In a Time of Change
Collaboration has been pivotal in Ree’s work for over a decade. She has taken part in every occurrence of the In a Time of Change (ITOC) program almost since its inception.
Founded in 2008 by the Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) in Fairbanks, Alaska, the In a Time of Change program facilitates and produces transdisciplinary events and exhibits focused on social-ecological themes, including climate change, wildfire, predator control, and the role of microbes in environmental health.
Artists work with scientists in selected fields for one to two years, then contribute work to an art exhibit at the end of the collaboration.
The knowledge and deeper understanding of the natural world Ree gained from working with these scientists has changed how she sees the world, and how she describes it visually.
Below are works Ree has contributed to the program over the years.
Ree worked on three separate collaborations for the 2017 program, which invited collaborators and the viewing public to "peer through the lens of the arts to discover the hidden world of microscopic organisms." Mircobial Worlds ITOC website
For Toolik Chain of Lakes, Ree and collaborator Charlotte Bird joined Jason Dobkowski collecting specimens during a field trip to Toolik Lake in Arctic Alaska.
Ree's quilt (the larger work) focused on the microbial communities of a study area which eventually flowed into Toolik Lake, while Charlotte's three smaller works zoomed into microbial life found in the streams.
Mysterious Underground — another collaboration between Ree and Charlotte Bird — explores the fungal world beneath the soil. Charlotte developed Mysterious Underground (the upper work) as a focus quilt, and Ree responded with Mycorrhizae (the lower work).
The pair joined Gary Laursen’s mycology field course in Denali National Park, hosted by Alaska Geographic. The class collected and identified over 100 species. Charlotte & Ree made spore prints, dissected samples, and studied the role of fungi in mediating many energy transformation processes vital to life, including parasitism, symbiosis, decay, and fungi as food for insects, birds, and small mammals.
Deceptive Beauty explores thawing permafrost and the release of methane from new and existing lakes. Ree partnered with writer Debbie Clarke Moderow on this piece, and the two worked with aquatic ecosystem ecologist Katey Walter Anthony as she tended to her studies of methane in the frozen lakes outside of Fairbanks.
Ree’s quilt and Debbie’s excerpt describes Katey’s work and what is happening in the production of methane in the far north.
From The Narrow Line: Where Art Meets Science by Debbie Clarke Moderow — “The lake is alive. Its ice is a time-lapse photo, documenting the progression of a microbial feast. As the water began to freeze, archaea on the lake's floor munched on recently thawed plant matter and released methane. Rising bubbles were trapped in ice at different levels — captured, through time, in a process that continues today. While sculpin fin their final strokes and waterbugs struggle for one last hour, a scientist kneels down to collect bubbles. An artist and a writer, watch, trying to understand.”
An installation of visual and literary art that explores the intricate web of predator/prey ecosystem relationships and what occurs when the web of consumption is disturbed or altered by the removal or introduction of key animal or vegetative species. Trophic Cascades are indirect effects that occur among the various levels of an ecological web once a 'keystone' species has been removed or introduced. Trophic Cascades ITOC website
Ree worked with fellow-artist and frequent collaborator Charlotte Bird on two works for this year's installation.
The Art of Fire
In a Time of Change: The Art of Fire was a visual art project designed to generate excitement, facilitate mutual understanding and promote meaningful dialogue on issues related to fire science and society. The Art of Fire ITOC website
Watch a 2012 lecture by Ree discussing her involvement in The Art of Fire.
Envisioning the Future
Climatically, ecologically, and culturally, Alaska is changing as rapidly as any place on the planet. Combining the perspectives of artists, writers, and scientists, Envisioning the Future formulates the problems as we see them and offers possible solutions. Envisioning the Future ITOC website
Deneki Lakes: Then and Now
The companion quilts Deneki Lakes: Then and Now depict the successional changes that took place over 50 years in the small glacial pond located right out my front window. The water level dropped at least two feet. The surface of the lake decreased substantially as sedges and equisetum grew in at the edges. Some of the trees have grown, and two have died. The tree line on the mountain is higher, a result of the increasing temperatures due to climate change.
In the 1950’s and 60’s black and white was still generally in use for everyday photos; color photographs began to dominate in the 1970’s. I thought it would be interesting to do the oldest version in black-and-white, and the newer one in color. I experimented using ebony pencil on fabric, treating it to bond permanently to the fabric.
The color version is the first quilt I did making fabric images specifically to tell a story.