CAMPANILE CENTER FOR THE ARTS TO HOST “DRAWING WATER” EXHIBITION
In the popular imagination, the thought processes of artists and scientists could hardly be more distinct. And yet a year-long collaboration of lake scientists and artists from Northern Wisconsin has engaged both sides of the “divide” in understanding and communicating the changing ecology in one of the world’s densest groups of lake -- in the northern highlands of Wisconsin.
On July 14-17, the Campanile Center will host its first fine art exhibition. The show, titled “Drawing Water: Artists and Scientists Explore Northern Lakes”, is a project of the University of Wisconsin – Trout Lake Research Station. The exhibit contains works by five visual artists and one poet, each accompanied by a concise explanation of the science behind the art. An opening reception is planned for 4 pm on the 14th with artists and scientists from the project in attendance. Tim Kratz, director of the Trout Lake Station, is a lake and wetland specialist and will give comments and field lake ecology questions. Watercolor artist and botanist, Ann Singsaas, will talk about the inspiration and methods for her paintings. John Bates, noted writer and poet, will read from his collection of lake poems that are part of the exhibit.
The exhibit will be open on July 14 from 1 pm until the end of the reception. On July 15, 16 it will be open from 11 am to 4 pm, and on July 17th from noon until 3 pm.
Why art and science? Art is a method of communication that scientists seldom use, said Emily Stanley, a professor of zoology at University of Wisconsin-Madison and principal investigator of the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research program, funded by the National Science Foundation. The program is housed at the Trout Lake (Wisconsin) Research Station, near Boulder Junction, Wis. “Some people have a visceral reaction against science, but we’re hoping that art can draw people in to the facts at an emotional level.”
Stanley explained that the project is a natural outgrowth of Trout Lake Station’s historic mission -- to document and understand how the lake country has changed since Trout Lake Research Station was established by two UW-Madison scientists in 1924. At that time, loggers had left a forest of tree stumps, and erosion, tree planting, highways and the first summer cottages were bringing another wave of change to the north woods.
“Art can move people in a way other media, other kinds of information cannot,” says Terry Daulton, a painter from Mercer, who helped organize the June, 2010, meeting of lake researchers and artists that started the collaboration. Discussion at the meeting focused on how development, changes in plants, animals and climate have affected the lakes and the landscape. Through visits to Trout Lake and nearby water bodies, the artists became acquainted with the different ways that vegetation, geology and water can give lakes distinct differences in water quality and biology, despite being located within a few miles of each other.
“From the ancient cave artists to pop culture, artists have been thinking about the natural world and change since the beginning,” says Daulton. “Now we’ve had the chance to talk with all these great scientists, and then respond as poets and visual artists to what we’ve learned. All of us live in the north woods, and all of us love nature, but now we’ve had a chance to see it from a totally different perspective.”
“The best teaching is revelation, an epiphany people come to on their own,” says John Bates, a poet from Manitowish [NOTE: Not Manitowish Waters]. “How do we make it so people can have these Aha! moments?”
The exhibit will include: Of Bogs and Benthos, an embroidery by Bonnie Peterson of Houghton, Mich., which uses the traditional techniques of embroidery and stitching to teach basic concepts of freshwater science by incorporating scientific graphs, maps and historic documents. Vanishing Act, a watercolor by Mindy Schnell of Boulder Junction, Wis., shows the expansion of invasive rainbow smelt at the expense of a school of fading, native walleye.
“Scientists often work in a cocoon, and while we take our work seriously, we are always looking to find new ways to communicate,” says Stanley. Referring to lakes near Boulder Junction, she asks, “When people visit Sparkling Lake, do they understand how it was changed by logging, and then by the introduction of an invasive crayfish? When people camp and swim at Crystal Lake, do they understand why its water is so clear -- and how that clarity can be threatened by ecological decline? These are the kind of issues that we hope these north woods artists can communicate.”
Campanile Center for the Arts is located at 131 W. Milwaukee St. in downtown Minocqua. For more information call 715-356-9700.
Drawing Water will be displayed at several northern locations, including the Lac du Flambeau Woodland Indian Art Center, Presque Isle library, Crystal Lake Visitor Center, North Lakeland Discovery Center, Nicolet Community College, and Trees for Tomorrow. More information is available at http://lter.limnology.wisc.edu/ltearts or on Face book at under Drawing Water.
Attached are the following works included in the exhibit:
#1) A pastel by Mercer, Wis. artist Terry Daulton, entitled “A Sunday Afternoon on the Shore,” is part of “Drawing Water: Artists and Scientists Explore Northern Lakes,” an artist-scientist collaboration sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The painting shows the many generations of visitors to Crystal Lake, in Wisconsin’s Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. Although these visitors may see little change in the lake, hard-to-see threats like invasive species and climate change can dramatically affect the lake’s health. 2011 photo courtesy of the artist.
#2) Chase Scene – wood sculpture by Jim Ramsdell
#3) Gimme Shelter – watercolor by BJ artist Mindy Schnell
#4) Little Ripple, a watercolor by Ann Singsaas