Claire Iris Schencke's ambitious exhibit, The Glacier Art Project and At Waters' Edge, is the culmination of a six-year project sketching glaciers on location from Alaska to Argentina's Tierra Del Fuego.
Helsinki-born, Iris (pronounced "EER-riss") admits to having always been attracted to water and ice. "I fell in love with glaciers the first time I saw the explosive spectacle of calving glaciers in Alaska in 1995," she recalled. On subsequent trips to visit family members abroad in 2005 (her son in Chile) and 2006 (a sister vacationing in Iceland), Iris expressed her fascination with glaciers in sketch after sketch as she viewed these great natural phenomena. One of my favorite pieces in the show is of Eyjafjallajokull, the once-obscure glacier with the unpronounceable name whose volcano erupted in 2010.
The Piante Gallery show includes 34 oil monotypes created from Iris' original sketches and a photo journal. Iris brought her passion for these remote landscapes to her prints that celebrate their beauty working at StewArt Studios in Arcata where the Ink People's etching press now resides under the guidance of print master Patricia Sennott.
It's fascinating to observe how artists call upon their backgrounds and skills to bring forward themes using new visual clues. Iris has been a lifelong practitioner of drawing from the live model and in many of these prints anthropomorphic figures emerge as though calving into our presence.
It's not overt in the work, but Iris also sees a relevance to our current global concerns. "As these majestic rivers of ice melt, we face the prospect of a world without them -- and their fate will affect us all."
The other focus of the exhibit, At Waters Edge, takes over the center room of Piante. "I thought after all the iciness, I would do something closer to home inspired by my favorite shorescapes in Humboldt County," Iris said. "We are so fortunate here."
Meet the artist during Arts Alive! at the public reception for the show, Aug. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Piante Gallery, 620 Second St., Eureka.