As I started writing this post, the sun had just peaked over the mountains spreading a lovely pinky-orange light through the trees. Frost coats the grasses in the lower field. Ice lays thick over the surface of the iris leaf washing station. A chilly 23 F. Snow on Sunday? I’m not counting on it since this is the valley. We typically only receive a dusting once or twice a year.
Yesterday an invitation came via email for a show in July. Wow, somebody thought enough of my work to invite me! No jury process! I promptly responded with a huge “YES!” The show will be up during the amazing daVinci Days extravaganza. Not heard of daVinci Days? Well, it’s an Oregon festival blending science, art & music held on OSU’s lower campus for 3 days. Absolutely fun for everyone. Like kinetic sculptures? Science? Live music? Film Festival? They have all that and much more. This year’s theme has not shown up on their website… I’m guessing it has to to with the oceans. The show I was invited to participate in is titled “The Art of Plankton”.
You might think “Plankton? What the heck?” Well, many years back I wanted to be a marine biologist. During high school, I assisted a friend with teaching marine biology & ornithology to talented & gifted kiddos on U of O’s campus. I soaked up all related courses at the local college. My amazing friend Terri Herbert went on to receive a masters in marine education through OSU. She had two kids that needed a big sister to watch over them. That’s where I stepped in and spent two summers living with them on campus in Newport. What an amazing experience! The kids and I rambled the halls, checking freezers for the newest dead critters (frozen carcases of seals & small cetaceans were always present) and even playing with the octopus after closing hours (under supervision). We participated in the necropsy of multiple porpoises, a grey whale & sea lions. The smell still lingers in my brain. We were able to attend field trips with amazing researchers. Oh, and I met my husband who happened to be working with whale guru Bruce Mate at the time. It’s really not a wonder why I chose to attend OSU and it certainly led to many adventures, failures & no science degree. If I had not taken that path I might not have been brought back into the world of art.
Our household is still involved in oceanography thanks to my husband. He works for WET Labs, a small business that creates oceanographic instruments for all sorts of water studies. When I mentioned the name of the researcher (Angelique White) providing images for artist’s to work from, he knew exactly who I was talking about. Makes sense but I forget how small the oceanographic community is in Corvallis.
So the little sea squirts I’ve been making stem from a deeper history. They are now sporting tentacles reminiscent of an octopus or basketstar (in the echinoderm family). As I work on these little guys my brain is wandering into the plankton world. I’m wondering if a nori tea would dye paper to an interesting color, because I’m certainly not going to boil fresh seaweed for coloring paper! Well, maybe I could experiment as long as it doesn’t leave a bad smell. Do I want to incorporate light? I already have a feeling it will be another wire structure covered with paper. Do I want to just focus on diatoms or venture into larger plankton or examples of all levels? Ah, the joy of new things to ponder!