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GALAPAGOS - Forty Days and Forty Nights- An Artists Sojourn

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Forty Days and Forty Nights - An Artists Sojourn

Quick Facts

Artist: 
Kelly Dodge
Purpose: 
To study through sketching, notes, photography and collaboration with local scientific experts, the endemic and endangered flora and fauna of thirteen islands in the Galapagos archipelago.
Time/Location: 
2009, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Departure Date: 
8 years 20 weeks ago

In late September, 2009, Kelly Dodge travelled to the Galapagos as recipient of the AFC’s tenth Flag Expedition fellowship, to spend forty days studying, sketching and photographing the unique animals and plants of the Islands. 

The purpose of her expedition was to study through sketching, notes, photography and collaboration with local scientific experts, the endemic and endangered flora and fauna of the Galapagos archipelago. During her expedition, Kelly successfully explored ten of the thirteen islands in the archipelago, ranging from open sea and rock islets to the six distinct vegetation zones – each supporting specific communities of plants and animals.

Her objectives included partnering with local NGOs to support the preservation, restoration and enhancement of the Galapagos ecosystem with a goal of creating a major body of artwork featuring the diversity of endangered species living on the islands. Through her artwork, she placed a strong emphasis on environmental education, while highlighting the conservation challenges each species faces. Her studies, while in the field, encompassed endemic and resident birds, mammals and reptiles of the eight zones of the Galapagos archipelago. 

“My goal is to observe, learn about and document as many of the endemic and resident wildlife species as possible as they relate specifically to the habitat zones that support and sustain them, and as they relate to each other both physiologically and behaviorally. No species exists on its own. We all exist as members of intimately related communities. The Galapagos is a unique community of species sharing the same unique environment in a social relationship so intimate that symbiosis between species is commonly observed.”

At the time of writing, Kelly has already created a significant body of studio artwork inspired from her expedition, and is preparing for a major solo show focused entirely on the Galapagos. Both the expedition and her show were intended to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and 150th anniversary of the publishing of the “On the Origin of Species”. In the years ahead, Kelly will be sharing her personal experience with the world in the hope of demonstrating the need for preservation and conservation of this area.

Kelly Dodge's Exclusive AFC Galapagos Flag Expedition Journal

On November 20, 2010 - Kelly Dodge's Exclusive AFC Galapagos Flag Expedition Journal has been reproduced as a limited edition coffee table book and is now available for viewing and purchase. Contact info@natureartists.com for information.

 

Flag Journal

The objectives of Kelly's expedition were as follows:

  • To partner in the preservation, restoration and enhancement of a globally imperilled ecosystem by inviting viewers into the world of Galapagos through the window of my art while instilling a global awareness of the challenges that Galapagos faces and that we ultimately all face.
  • To explore 10 of the 13 islands in the archipelago ranging from open sea and rock islets to the 6 distinct vegetation zones each supporting specific communities of plants and animals while observing, learning about and artistically documenting as many of the endemic and resident wildlife species as possible as they relate specifically to the habitat zones that sustain them and as they relate to each other both physiologically and behaviourally.
  • To contribute to conservation projects involving habitat restoration, ecological and human dynamic issues while learning as much as possible about the zones and the challenges they face facilitating my artistic field research for the duration of my expedition.Working with and under the supervision of biologists and environmental education instructors at the Jatun Sacha Foundation be directly involved in all aspects of daily life at the San Cristobal Biological Reserve.
  • To promote the Artists for Conservation Foundation, conservation in the Galapagos and the natural world, and my art by marketing reproductions through local venues in Peurto Ayora, Santa Cruz exposing 120,000 tourists to the “nature art genre as new prospective collectors in audiences outside the conventional nature/wildlife art collecting circles” raising public awareness and directly benefiting the local economy with a portion of the proceeds going to the Jatun Sacha Foundation to fund conservation initiatives and to project Metamorfosis to fund art education initiatives for the youth of Galapagos.
  • To create a body of work with accompanying text that has a strong emphasis on environmental education while highlighting the conservation challenges each species depicted faces according to their IUCN red-list status. To acheive this, Kelly will work from flag journal studies, field notes and photographic/video reference.
  • To enrich youths in Galapagos with greater knowledge of their homeland and of the world and to continue to provide the same enrichment for inhabitants of own country and abroad. Privileged access and collaborative networking with Jatun Sacha and Metamorfosis will develop the artistic concepts and skills of the youth of Galapagos while familiarizing people of all ages with the sensitive ecology of the islands and the world, enhancing their own creativity and empowering them to stewardship.

