Chattermarks

From North Cascades Institute

Search Chattermarks

North Cascades on Instagram

Archives

Photo by Pablo McLoud

Pablo McLoud: Artist in Residence

November 22nd, 2017 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

Pablo McLoud participated in the North Cascades Institute’s Creative Residence Program this October, joining the tradition of poets, naturalists, dancers and researchers who have participated in the past.

Pablo is self-described as “an amateur photographer using Canon cameras.” He prides himself on taking photographs from a perspective and vantage point that many find original. For some of his photos, his unique “slant” on ordinary subjects elicits responses like “Wow! I’ve never seen a picture like that before.” Without the use of digital manipulation in a majority of his work, Pablo’s images deliver the purity of the event in a special moment in time.

Pablo’s mantra is “If you don’t explore, you’ll never discover.”

And he definitely took the time to explore during his Residency experience! Below are some of his beautiful photos from around North Cascades National Park and surrounding wilderness areas.

Photo by Pablo McLoud

Leave Me Be; photo by Pablo McLoud

» Continue reading Pablo McLoud: Artist in Residence

NCI-VR1

Winter Musing in an Alpine Refuge: Creative residency January 18-30, 2016

May 30th, 2016 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

By Véronique Robigou – Artist, Geologist, and Natural Science Illustrator.

At the start of the year, I was very fortunate to join the legion of artists, naturalists, and scientists who before me have benefited from the North Cascades’ Institute Creative Residency Program. A retreat as artist-in-residence in the remote, alpine setting of the North Cascades Learning Center! An escape from my city routine with all the comfort of a chalet in the forest, the support of the center staff, and the intellectual stimulation of interacting with graduate students that study environmental education at the center. What an ideal way to start the year!

NCI-VR2

In winter, the Diablo lake landscape is not as colorful as alpine peaks and meadows blooming in Spring nor as glorious as the golden forests of the Fall but… the dark gray skies, the perfectly still surface of the lake, and the snowy trails are conducive to quiet and creative reflection – a luxury that I rarely have time for in my daily life.  I relished long, silent walks through the forests, and along the lakeshore, and many hikes up the snow-covered, mountain trails. The seemingly, dormant nature was amazingly vibrant with mosses and mushrooms thriving in the constant rain. And plants, bushes and trees were nurturing intricate, delicate buds. Buds that my eye had never quite noticed in the same way before. As I explored the area for the first time, I discovered nature in a season during which I usually don’t sketch in “plein air”. Hiking silently through towering Douglas firs, Sitka alders, and Ponderosa pines gave me an opportunity to muse and dream up new projects. Immersed in the subdued colors of winter, my sketches were infused not only by my observations in the natural world but also by the pitter-patter of rain, the raucous call of a solitary raven or the occasional rock fall on the mountain slope. Sounds became elements of my visual musings. Sounds became colors.

NCI-VR3

When the rain would not take a break, I found refuge in the cozy center’s library to read and do research. Focusing on local, topographic maps, reports about the construction of the hydroelectric dams on the Skagit River, history of the Diablo lake region and natural history guides of the area, I unearthed fascinating ingredients that will feed new artworks. Over the next few months, all this new information, my observations and my impressions will gradually coalesce into new ideas to express with colors on paper and reflecting my time at NCI.

My discussions with the talented staff and students at the center have been some of the brightest moments of my stay. Sharing meals, life experiences and stories, art and science insights, and teaching strategies enriched my reflective time with energy from a youthful and dedicated group of people that enthusiastically share their passion for the environment. The atmosphere that they create and nurture at the center is a priceless addition to any creative endeavor. I also spent time facilitating an “Art of Map” workshop for the graduate students who literally transformed a gloomy, rainy day into “Liquid Sunshine”. Read more at

http://www.oceanetterrastudio.com/blog/liquid-sunshine.

As much as I thrive in the intensity of traveling afar, I may have found that a local, creative haven at the North Cascades Learning Center. How thrilling to have access to this refuge just a few hours from my studio! I look forward to future explorations at and around the center in all seasons.

Véronique is an artist, natural science illustrator, geologist, and educator at Ocean et Terra Studio in Seattle, WA. Learn more at www.oceanetterrastudio.com

Class 1

Véronique Robigou: Artistic Mapper in Residence

February 18th, 2016 | Posted by in Graduate M.Ed. Program

Véronique Robigou participated in the North Cascades Institute’s Creative Residence Program this winter, joining the tradition of poets, naturalists, dancers and researchers who have participated in the past.

