Arctic Circle residency inspires art installation

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Rachel Moser of Kentucky, daughter of Guttenberg natives Judy and Dana Moser, spent two months onboard "Antigua," (above) a research vessel as part of an art and science residency. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Rachel Moser of Kentucky, daughter of Judy and Dana Moser who grew up in Guttenberg, and granddaughter of Deloes "Pockey" Weseman of Guttenberg, and the late Katherine Weseman, and Ivan and Geraldine Moser, spent two months in the Arctic onboard Antigua, a research vessel, as part of an art and science residency called the Arctic Circle Residency in September and October of 2019.  

Following her residency, Rachel, who is a Digital Media and Graphic Design Professor at Eastern Kentucky University, was inspired to create an art installation titled, Where It Used to Be Blue.

Her exhibit was on display in the Wartburg College Waldemar A. Schmidt Art Gallery this past November, and is set to show at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, and Art Fields in Florence, South Carolina. 

Where It Used to Be Blue is an ongoing study of climate change and human impact on the planet.

"I witnessed the beautiful blue glaciers of the Arctic turning to rubble and soot. Where it used to be blue is now covered in dirt and rocks, composing moraines that range in size from powdery silt to large rocks and boulders," Moser wrote in her artistic statement. "As the glaciers recede, remote Arctic islands are being polluted with plastic, most of which originates from the fishing industry." 

Moser saw fishing nets, lines, and buoys, along with other plastic materials like bottles and caps. "I found that the shorelines of the Svalbard archipelago and of Jan Mayen island were littered with more plastic waste in comparison to North American, or European beaches, despite the tiny local populations," she noted. "Currents, streams, waves, and wind carry marine litter across the oceans northwards on the Gulf Stream. Plastic debris is found on Arctic beaches, in sea ice, sediments, and even in the bodies of Arctic birds, mammals, and fish."

The debris is making a negative impact on the local environment. "Many of the local guides make a point to go pick up the plastic to try and combat the constant flow of trash washing up on the beach," she commented. 

Moser pointed out that human civilization and the natural landscape are intrinsically linked.  "Humans are responsible for climate change largely due to our greenhouse gas emissions which are on the rise since the start of the Industrial Revolution," she told The Press. "Greenhouse gases trap heat from the sun as it passes through Earth’s atmosphere. There are some natural greenhouse gases, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO2). But over time, humans have added more to the atmosphere, creating a massive heat trap."

10 ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Listed below are 10 simple ways everyone can reduce their carbon footprint. 

• Change a light - replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year

• Drive less - walk, bike, and carpool or utilize community transit more often, which saves one pound of carbon dioxide for every mile you don't drive

• Recycle more - recycling can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by recycling just half of your household waste.

• Check your tires - keeping your tires inflated properly can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent. Every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

• Use less hot water - taking shorter and cooler showers and washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water saves more than 500 pounds of carbon dioxide per year

• Avoid products with a lot of packaging - reducing your garbage by 10 percent can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide.

• Adjust your thermostat - lowering your thermostat just 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer can save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

• Plant a tree - a single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

• Turn off electronic devices - turning off electronic devices when you are not using them saves thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

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