Although glaciers appear motionless to our human eye, they are constantly advancing or retreating, gaining precipitation in the winter season and losing ice to glacial melt in the summer season. While this yearly cycle is natural, as a result of human-caused climate change we are currently experiencing rapid and unprecedented retreat and melt from mountain glaciers and sea ice around the world.
Because it is so accessible, everyone I’ve met in Juneau has a story about visiting and interacting with the Mendenhall Glacier. I too feel compelled to explore the significance of this glacier, connecting to it on a physical and emotional level – not just in its present form and location as it calves into the lake, but also its absence in the area that it has disappeared; the glacier’s “ghost.” To me, Juneau feels haunted by its water in many forms, as the Mendenhall River carries glacier melt out to the ocean. I am fascinated by the relationship between and interaction of these different bodies of water – saltwater oceans and freshwater glaciers – and the subsequent lakes that contain, rivers that carry, oceans that receive water.
For this series, I collected rocks and residue samples from the historic terminus sites along a trail where the glacier used to end, according to year. I then used these specimen to create prints, exposing them on cyanotype-coated scientific filter paper. To stop the exposure process, I fixed them with ocean water from the harbor in Juneau where I was living. Since cyanotype is sensitive to UV light and is a photographic process, these prints become direct records of the elements and specimen interacting with the paper, the passage of time onsite, the strength of the sunlight during exposure, and my interactions with the materials.