We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
We turn clay to make a vessel;
But it is on that space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.
Dao de jing
The science and art
The first time I went to the Arctic, I rode to the island that would be my summer home on the back of a cargo sled pulled by a snowmobile. It was the last weekend in May 2000.
Two snowmobiles, two cargo sleds, four people moved across the open ice of the Arctic Ocean, flat, cold, and boundless. Flocks of eiders and long-tailed ducks hung low along the horizon following their ancient rhythms to nesting grounds still frozen into the tundra.
The majority of that summer I lived on the island alone. It snowed, it rained, there was fog, there was a hurricane, the wind rarely ceased. And I was in frozen heaven.
In our over-caffeinated, over-extended, over-scheduled lives, the Arctic is the space upon which the usefulness of the world relies.
Out of sight to most, it is one of the great regulating factors of the Earth. Now more than ever its vast emptiness is useful to us all.
Formally trained as a biologist, I recently expanded my focus to include writing and photography as a means of connecting more people with the wild world. Combining these skills is a way of fostering innovative thinking and dialogue between people and disciplines with the intent of bringing positive change to the environment. To that end, I applied for and was accepted to an art and science residency titledThe Arctic Circlein Svalbard, Norway, in fall 2018.
I intend to create a written and photographic weaving of my journals from my earlier time spent in the Arctic, with climate change science, and the experience of returning to the Arctic as a writer and photographer 18 years after my first visit as a biologist.
I have started a GoFundMe campaign, Artistry in the Arctic, to help fund this expedition. I am requesting funding to cover the residency fee, airfare, and a few necessary expenses of autumn in the Arctic. Generous friends and family, some of them brand new friends and family, have already donated almost enough to cover the deposit due in March. Please consider contributing any amount you are able. Small donations add up, and with your help, we will all go to the Arctic for a new adventure as – internet access dependent – I will post as much as I can along the way.
I set rewards for different donation levels – your choice of any photo that I post during the trip, signed and delivered to you.