A very nice article by Hope McLeod came out in the Bayfield County Journal about our project and my background/artwork today. Such a very gifted writer to weave so many elements together. Thank you!
BAYFIELD– Pen, brush or camera in hand — what better way to celebrate the beauty of the northland than to create art on the banks of Bad River or the shores of Lake Superior?
Janet Moore, a professional watercolorist/journal writer is coordinating an art adventure this summer called, “Beyond Words,” funded by a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant supporting 25 Bad River youth, Tribal Youth Media (TYM), and non-tribal members in a series of place-based workshops across six locations in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (AINL) and the greater Lake Superior watershed.
Open to high school ages and above, this series includes five free place-based workshops in photography, drawing, painting, pastels and traditional Ojibwe art led by artists, scientists and Ojibwe culture experts from the area. This includes Jeff Rennicke, Terry Daulton, Diane Canfield Bywaters, Biskakone Greg Johnson, and Moore. Also, as part of Bad River Youth Outdoors (BRYO), a summer camp on the reservation, Tribal Youth Media (TYM) will create a video documentary about “Beyond Words.”
The intention of this project is to teach participants about the ecology, culture and history of each place and create artwork that “communicates their experience to the public and raises the awareness of the beauty, as well as imminent threats to this stunning natural area,” Moore stated in her grant application. To accomplish this, “Beyond Words” will be held outdoors following the ripple of water as it flows from the headwaters of Bad River through the Kakagon wild rice sloughs, to Madeline Island, around the AINL, and on to Red Cliff. Participants will learn (or brush up on) artistic skills used to create images that will integrate scientific and traditional knowledge of the area, the goal being to create a common vision that builds a bridge between generations and cultures. Completed works will be displayed in a public exhibition during the winter of 2016/2017.
“I’d like to attract a dedicated group of tribal and non-tribal youth, as well as interested community members, artists, etc.,” said Moore before giving a “Beyond Words” presentation at AINL headquarters on May 12. “Not necessarily ‘professionals,’ sometimes the most powerful art comes from people who are new to the process.”
The first workshop takes place at the Washburn Cultural Center on June 18 where participants will meet the artists and learn some basic art techniques.
“Since I teach field sketching and journaling, I will share those skills and Jeff will teach photography techniques. Those two skills will help participants gather their impressions of places in the field and can inform their final work,” Moore said.
Moore, though not from the area, has been a frequent visitor for over 20 years.
“I was smitten with this place, especially the crystal clear water. There’ve been many family vacations, teaching at summer workshops, stolen weekends from graduate school to work on my nature journals and paintings, followed by longer trips, until I finally had to give in and just move up here to save on travel time (a year ago),” she said.
Travel time was from Portage, Wisconsin where she grew up on a farm across from the Grassy Lake State Natural Area — 700 acres of pristine wilderness. This, and another not so beautiful place significantly impacted her childhood. On the other side of her farm was a rural county landfill that became a Superfund site due to unauthorized toxic waste.
“One day I came home and we couldn’t drink the water. I credit these two early experiences with shaping who I am today, and for giving me an understanding, on an emotional level, of the importance of protecting the water,” said Moore, who dreamed up “Beyond Words” as a means of protecting Lake Superior.
Moore balances her own art with teaching.
“I get tremendous satisfaction from seeing people who say they ‘are no good at art’ discover their creative voice,’ she said.
Her vision for “Beyond Words” began with her own place-based immersion in Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands as an artist. Gradually she became acquainted with some of the environmental threats facing the northland —the proposed Penokee mine in Iron County and a CAFO in Eileen — and began exploring environmental education through art. She also became acquainted with Ojibwe culture and art.
“At one point I asked myself, ‘how could art play a part in preserving and protecting the water, the beauty of this place and uniting people around it?’”
An answer crystalized after finishing graduate school last summer at UW-Stevens Point, when Diane Canfield Bywaters (art professor and former Apostle Islands Artist-in-Residence) mentioned the NEA Imagine Your Parks Grant. With only a month to complete her application, she hunkered down and immediately identified the important elements of her project: art, science and Ojibwe culture, “not just a token interest, but as a foundation.” She enlisted Mike Wiggins, former tribal chairman from Bad River, to help her, along with Loew, and Bob Krumenaker, AINL Superintendent, and his staff.
On May 11, NEA and the National Park Service announced an allocation of $1,067,500 in grant support for 50 grants in 27 states, including $15,000 awarded to the Bad River Tribe for Beyond Words: Artistic Visions of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands with an Imagine Your Parks Grant. Moore is now ready to paddle this stream with her team.
“Jeff is a fantastic teacher/writer whose photography is sublime,” Moore crooned. “He has this way of capturing the light, beauty and spirit of Lake Superior that is ‘beyond words,’ but also has a gift for opening others’ hearts and minds to seeing the beauty around us.”
A writing/photography instructor at Conserve School, an environmental high school, Rennicke is a widely published writer in National Geographic Traveler, Backpacker, and Reader’s Digest, to name a few.
Also on Moore’s team, Johnson expresses himself through his Ojibwe heritage.
“He’s preserving many art forms for future generations and is very effective in teaching non-native people (such as myself) in ways I can understand,” Moore said.
Johnson’s workshops will take place at Bad River from July 6-8 during which time participants will also be introduced to Jessie Conaway of BRYO, founder of this summer camp that teaches outdoor skills to tribal kids so they could explore the water and learn more about their culture.
Bywaters will teach a workshop on Madeline Island on July 19 while Loew’s TYM crew films it.
“Diane has done 13 artist residencies in National Parks, and has taught plein aire painting in oils and acrylics in tandem with natural resource professors at UW-Stevens Point. She has a very engaging and unintimidating teaching style,” Moore said.
Loew, who’ll weave in and out of “Beyond Words” with TYM, is in the process of training and empowering dozens of youth in video production, her goal being to produce the next generation of storytellers and land stewards.
“I’m so honored to have her support for this project and am excited to see how these young artists will capture it,” Moore said.
On August 10, Daulton will teach a workshop in partnership with AINL interpreters on Stockton Island.
“Her artwork reflects a wonderful level of art and science integration, as well as her deep knowledge of the Apostle Islands and Lake Superior watershed and issues it faces,” Moore added.
Moore said she “stands on the shoulders of giants” and is part of a collective vision nurtured by the efforts of many others who’ve led successful projects in the past. However, hers will be looking through the lens of art.
Hope McLeod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.