by Gretchen Gerrish
Thanks to COVID-19 protocols and international travel limitations, artist Alice Hargrave took an unusual route to her TLS artist-in-residence session. In fact, Alice arrived on station well after her limnology-inspired “The Conference of the Lakes” exhibit was already on display!
Alice learned about the long-running art residency program at TLS in the fall of 2019 at the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) meeting. Already in collaboration with Illinois State University Professor of Geology, Catherine O’Reilly, Alice had developed the idea of tackling an art project to share lake data stories from around the world.
Her interest in a residency was both professional and personal. She has multigenerational connections to the area and its waters and describes the lake-rich Northwoods as her “spiritual home” where she built her “first memories of being in nature.” Alice, her grandmother, and mother grew up attending Camp Osoha, an all-girls summer camp formerly located on nearby Big Muskellunge Lake. She remembers family picnics at Cathedral Point on Trout Lake.
Inspired by both this place and the science, Alice began incorporating 20 global lake stories into her work. The following three Wisconsin lake stories were featured in her exhibit entitled The Conference of the Lakes.
– Mercury concentrations in food chains of lakes tightly follows changes in lake water level. Higher lake levels correlate with more mercury in the fish we love to eat. (Watras et al. 2020)
– Salt concentrations are increasing in the four big lakes around Madison over the last 50 years and road salts are the most likely driver of this change. (Dugan et al. 2017)
– Ice off and ice duration are increasingly variable in Northern Wisconsin lakes and walleye are less successful in extremely early or late ice off years. (Feiner et al. 2022)
In January of 2023, Alice finally arrived at Trout Lake Station for her residency, where she spent two wintry weeks in Halverson Cabin. With her The Conference of the Lakes and Tracing Teal (a data and audio feature of bird calls) exhibits successfully installed and receiving visitors at the University Galleries of Illinois State University, she spent her residency visualizing a new body of work celebrating the “fairy book” look of snow-whitened forests and lakes, reflecting on how these sights are “a luxury we don’t have in Chicago anymore.”
Whatever she comes up with next, we’re just happy we could help Alice continue her work, even if it was three years later than expected!