Nancy D. Hausle-Johnson
Moving North was inspired by my knowledge of changes taking place in Alaskan boreal forests, by lectures I heard during my time with ITOC, and by personal travels in Alaska several years ago. I saw terrible forest devastation in southern Alaska caused by the spruce bark beetle. Extensive stands of spruce trees along the Copper River near Chitina and around Turnagain Arm near Anchorage were reddish grey, after having been killed by spruce beetle predation. More dead and dying trees were apparent as I traveled north on the Parks Highway. Currently, Cantwell, just south of Denali National Park, is the northern extent of the beetle infestation. As the climate in Alaska warms, the beetles are moving north, bringing death to spruce forests along the way. Climate warming north of Cantwell has not yet created favorable conditions for further beetle expansion, but that is changing with continued warming conditions.
This is particularly poignant because a very close friend who lives south of Cantwell has for years been surrounded by a beautiful boreal forest. She has begun to clear-cut all the spruce trees on her property because of beetle kill and plans to continue, leaving no large living trees of any kind around her home. It is heartbreaking.
Moving North depicts a spruce forest in winter; normal trees are shown with beautiful green branches covered with white patches of snow. A few trees are a warm bronze color, complementing the rich green trees. A knowledgeable viewer, however, knows that these trees have been killed by bark beetle infestation, and the viewer may feel dread about what that infestation means for the near future.
Nancy D. Hausle-Johnson
Nancy D. Hausle-Johnson grew up in Seattle, Washington, and fell in love with outdoor activities including hiking, climbing, skiing, and outdoor education. Her experience as a fire lookout reinforced appreciation of wild spaces. Since moving to Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1980, she has applied her art in schools, businesses, and public spaces, designing and creating paintings and silkscreen prints, clay structures, and tile murals. Since 1985, she has designed art tiles and murals for art shows, public and private commissions and 1% for art commissions, hospitals, libraries, schools, and sports areas, using images inspired by birds, animals, flowers, and Alaskan landscapes.