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October 1, 2008

First Friday exhibit connects art and arctic science

Local painter inspired by SFOS researchers

Click on the image to view a web gallery of Farnham's paintings and the photographs that inspired them. This painting: "Benthos" by Susan Farnham. In her own words: "This painting is about the creatures that live at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. The brittle star, a noted creature of this realm, is the main focus in this painting which is also about pattern and repetition. As I painted these invertebrates I found myself repeatedly drawing variations of a semi-round shape to form the mouth of the sponge, the shell of the chiton, the center of the brittle star."

Editor's Note: View web galleries of Farnham's paintings and the photographs that inspired them here.

Fairbanks, Alaska—This Friday a local art gallery will feature paintings inspired by the arctic research and photographs of University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists.

Susan Farnham, a Fairbanks artist, has been working with Bodil Bluhm and Rolf Gradinger, biological oceanographers at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, to create artwork that celebrates the northern creatures they study.

The exhibit is based on the findings of the Arctic Ocean Diversity project, an international effort to catalog life in arctic seas and sea ice. The project is led by Bluhm, Gradinger and Russ Hopcroft, another biological oceanographer at UAF.

The exhibit will be held this Friday, Oct. 3, at the Well Street Art Center gallery. The show will feature paintings by Farnham as well as 19 photographs by Bluhm, Gradinger and other scientists. The painter and photographers will be at the exhibit's opening ceremony.

"We are very excited about this unique opportunity to connect science and art," said Bluhm. "In a time of climate change, we see this exhibition as a way to attract people that may not otherwise think or care about the Arctic and the life within it."

Farnham's paintings range from representational to abstract and feature richly colored arctic sea creatures, including sea stars, jellyfish, amphipods (tiny shrimp-like animals) and plankton.

According to Farnham, the exhibit commemorates International Polar Year, a global initiative among scientists to better understand the polar regions of the Arctic and Antarctic.

The ArcOD project is part of the global Census of Marine Life, which seeks to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of life in the world's oceans.

The paintings and photographs will be on display until Nov. 4. After being displayed in Fairbanks, the exhibit may travel to other venues in Alaska and Canada.

The UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences conducts world-class marine and fisheries research, education and outreach across Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctic. 55 faculty scientists and 135 students are engaged in building knowledge about Alaska and the world's coastal and marine ecosystems. SFOS is headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and serves the state from facilities located in Seward, Juneau, Anchorage and Kodiak.

Amphipods under the sea ice. Photo by Shawn Harper

A painting by Susan Farnham called "Pelagic Realm." In her own words: Pelagic Realm is about the frenetic movement of copepods which is represented by the brushwork. The movement dictates the design and composition of this more abstract painting."

Arctic cod in the sea ice. Photo by Shawn Harper.

Polar bears on the Arctic sea ice. Photo by Rolf Gradinger.

"Under the Ice," a painting by Susan Farnham.

Sea stars and more. Photo by Bodil Bluhm.


Carin Stephens
SFOS Public Information Officer

Phone: 907-322-8730
Staff webpage

Bodil Bluhm
UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
Phone: 907-474-6332
Faculty webpage

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