Tidelines Journey Press Release

  • Posted on: 5 April 2017
  • By: Peter

As the environmental noise of human impact rises alongside the internal and technological noise of modern life, what is being heard? Who is being over powered? How do we remain receptive to important signals in the face of so much noise? This April, the Island Institute will work to explore these and related questions through a traveling ferry tour with a group of artists from across the country. As the tour travels through Ketchikan, Juneau, Gustavus, and Sitka, the Island Institute hopes to foster new ways of thinking about the ways that we understand place, nature, and community. In each community, the artists will present their work and ideas to the community, will foster conversations around the core theme, and will visit schools to lead workshops, expeditions, and presentations.

The tour will begin in Bellingham on April 7th and will culminate in Sitka on April 30th.

In Ketchikan, the tour will be co-presented by the Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities Council, with the main event taking place on April 10th from 6-9pm at the Main Street Gallery. After a 6-7pm reception, the traveling artists will present their work and ideas alongside Ketchikan locals, including writer Rebekka Esbjornson. A group conversation about the theme will follow the presentations around 8pm. There is also an opportunity to join the group for a walk departing from the Main St Gallery on April 9th at 2pm - to RSVP or if you can help drive from the Gallery to the trailhead, contact peter@iialaska.org.

In Juneau, the tour will be co-presented by the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, with the main event taking place on April 15th at the JACC from 6-9pm. After a 6-7pm reception co-hosted by the Juneau Bahá'í community, the traveling artists will present their work and ideas alongside Juneau locals, including MK MacNaughton, Rachel Juzeler, and Marian Call. A group conversation inspired by the presentations and the theme will follow around 8pm. There is also an opportunity to join the group for a walk departing from the JACC on April 16th at 9am - to RSVP or if you can help drive from the JACC to the trailhead, contact peter@iialaska.org.

In Gustavus, the tour will be co-presented by the Gustavus Public Library, with the main event taking place on April 18th at the library from 6-9pm. After a reception,  the traveling artists will present their work and ideas alongside Gustavus locals. A group conversation inspired by the presentations and the theme will follow around 8pm. In Gustavus, the touring group will also spend time in schools. Working with art classes and Special Education students. For Betty Hanson, Special Education Teacher at Gustavus School, the tour represents "a great opportunity for my students to understand different approaches to art and the relationship of art and science as well as to social change and justice."

In Sitka, the tour will culminate with a week of activities. On April 26th, a 6pm reception for the tour at 304 Baranof St will be followed by the final Writers Read event of the season, featuring readings by local writers. On April 28th,  the traveling artists will present their work and ideas alongside Sitka locals. A group conversation inspired by the presentations and the theme will follow around 8pm. April 29th will be a day of workshops and conversations at 304 Baranof St. All week, the artists will work with Hillary Seeland's Literature and the Environment class at Pacific High School. Local listeners can tune in to Morning Edition on KCAW on Monday 24th and Thursday 27th for more information.

This is the second year of the arts-based tour, called the Tidelines Journey. This year's guiding theme is Signal To Noise, in reference to an audio and engineering term which compares the level of a desired signal against the background noise interfering with it. According to Island Institute director Peter Bradley, the theme was inspired through conversations in the course of last year's Tidelines Journey.

He explains, "We heard from birders who increasingly struggle to hear bird song over the din of airplane and car noise, even in small-town Alaska; we heard whale researchers' worries that boat engine noise interferes with communication between whales; we heard teenagers talking about the social din of a life of technological connection. More recently, questions of truth in media and government of raised similar questions that are close to the heart of this theme. Ultimately, the theme is about considering oppression and inequity in both our human and ecological communities, and also about thinking about how to navigate the overwhelming daily noise of media and technology, particularly in these times of political division."


Four artists will join Bradley on the tour:

Nina Elder is a research-based artist  whose drawings and paintings often bring attention to landscapes effected by human industry. For Elder, an important part of this tour is the chance to "focus on the ethics and morals of our role, as travelers, artists, consumers, and citizens, within the cacophony of climate change."

Billy Joe Miller of Albuquerque creates sculptures and other structures through collaborative processes with other artists or communities. Miller says that his practice "incorporates elements sourced from my immediate environs, transforming them into structures, shapes, and sounds that make it relatable to the human condition. Being in (and responding to) the natural landscape is my equivalent to church; I am moved by stories of transformation and the balance in nature and how natural systems rapidly adapt to changing conditions."

Jimmy Riordan splits his time between Alaska and Pennsylvania, and his projects have involved earth building, augmented reality, letterpress and translation. His work is often participatory and involves collaboration with other artists, craftspeople and social scientists. These days, Jimmy says that he "has been working on a body of art and curatorial projects that deal with the notion of memory as landscape."

Wendy Given, of Portland, is a photographer and sculpture. She describes her work as "Resonating in the dark, unstable ground between consciousness and collective memory." Given says that through her craft, she "Investigates the intersection of the natural world, folklore, history, myth and magic. My work possesses a keen sensibility in observing, documenting and seamlessly merging the natural with the otherworldly—or seemingly supernatural."

Bradley says that the tour is designed to serve several functions - for the artists, it is a sort of experiential nomadic arts residency program, offering the chance for artists to learn from one another as well as from Alaska's people and places. For youth and adults in the communities, the tour is designed to offer a chance to connect artistic practices, ideas, and expressions to humanistic themes, opening up space for dialogue, consideration, and inspiration. For the Island Institute, the tour is an element of the organization's work to foster a language of place and community in Southeast Alaska. As the group tours through the communities, each will document the tour in various ways which will hopefully be utilized in print publications or a radio/podcast miniseries.   

Tidelines Journey is made possible with funding by Rasmuson Foundation through the Harper Arts Touring Fund, and administered, under contract, by the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Additional funding came from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Machamer Charitable Fund, and the Juneau Community Foundation.


For more information about the tour, please visit www.iialaska.org/tidelines/2017 or contact Peter Bradley at peter@iialaska.org.


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