About the Galapagos

The islands are unique for many reasons including the isolated and diverse habitats, endangered species, and the sensitivity of the environment. The tropical sun, combined with the cool Humboldt and Cromwell currents, create a unique mix of tropical and temperate zones that in turn support a uniquely diverse ecology made up of a plethora of species that exist nowhere else on the planet. This convergence of currents results in a spectacular range of marine life which supports an array of seabirds, mammals and reptiles.

During his world voyage aboard the H.M.S Beagle in 1831-1836, Charles Darwin visited the islands. During his stay, Darwin was inspired by what he saw, and began work on his revolutionary book about evolution and natural selection. “The Origin of Species” was published in 1859, and was both controversial and popular. Darwin was a religious man himself and had even considered a career in the church. Nonetheless his theory of evolution attacked by those who viewed it contrary to interpretations of the Bible. Today Darwin’s theories are nearly universally embraced by the scientific community, and have been heavily expanded upon. 

Human activities since the 17th and 18th centuries have resulted in substantial alterations in Galapagos ecosystems. Nearly 60% of the 168 endemic plant species are close to extinction, threatened by goats and other introduced herbivores, competition from introduced plants and the destruction of their natural habitat. For example, one species of Opuntia Cactus found only on one island (Isabella) is critically endangered. These cacti are a vital food and nesting source for a variety of vulnerable and endangered wildlife.

Access to all the islands is strictly regulated. Although tourists visit the islands, there are restricted areas that few people will ever get the opportunity to experience firsthand. This expedition allowed Kelly the opportunity to study, document and catalogue various endangered species of plants and animals and to share these through her finished studio pastel paintings. Kelly will be continuing to share her personal experience with the world in the hope of demonstrating the need for preservation and conservation of this area.

Galapagos is unique for many reasons including the isolated and diverse habitats, endangered species and due to the sensitivity of the environment is a strictly regulated and restricted area that few people will ever get the opportunity to experience first hand.

A disturbingly high number of the flora and fauna are IUCN red-listed as endangered and vulnerable. Following are some key facts about the Galapagos

  • Recognized as a world heritage site by the member states of UNESCO
  • One of the worlds most significant natural areas
  • 2007 added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage in Danger.
  • Archipelago of 13 large islands, 6 smaller islands and over 40 islets of the most active oceanic volcanic region in the world embodying high levels of endemism representing the best conserved of the worlds tropical archipelagos.
  • Isolated from other land masses, straddling the equator with the nearest land, mainland Ecuador 960 km to the east.
  • The tropical sun combined with the cool waters of the Humboldt and Cromwell currents creates a unique mix of tropical and temperate zones which plays a key role in giving the islands a biota found nowhere else in the world. This convergence of currents results in a spectacular range of marine life which supports an array of seabirds, mammals and reptiles.
  • Human activities since the 17th and 18th centuries and currently have resulted in substantial alterations in ecosystems with nearly 60% of the 168 endemic plant species close to extinction, threatened by goats and other introduced herbivores, competition from introduced plants and the destruction of their natural habitat. For example one species of Opuntia Cactus found only on Isabella is critically endangered. These cactus are a vital food and nesting source for a variety of vulnerable and endangered wildlife.
  • Scores of vulnerable, threatened and endangered species currently on the IUCN red-list.
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