Every Month PelotonLabs founder Liz Trice interviews a Peloton member for the West End News. This month Liz caught up with Krisanne Baker, an ecoartist and water activist whose show “No Blue, No Green” will be displayed at Peloton starting with the First Friday Art Opening in October through the end of December. On First Friday, November 2nd there will be an artist talk and reception. Live music begins at 5:30 p.m., and artist talk and reception at 6:30 p.m.
Tell me about your art.
My father was a sailing fanatic and a teacher. He had summers off, so we spent a ton of time on the water. He taught me to snorkel and to swim underwater with my eyes open. I spent a lot of time staring at the water and drawing. Mom, the scientist in the family, gave me my first college grade microscope at the age of six. This show is based on my observations, including water samples under the microscope, showing glowing phosphorescent Phytoplankton and the symbiotic systems of the Gulf of Maine.
What’s the water activist part?
It wasn’t until I got my graduate degree that I started caring about what was going on with water in the world, the contents of water, and water rights. About 10 years ago I was working on a glassblowing scholarship at Haystack. We were working in the studio one hot night and drenched with sweat we hiked down to a cove, and when we jumped in the water turned electric blue with every stroke – like Jacque Cousteau and Walt Disney all in one. I had seen little sparks of Phytoplankton as a kid, but never been immersed like this, swimming underwater and seeing everything lit up and alive – it was such a miraculous and mysterious experience for me!
I started looking into science research and seeing what these little guys (Phytoplankton) actually do. We actually get 50% or more of the world’s oxygen from these microscopic Phytoplankton. And I thought, “Oh my God, this really matters!” And as the pH of the water changes. . . it really matters. All the energy that we use – that we put up into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide – is affecting the chemical balance of the ocean, and it’s a delicate balance. We need to be much more conscious of how we treat the ocean. Our lives depend on it, because every other breath we take comes from the Phytoplankton. They are also the basis of the ocean food web, and if that collapses, humans are in huge trouble.
What research are you involved with?
A while back I was the Artist in Residence at the Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island, affiliated with University of New Hampshire and Cornell University – snorkeling every day and coming up and painting what I was seeing. I was also teaching classes in scientific illustration and bringing plankton samples back into the laboratory for identification. It was a phenomenal experience.
I also do water sampling as part of a citizen science project with the Damariscotta River Association. We were looking for toxic plankton that could cause algal blooms. I’m currently applying, waiting to hear if I’ve been accepted as artist in residence on a research ship that would go from California to Tahiti. It goes over the Mariana Trench – the deepest part of the ocean – and taking water samples the whole way.
What can regular people do to protect life in the ocean?
We’re all responsible for this, but one interesting fact I found is that by reducing your meat or cheese consumption from 1/9th – that’s one meal per week – that’s the same as the CO2 emissions from 700,000 cars. Beef production, or meat and cheese production, creates enormous amounts of methane. So, one simple thing you can do is cut back on how much meat you eat. And support Hope Spots, protected areas of the ocean, that act as the nurseries for thousands of species that need to thrive, rather than go extinct.
November 2 | 5 – 8 p.m. | First Friday live music at 5:30 p.m., Artist talk and reception at 6:30 p.m. | Peloton Labs, 795 Congress St., Portland
Anyone is welcome to come to PelotonLabs to see the art Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
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PelotonLabs is a coworking space in Bramhall Square in the West End of Portland, with a mission to connect and encourage people to improve their lives and contribute to the world around them. Visit www.pelotonlabs.com.