As described by the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Northwest, Véronique is an “artist, scientific illustrator, geologist and educator.” She launched the Ocean et Terra Studio in 2011 to “create visual stories of the world around us.” Trained as a geologist she has worked on scientific crews illustrating undersea vents far, far beneath the surface. She now mostly uses her gifts to educate students about how to capture the essence of nature in their own work.

Véronique discussing the Sea Vents she illustrated.

Vent

Véronique’s illustration of the Godzilla Vent. Note the submersable that she drew from located on the left hand side of the illustration. Retrieved from marine-geo.org

» Continue reading Véronique Robigou: Artistic Mapper in Residence

Cascade-bottomlands-Sm

Kristin Musgnug: Artist in Residence

December 4th, 2015 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

By Kristin Musgnug

I am a landscape painter whose goal is to make paintings of the kind of places that don’t usually show up in landscape paintings – places that are not conventionally beautiful. While I thoroughly enjoyed the extraordinary beauty of the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center’s surroundings, it was a particular challenge to find places that evoked other responses.

My project while at theEnvironmental Learning Center involved close up painting of the forest floor, particularly in the lush undergrowth of old, wild forests. This project’s emphasis on intact, mostly un-interfered-with location represents a bit of a departure for me. For years my work has investigated the relations between humans and the natural world by painting in places where the results of this interaction were visible. Much of my work has been generated by considering such questions as: how our attitudes towards nature affect our actions towards it, how and why we shape the environment, and how we in turn are shaped by it. To do this I have often focused on landscapes shaped by a particular type of land use, such as campgrounds, parks, gardens, logged forests, parking lots and miniature golf courses.

» Continue reading Kristin Musgnug: Artist in Residence

Paul Willis 2

Creative Residency: Paul Willis

June 11th, 2015 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

by Paul Willis

Last fall I was lucky enough to serve as an artist-in-residence for North Cascades National Park. They gave me a room in the ranger cabin at the entrance to the Newhalem Campground, and most days I was out hiking around, fishing for poems. Most of them swam into being on the trail, not at my desk, a sort of literary version of plein air painting. As Rebecca Solnit has said, the mind works best at three miles an hour.

As an English professor for the last thirty years in New York and California, I have missed the Northwest. I grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, across the Willamette Valley from the shining peaks of the Cascades. My brother and I began to explore them in high school, and the mountains planted something inside us that has remained. He now lives near Ashland, Oregon, and was one of the prime movers for the designation of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. While in graduate school at Washington State University, I did my part by helping to gain protection for the Salmo-Priest Wilderness, the last home of the mountain caribou in the lower forty-eight.

But unlike my brother, I did not find pleasure in the dogfights of politicking for wilderness. Writing about it has felt much better to me, first in a series of eco-fantasy novels now published as The Alpine Tales, and more recently in the occasional essay and the more frequent poem. So my brother and I have slipped into a symbiotic relationship: he does the dirty work of fighting for wilderness preservation, and I do the easy work of actually enjoying the wilderness. I would like to think, however, that the things I write are some sort of encouragement to him, so that’s my side of the symbiosis. Our mutual friend David James Duncan, the novelist, complained to me that he feels torn between his activist side, wanting to save rivers, and his contemplative side, wanting to write novels. What you need, I said, is a brother who saves the rivers for you.

But back to last fall in Newhalem. The Park Service did want me to earn my keep by offering a couple of writing workshops for visitors. One I led at the Newhalem Visitor Center, and another at the Environmental Learning Center. The latter workshop was part of an adult weekend organized by Katie Roloson and Chris Kiser of the North Cascades Institute. These two young women were extraordinarily adept, I thought, at gently leading us into situations of discovery. No information dumps. Just tact, patience, and the right word at the right time. I found that I liked these people.

So when the opportunity came to return to the North Cascades this spring as a creative resident here at the Institute, I was very happy to do so. It is now the end of May, and I have been here for a month. The berries of fall have been replaced by the flowers of spring, all begging to be written about. I have gone on a couple of five-day saunters, one on the East Bank Trail to Desolation Peak, and one down Bridge Creek to Stehekin. On the Bridge Creek Trail I met a total of two people and five bears. A pretty good ratio, actually.

Here at the ELC I have enjoyed eating meals, washing dishes, and swapping stories with the staff. Such youth! Such energy! Such devotion! Their lively presence sweetens my days. We all did a hike-ku together one afternoon, writing down a few things in response to our surroundings, and a few days later I gave a talk to the grad students on John Muir’s theology of glaciers, complemented the following week by a very substantive lecture given by Jon Riedel on glaciers of the North Cascades. In another couple of days I will give a farewell reading of some of my work-in-progress at an afternoon staff meeting. And already I dread my departure. There might be a better sabbatical in the world, but I cannot imagine one.

