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Xanthoria borealis - Sole Survivor

Posted on: Sunday, December 03, 2006

I am currently working on an art piece for UNEP's 2007 World Environment Day exhibit in Oslo, Norway. The topic, not surprisingly, will be on melting ice and global warming. The June exhibit will open at The Nobel Peace Center and then travel on to The Palace of Fine Arts in Brussels later next summer.

In preparation for my project I have been researching arctic lichens, moss, and permafrost. (I was amazed to learn that permafrost covers approximately one fifth of the earth's surface). When global temperatures rise and permafrost consequently buckles and shifts, arctic bioregions not only experience mass upheaval and ice melt, but also the increased release of methane gases.

Lichens are known to be effective biomonitors or detectors of air pollutants and overall climatic change. 'Xanthoria borealis', a rather rare arctic species, is typically goldish-green in color, but I asked myself what this species might look like with the onslaught of warmer temperatures? How might its appearance take on the qualities of a sun and heat-blasted survivor?

Might 'Xanthoria borealis' survive if transplanted to another bioregion or even an urban climate? I have been creating paper, photo, and fiber models to hypothetically explore how poignant and ultimately futile this all might be.


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