March 24, 1989 the Exxon Valdeez Oil Tanker spilled 10.8 Million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound, Alaska. In the months that followed I reached out to AK State Agencies to help with the cleanup in the aftermath of the oil spill. In July I volunteered at the Sea Otter Rescue Center in Seward, Alaska. Where I fed and monitored at-risk sea otters in the their pods. During that time fishermen delivering the seafood would describe Exxon officials telling them to pass beaches with distressed animals. So I started attending the public meetings in Seward with federal and state agencies discussing cleanup efforts with the community. My activism began when I questioned collusion between the Coast Guard and Exxon in the Oil Spill Cleanup, sea otter rescue and rehabilitation.
When I returned back to my home and studio, I researched the Prince William Sound species at risk and created a body of work resulting in:
- An opinion-editorial published in the St. Louis Dispatch (full article here)
- An environmental art installation that traveled, "Exxon Valdeez, Environmental Impact Installation"
- An art review describing the Environmental Impact Installation, published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch
- Coverage by the Chicago Tribune
- Public Speaking and Advocacy work to support oil tanker double-hull legislation in Congress.
- A highly documented protest banner (below)
art + advocacy
My volunteer work at the Sea Otter Rescue Center, in Seward, Alaska inspired the “Exxon Valdez Environmental Impact Installation,” which was displayed at three different locations. The public art project described the species at risk following the oil spill in Prince William Sound, and the installation's maps depicted the history of large and small oil spills in our waters.
At every installation location, a table outside of the gallery displayed legislative information, a copy of the constitution, stationary and stamps to encourage visitors to write letters to their congressional representatives supporting the double hull legislation for oil tankers in 1989/90.
In 1991-1992, I worked with Sierra club staff on Capitol Hill to defeat the Energy Legislation targeting the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.