As a sample of that work-in-progress, I’ll leave you with the draft of a poem I happened to catch two weeks ago:

Pyramid Creek

Clearest stream, you wander here
from gravel bed to gravel bed,
napping in pools along the way.

You lave the roots of dusky cedars,
leaning with age, and reassure them
they have many years to leave.

Thick green moss describes your banks,
saplings of hemlock, little hands
of soft vine maple raised in air.

They want to ask if there is any other
place you’d rather be, but off you go,
down to the river, down to the sea.

                       —Ross Lake National Recreation Area

Paul J. Willis is a professor of English at Westmont College and a former poet laureate of Santa Barbara, California. His most recent collection is Say This Prayer into the Past (Cascade Books, 2013). Learn more at pauljwillis.com.

Tele & Joel w fish, edited

Fisherman, Writer, Artist-in-Residence: Thankful

November 29th, 2013 | Posted by in Life at the Learning Center

Ordinarily, the fourth Thursday of November isn’t a big deal for me. I am a fisherman – if you’ve enjoyed salmon at the Environmental Learning Center, it was coho my partner, Joel, and I caught on our troller, the Nerka – so my celebration falls in mid-September, when Alaska’s salmon season comes to a close. Fishermen’s Thanksgiving. A group of us gather on someone’s back deck (admittedly, we’re the more left-listing, green-hearted members of our fleet), share a potluck feast and give thanks for our season’s harvest, praising the ocean’s mercy and her bounty. It’s become my tradition, ringing true to me in a way that the November date never did.

But this November is different. I will be giving thanks – from Dogwood 2, my new winter home as North Cascades Institute’s Artist-in-Residence. As a writer with a manuscript deadline looming on spring’s horizon, I’m extremely grateful to be here. I give thanks to Anne Hubka, the Environmental Learning Center’s Administrative Assistant who, upon hearing that I needed a quiet, beautiful place to write my book, became my residency’s greatest champion. I give thanks to the students and staff who have made me feel so welcome in my first few days on campus. (Including Chandra Ruble, who took the time to organize a glorious rainbow of spices when she prepared D2. It makes me smile every time I open the drawer.) I give thanks to the administrators who chose to extend this generous opportunity.

Nerka with Mt FairweatherNerka trolling off Mt Fairweather. Photo by Jeff Thomas.

I wonder if this seems a strange partnership to some, a fisherman granted artistic refuge in the North Cascades Institute. But I am a tree hugging, tofu eating, public radio listening fisherman, and our missions are not contradictory. We share love and respect of wild places, and we are front row witnesses to the changing climate and oceans. We readily shoulder our responsibilities as guests, stewards and, in some cases, harvesters. One way I carry those responsibilities is by writing. Using personal essays, blog posts and now memoir, I strive to share a way of life – in all its bloodshed and beauty – that few people will otherwise know.

That’s the story I’m here to tell. Hooked: A Memoir of Love, Sex, and Salmon follows Joel and me through a season aboard the Nerka, as we chase salmon through the waters of Southeast Alaska. Salmon: carrying the scent of their natal rivers so deep within them, they fin thousands of miles before – inexplicably, instinctually – the urge to reproduce compels them home. Home… As if they’d never left. So unlike my own migratory childhood, where “home” was loosely defined and the only constant was my family’s slow disintegration. How did my parents fail in their partnership, and how can Joel and I choose to be different? What does it mean to be faithful – to a person, to a place, to a life? If salmon are, as artist Ray Troll says, “the fish that die for love,” what can they teach us?

My task is to produce a complete first draft by the time my residency concludes on February 15. It’ll be a busy winter, but you’ve given me the sanctuary to make this goal possible. While “thank you” is an important thing to say, gratitude is often better expressed through action. I look forward to giving back to NCI’s community, getting to know all of you and sharing some writerly time together. (Further appreciation: to everyone who’s made suggestions about possible workshop/group/reading ideas, these ideas help me tremendously. Stay tuned for what we end up offering.)

From Dogwood 2 to you, my heartfelt, true-ringing thanks.

Tele Writing on Anchor, editedTele writing on anchor. Photo by Joel Brady-Power.
Leading photo: Tele and Joel with Nerka Sea Frozen Salmon. Photo by Martin Gowdy.

 

Tele Aadsen is NCI’s Artist-in-Residence, where she is writing her first book, Hooked: A Season of Love, Sex, and Salmon (Riverhead Books, 2015). You can follow her work at www.teleaadsen.com, and find writing-related resources on her Facebook page. Her name is pronounced “Tell-ah,” and she is overly fond of corvids.