “Prairie Birthday”, Leopold recounts the story of a patch of cup-plant, a plant remnant of the prairies once covering the midwest. Leopold observes this remnant patch of Silphium located in a graveyard that he would watch sprout up every July and he wrote,
“The erasure of a human subspecies is largely painless – to us – if we know little enough about it. …We grieve only for what we know. The erasure of Silphium from western Dane County is no cause for grief if one knows it only as a name in a botany book.”
Many studies project that within a decade snow will not exist in many of the historic snowiest places because they will be too warm. These places will cease to exist as we have known them. As an artist and explorer, I have travelled the earth via the internet to visit the world’s historic snowiest peaks. Utilizing satellite imagery from these travels, I have created photographs printed in the 19th century photographic salted paper process, one of the earliest methods of photographic printing. A selected number of the exhibition images are created to be ephemeral, unfixed, fading over the course of the exhibition, invoking this sense of change. These photographs on paper will fade when exposed to sunlight, like the snow of these mountainous regions, and we are left with our memories of the place and a feeling.
Support for MELT is provided by SPACE Gallery through The Kindling Fund (www.kindlingfund.org) and The John Anson Kittredge Fund. A very special thank you to Dr. Daniel Scott, University Research Chair in Global Change and Tourism & Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change, University of Waterloo whose research inspired this project. And a special thank you to Maine Media Workshops + College.
A public participation component of the project occurred in Fall 2015. It involved the printing and mailing of a quantity of several hundred small postcard-size unfixed salt prints to residents of Maine. The images were sent in a light-tight black poly envelope with a description of the project and choice of whether or not to open the envelope. (Like selected prints in the exhibition, these small prints are intended to last as long as kept in the dark, completely ephemeral.) Recipients make a conscious decision as to if and how often to open the envelope which will contribute to the image disappearance. This decision parallels our decisions made daily which contribute to climate change.