Several years ago, shortly after moving to Juneau from the Interior, I worked on a set of pictures at the Mendenhall Glacier. I struggled with the landscape, as I tried to illustrate the gulf I felt between the joy of seeing that glacier for the first time, and the sense of mourning I felt with each subsequent trip.
For two years I made pictures in that landscape, training my view camera on the bedrock that was cut by the ice. I was interested in proportion and loss, and turned my back on the glacier - instead, making pictures of the striations and abrasion, scrapes, and debris left by the ice’s retreat. A foreshadowing. I was consumed with the question of how to make a portrait of something by showing its path instead of its presence. The work, called Absence, ultimately didn’t work. The pictures folded under the weight of the idea.
Years later, my curiosity drew me back to a need to explore that vast blue space and eventually to the Juneau Icefield Research Program. I was looking for a reentry to that glorious landscape in peril - a different door into the visual conversation I still desired. What I found there was not the despair I still feel when I stand at the terminus of the mighty Mendenhall. Through the students of the program - these young scientists, teachers, artists, and advocates - I have found a small degree of hope.
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