Vanishing landscape

In Greenland, Durango artist will blend art and science

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 island’s cooper, who built barrels there to ship and store the seal and whale oil that kept the settlement alive. Enlarge photo

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 island’s cooper, who built barrels there to ship and store the seal and whale oil that kept the settlement alive.

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.

“I was doing some late-night Internet trolling and just stumbled on it,” 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 “Last Places.” It’s about vanishing landscapes and the impact of global warming on Arctic communities and ecosystems.

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

“I’m curious to see how it’s going to feel, that kind of isolation. It’s like being at the edge of the continent or the edge of the planet. I think it’s going to be powerful,” Barfoot said.

Barfoot is a multi-talented artist who works in many mediums, but she’ll be limited by logistics for this trip. Her itinerary will take her from Albuquerque to Copenhagen to Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and, finally, north to Upernavik. The airfare is daunting enough without adding shipping expenses, so she’ll only bring with her what she can carry. That means she’ll 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.

“A lot of what I’ll be doing is preliminary work for a presentation that I’ll put together back in Durango and take on a traveling exhibit,” Barfoot said.

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

That part of the project has led to some sleepless nights for Barfoot, but even that’s good practice. Because she will be there June 30, a week after the summer solstice, there’s one subject that won’t appear in any of her work – a sunset.

“It’ll be 24 hours of daylight, and that’s something I’ve never experienced. But some of my favorite art that I’ve done has come when I don’t get enough sleep, so that might be fun. It’s also a little scary,” she said.

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

ted@durangoherald.com

Barfoot’s cyanotype “Wasted/Wonderland” is a warm-up, so to speak, for her upcoming residency at Upernavik. Summer temperatures typically top out at about 45 degrees at the Arctic Circle archipelago. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Rebecca Barfoot

Barfoot’s cyanotype “Wasted/Wonderland” is a warm-up, so to speak, for her upcoming residency at Upernavik. Summer temperatures typically top out at about 45 degrees at the Arctic Circle archipelago.