As an artist in residence, (upon invitation from Jennifer Miksis-Olds, and Kristina Durocher, the curator at the Art Museum at UNH, where I have several large sculptures on exhibit) my role is somewhat unusual, to say the least. I’ve been incorporated into the scientific process on the ship, rather than being left to my own devices, which is what happens at most artist residencies. At first, the learning curve was very steep; with so much information coming at me in all directions, including getting my bearings on the ship, the first day felt a bit like one of those disturbing dreams of forgetting I enrolled in university, and not having attended classes all semester, I’m called upon to actually know something. So much to take in: Landers, Bongo and IKMT nets, CTD, analyzing data on the computer screens … my brain started to freeze up!
After a few days, however, I got my science legs, so to speak. I feel more adept and eager to learn what I can in this time, and am grateful to be part of the team, rather than simply an observer. The most exciting aspect, along with simply cruising down the coast on the beautiful open sea, has been seeing the night’s haul from the nets: zooplankton and tiny fish wriggling in the collection jars, and then under the microscope. I’m making watercolors and sketches of anything and everything that catches my interest: waves, landers, equipment on the boat, zooplankton from photos under microscope, portraits of crew and scientists. I’m excited to see how this experience emerges my artwork in the months and years to come.
By Wendy Klemperer