I live surrounded by thousands of acres of boreal forest where an outbreak of spruce bark beetle has left a broken, tinder dry landscape. For 5 years we have experienced warming temperatures, allowing the beetle population to increase dramatically. You can hear the larvae chewing below the bark.
Through nature journaling I have spent three years documenting the path of change, a narrative of transition, from rough bark punctured with entrance holes weeping pitch and dust, to intricate larval galleries embedded in the cambium, damaging life-sustaining phloem.
I tear into galleries, extracting beetles and larvae. I photograph, sketch and video shape and movement, in situ and studio, and follow tracks, marks left by beetles in passing.
I chose an origami accordion book structure to represent a sense of movement. These origami papers are digital prints of larvae galleries, their variation in color representing decomposition and fungal staining of bark. Ink and watercolor drawings of beetles are from active specimens found moving within trees.
Mary Bee Kaufman
Mary Bee Kaufman documents the natural world of Alaska through photography, painting, and handmade books. She creates art on location, developing intimate relationships with the landscape. Field studies become a part of three dimensional works. For over 36 years, she has lived in the boreal forest as a naturalist guide and art instructor. Her work is in public and private collections, including the Pratt Museum in Homer and the Alaska State Museum.