Noyes Museum of Art at Stockton University, Oceanville, NJ
Debris found along the shores of Svalbard, October 2013
Participating in The Arctic Circle Residency allowed me to explore the intersections of my interest in sustainability and my art in an environment like no other. Initially, my project was to document my footsteps in this landscape—impermanent artifacts that I thought I could document through photographs. My plan was to show that I could leave my mark only by walking.
Why walking? Walks have marked paradigm shifts in society, such as the military protest and civil rights marches of the 1960s. Walks and hikes for fresh air and exercise are a cost-free pursuit and a way to experience the outdoors. Moreover, walking as an art form is not new. Richard Long’s A Line Made by Walking (1967) introduced Long’s art to the world-- art that is a mélange of performance, sculpture, and photo documentary.
However, on my walks, I discovered an inordinate amount of garbage that had washed up on the Arctic coast. This was not the pristine, snowy landscape that I had imagined. There were other footprints in place - permanent “footprints” that Western industrialism and capitalism have brought to our planet. I started to collect what had washed up on the beach. I am drawn to material that is in a state of transition, which has been exposed to time, weather, and other forces of nature. I brought back the debris, mostly plastics, as a way to explain my first-hand experience and to show that it is our collective responsibility to preserve the beauty and bounties of the natural world.