Had I taken these photographic sequences of ice twenty or more years ago they would have been predominantly about form and color, abstraction and distortion, landscape and remoteness, time and motion. Indeed, all these elements have greatly motivated me. But now there is an additional, urgent underlying message that is attached. Ice has become the canary in the coal mine and a symbol of climate change on a warming planet.
Scientists observe and measure the amounts of sea ice and the depth of ice sheets at the polar regions of both the Arctic and Antarctic to determine how quickly the earth's ice is melting. Melting ice sheets, such as those on Greenland and Antarctica, are great cause for concern. Sea levels are rising at an alarming rate. Retreating glaciers worldwide place an exclamation point on these observations.
For these very same reasons, many artists have been drawn to ice as a subject. In this series of sequences, I have photographed both sea ice and glacial ice - more commonly known as ice bergs. The former, which is sea water that freezes in winter and melts in summer, does not add to sea level rise. However, the diminishing amount of sea ice provides further evidence of an earth which is warming more rapidly than was predicted just a few years ago. Glacial ice, which is frozen fresh water from densely compacted snowfall over millennia, does add to sea level rise as it has come off the land and calves into the sea from a glacier. Such accelerating threats to our coast will be more fully explored in my current book project, East Coast: Arctic to Tropic.
These photographs were taken on my Arctic Circle shipboard artist residency to Svalbard, in June, 2014. www.thearcticcircle.org