Thursday, February 13, 2014

2014 Weekend for Wildlife, Georgia and North Atlantic Right Whales

In the late Fall of 2013 I was commissioned to create 80 pieces, (plus the above larger piece which is to be presented to the Governor of Georgia and his wife), depicting North Atlantic Right Whales.  I was commissioned by the group, 'T.E.R.N.' (The Environmental Resources Network), of Georgia.  Each year they raise funds through the 'Weekend for Wildlife'.  During this weekend of events, there is a dinner/auction.  I was asked to create the centerpieces that would be sold during the event.  The benefactor of the fundraising is the Non-game Division of the Department of Natural Resources to further conservation efforts and research for non-game animals.  This year, the North Atlantic Right Whale was the animal chosen.  I have a particular fondness of the right whale.  Years ago, I worked at Allied Whale, College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine with a wonderful right whale researcher and senior scientist Dr. Moira "Moe" Brown, who was not only the director, but a friend.  I had the pleasure of going with Moe and other research scientists out to the Bay of Fundy to meet some of these whales.  It was a fabulous trip on a gorgeous sunny day and at times the water was as calm as glass.  The whales we saw that day frequent the coast of Georgia, so to be asked to create pottery to  benefit these whales, was nothing short of an honor!  I was delighted to do so. Below are a sample of the pieces created for the event, which was held at the end of January 2014.
In the carving stage of the larger whale piece.
These are some of the 80 pieces prior to glazing and firing. 
Both plates and vases were created to become centerpieces at each table. Each piece depicts an actual identifiable right whale.  On the bottom of each piece, the name and identification number is engraved.  With this information you can go to the New England Aquarium's website  North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog  and research each whale.  Information found at the site includes photograph's, schematic and the sighting history, as well as, year of birth and date of death, if the information is known.
In some cases, the whale is depicted as entangled in fishing gear or with ship strike scarring and other defects as you would see it in the wild.  I owe much to Wildlife biologist, Clay George, of the DNR Georgia who supplied photographs and information regarding each whale to help me tell the individual whale's story.  To show these whales entangled in gear is a tough story, but a very necessary one to tell.  I'm sure the attendee's of the event went away with a much better understanding of the North Atlantic Right Whale and the struggles they face, as well as the research and conservation efforts being taken by dedicated individual's like Clay and Moe.   

The event was well received and all the pieces sold out.  Below are photograph's taken at the event.

And this is Brooks Schoen from T.E.R.N.  who contacted me last Fall to work on this project.  I can't thank him enough for all his hard work, coordination and constantly being available to answer my questions!  Wanda, Clay and all the folks who were involved also deserve my thanks and gratitude for making such a challenging project run smoothly from start to finish.  We didn't have much time, but with everyone working so well together and without delay, we did it!! 

This is an example of the placards which were made up for the event...they have the photograph and history of each whale to go with the pottery pieces.  Great job Wanda!

Now that the event has come and gone, it is kind of bitter-sweet as I move on to other projects.  I haven't moved too far, I'm still making whale pots, vases, plates, mugs, bowls and yes, another sculptural piece of North Atlantic Right Whales!!

So far 2014 has been a great year, full of exciting adventures and opportunities.   In my next blog, I will share with you some news.  Until then, take care and stay warm!