Vanishing landscape

Courtesy of TransArtists

Rebecca Barfoot will spend six weeks living in this cabin for her summer residency at the Upernavik Retreat in Greenland. The house was originally built in 1848 to house the islandís cooper, who built barrels there to ship and store the seal and whale oil that kept the settlement alive.

By Ted Holteen
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Artists find inspiration in a lot of places, but few will ever know exactly what Durango artist Rebecca Barfoot will experience during her artist-in-residency in Greenland this summer.

ďI was doing some late-night Internet trolling and just stumbled on it,Ē Barfoot said of her upcoming stay near the top of the world.

Beginning in late June, Barfoot will spend six weeks at the Upernavik Museum on the northwest coast of Greenland in the Arctic Circle. Her art and research project is called ďLast Places.Ē Itís about vanishing landscapes and the impact of global warming on Arctic communities and ecosystems.

Itís the northernmost museum in the world, and judging from maps and photos, it probably feels like it, too.

ďIím curious to see how itís going to feel, that kind of isolation. Itís like being at the edge of the continent or the edge of the planet. I think itís going to be powerful,Ē Barfoot said.

Barfoot is a multi-talented artist who works in many mediums, but sheíll be limited by logistics for this trip. Her itinerary will take her from Albuquerque to Copenhagen to Nuuk, Greenlandís capital and, finally, north to Upernavik. The airfare is daunting enough without adding shipping expenses, so sheíll only bring with her what she can carry. That means sheíll have photos, sketches, video, cyanotype contact prints, small paintings and recording informal interviews with local people. Her ceramic and porcelain work will have to wait until she gets back.

ďA lot of what Iíll be doing is preliminary work for a presentation that Iíll put together back in Durango and take on a traveling exhibit,Ē Barfoot said.

She will live in a small cabin provided by the museum. Thatís the only cost that will be covered, and for the rest, the working artist has set up a account to raise money.

That part of the project has led to some sleepless nights for Barfoot, but even thatís good practice. Because she will be there June 30, a week after the summer solstice, thereís one subject that wonít appear in any of her work Ė a sunset.

ďItíll be 24 hours of daylight, and thatís something Iíve never experienced. But some of my favorite art that Iíve done has come when I donít get enough sleep, so that might be fun. Itís also a little scary,Ē she said.

Barfoot will announce the dates for her post-residency showings after she returns.

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