As this class is Art, Science, and the Environment, I found it fitting that I could use my own art to explore new dimensions of my environmentally-based science. For the past few years, I’ve been doing research on a population of Leach’s Storm Petrels on Bowdoin’s Kent Island. While I understand the necessity for objective, data-based science, I am often frustrated with the relatively dry, emotionless way many scientists discuss the living things they work with. I wanted to express the beauty I find in my research subjects, as well as the habitats they live in. I think art, especially this sort of careful, observation-based art, shows and requires the deep care and reverence that I want to see more in the scientific community.
Because my work is in many ways illustrative, it has a bit more of an explicit purpose than some other work I’ve done. Despite this, I wanted to make sure that my drawings can hold their own as individual works, not just scientific illustrations. To do this, I had to keep in mind the same rules of composition, design, and general aesthetic appeal, that I’ve considered in my studio art practice for years.
It is probably obvious to you all that these pieces are very much a continuation of the pen and ink drawing I did while we were still at Bowdoin, both in style and subject matter. A lot of my interest in both my art and science focuses on my enjoyment of the many small details of the natural world. These can be as lively as the burrowing birds themselves, or as innocuous as the tiny tangle of leaves that make up the moss on a stump. I’ve really enjoyed trying to capture a the near-magical essence of a small patch of ground. Some, like my field of fireweed and goldenrod, are bursting with energy, bees flying, flowers pointed towards the sun. Others showcase the more quiet complexity of the fungi, plants, and insects that also make their homes near the petrel burrows.
To give a taste for what this work looks like in its more scientific contexts, I’ve included screenshots of the figures in my honors project’s methods section, as well as under the acknowledgements, where I’ve decided to put my field drawing.