AAAS Conference Presentation

In October 2014, with the encouragement of Annie Duffy, a UAF Art Department faculty member and mentor, I presented my thesis work at the Arctic Regional Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Conference.  At the time I saw it as a great opportunity to not only practice presenting my thesis, but also present my research to a different and more diverse audience.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this presentation would enable me to travel and present nationally!! I received the Larus Award which granted me full funding to attend and present at the National AAAS 2015 Conference in San Jose, CA.  What an honor!

The San Jose Convention Center, 2015.

The San Jose Convention Center, 2015.


The conference was six days of exciting lectures, symposia, presentations, and seminars on cutting edge research in the fields of physics, earth science, chemistry, math, and social sciences just to name a few.  As an artist/anthropologist attending the event, the topics and lectures were new and fascinating.  There were lectures about science and communication; how is science and scientific fact presented to the public, what is the dialogue between science and religion and how can they work together, what about science and the community, how can we get the community at large involved with and excited about "citizen science", how do we encourage young girls to become scientific leaders, and how can we integrate the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Program in school curriculums.  Other topics included cutting edge research and integration of GPS mapping to better understand, document, and map out endangered languages; isotopic analysis of remains in Anglo Saxon cemeteries to compare and contrast the written history of the time period to scientifically derived fact to paint a new and more accurate picture of the people; and state of the art visualization of classical masterworks of art, including face recognition, computational art history and conservation, and multiband imaging using infrared spectroscopy.  

I'm so grateful to the Annie, the University of Alaska, the Larus Award, and all the wonderful people I met at the conference.  It was a remarkable experience! I've learned a great deal more about art, science, and the potential collaborations that will further our knowledge of historic works of art, culture groups, and how we can participate in science every day!  I even learned a little bit about dark matter and our galaxy--now to incorporate that into my next body of work--now back to the studio!

The Liz Berry Kiln

When I moved to Fairbanks, I was fortunate enough to find a quaint little cabin, a few minutes away from the University.  It just so happened, that this cabin had a wood kiln on the property.  What I soon learned was the amazing history of this place!  My cabin used to be the studio for Liz Berry, a well known local potter, and her husband, Bill Berry who is a famous Alaskan illustrator. The kiln had been designed and built in 1977 by Fred Olsen, who came up for a two day workshop to direct the build.  Liz Berry and other local potters were the work force--you go girls (and one gentleman who was here for the last firing and is helping to direct the rebuild).  The kiln was only meant to last about fifty firings, but she's held up all the way through the 103rd! I'm honored to be a part of this piece of Fairbanks history.  The Folk School, which is just up the road from her previous home, has made room to rebuild this historic kiln on their property for many more years and firings to come!  Updates of the re-build to follow!


Local potters made work specially for this last firing of the historic kiln.  Getting them lined up and ready to go!

All loaded up--ready to brick up and mud up the door.

Towards the end of the firing we were really having to work to get reduction.  The damper had been stuck in place (later upon dismantling we found out there really was no damper at all!) but we did our best and prayed to our kiln gods!

Stoking away with our custom grates.

Cone check.  And also a way we kept track of the reduction before we got the flame out of the stack.

Some sweet pots from the 103rd firing!  We  had many visitors and helpers for the firing.  It was an amazing experience, one certainly that reminds me of why I do what I do--for the clay and community, great people and great pots!