‘Plankton Tow II’ oil, phosphorescent pigment on canvas, 48″ x 16″ – Krisanne Baker
‘Plankton Tow II’ depicts Phytoplankton and Zooplankton observed under a microscope following a summer evening plankton tow off the Isle of Shoals at Shoals Marine Laboratory, Appledore Island, Maine.
Krisanne Baker Artist Statement
Climate change: Ceci n’est pas de ‘science fiction’ (This is NOT science fiction)
Ecoartist, global water activist and citizen scientist Krisanne Baker says, “Water is our lifeblood.” She promotes advocacy for “all bodies of water – oceans, rivers, streams, vernal pools as unified and living entities.” Baker relates in one of her water advocacy video shorts that “what we do upstream, matters downstream” and that every being on this planet has a right to healthy water; and that ‘downstream’ ultimately means the ocean. Baker believes our planet is a living, breathing entity, and that as water evaporates, it respirates and rains, journeys through the oceans tides, currents and creatures, our bodies, rivers and streams, the clouds. The journey of water truly illustrates her belief in the saying that ‘What goes around, comes around.’
“Water is a commons – connecting every living being upon this planet … We are drawn to water’s beauty, as well as out of necessity.” With gentleness and care, Baker makes her point: the water that we drink is the same water that we use to wash away some of our worst ‘stuff.’ It is perhaps our most potent symbol of cleanliness, health and spiritual redemption – of life. “Water has long been viewed as a miracle substance that could somehow dissipate all toxins and garbage thrown into it. We’ve learned that these things don’t just disappear – water needs care.”
Most importantly, the Gulf of Maine community is a unique nutrient rich and biodiverse marine habitat that requires protection. Our ocean can no longer absorb the exponentially increasing amounts of waste, carbon dioxide and chemical refuses of a continually expanding human culture. The prehistoric basis for the ocean food web was and continues to be tiny Cyanobacteria and related Phytoplankton – which also produce between 50 – 70% of breathable oxygen planetwide. Baker’s work for the past 10 years has focused upon the symbiosis between the ocean and the land, and how human practices of the past century through present day have upset the delicate balance upon which the ocean functions.
Baker’s recent recycled glass sculpture installation at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory – “Phytoplankton: Living, Breathing” – raised awareness of the invaluable role of the microscopic life upon which all life depends for the food web, as well as our breathable oxygen. From a wondrous 2009 Deer Isle night swimming experience with Phytoplankton, her work has focused upon the vital function of these microscopic giants of the ocean through installation, sculpture, video, and painting. Last summer, Baker was one of three to partake of the Monhegan Artist Residency where she was drawn to underwater filming and painting of the Monhegan water quality, and night painting the clarity of the evening skies and waters.
This summer, the artist participated in a two-week residency at the Shoals Marine Laboratory. Alongside scientists, she was snorkeling, water sampling, and observing through microscopes the Phytoplankton and Zooplankton that fuels her passion for world ocean health. Her work will also be a community educational component this winter as Artist-in-Residence for Berwick Academy. Baker’s work with Berwick Academy students will focus on raising ocean awareness – students will research endangered or threatened ocean species, beginning with those in the Gulf of Maine – then they will produce jewel-like recycled glass creatures to be installed in their community library to continue raising awareness on behalf of the ocean.
Baker is a life-long lover of water; her various works, whether paintings, sculptural installations, her art teaching practice, or any of her growing list of experimental/documentary short films all focus on concerns for water quality, availability, and water rights. Baker’s world traveling and award winning water film shorts can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/user1424457/videos