Figure 4. Deceptive Beauty. Spontaneous collaborations emerged among participating artists and writers during unstructured time on field trips and facilitated collaborations with scientists. Artist Ree Nancarrow and writer Debbie Clarke Moderow found they shared a common interest in methane while on the 12-hour bus ride home from Toolik Field Station. The ITOC director connected them with methane researcher Katey Walter Anthony and the three collaborated on the fiber art quilt Deceptive Beauty, which features an image of Katey Walter Anthony collecting methane samples, shows flames that can occur when methane bubbles are lit on fire, and references a passage in Moderow’s essay The Narrow Line: Where Art Meets Science. See Artists' Statement in Supplemental Material, below.
Image of an artist quilt on the left and an excerpt of an essay accompanying the quilt on the right. The quilt depicts a subarctic lake with bubbles floating upward from the sediment and freezing into the ice on the surface. There are tiny oblong shapes depicted in the lake bottom that represent microorganisms. A large inset panel at the top of the lake depicts flames. A smaller inset panel shows a scientist using an apparatus to collect methane samples from the lake. The lake is surrounded by spruce trees. Predominant colors are orange and light blue. The excerpt from the essay reads “This lake is alive. Its ice is a time-lapse photo documenting the progression of a microbial feast. When water began to freeze last week, archaea on the lake’s floor were munching on recently thawed plant matter and releasing methane. The resulting bubbles rose toward the surface, slowing at different levels in the rapidly freezing water. They were captured, through time, in a process that continues today. Now sculpin fin their final strokes and waterbugs struggle for one more hour – and a scientist, an artist, and a writer scurry on the surface, trying to understand. – Debbie Clarke Moderow, Excerpt from The Narrow Line: Where Art Meets Science.”
Photo by Eric Nancarrow