Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lichens at Rozel Point


Last spring on one of my many trips out to Rozel Point in Great Salt Lake, I climbed up to the top of Rozel Hill with my family. They, of course, got way ahead of me because I was too busy taking pictures of lichen on rocks. I am always in wonderment and admiration of Lichen. Not only can they live everywhere (even on the harsh salty shores of Great Salt Lake), but they thrive with beautiful colors that range from orange to blue to purple.

Lichen really do live everywhere. They are hearty little fungi/algae/bacteria that thrive in the harshest environment. The partnership between the fungi and the algae or cyanobacteria within the lichen allows it to survive with little water and extreme heat or cold.

So, an ordinary and ubiquitous rock found on the shore of Great Salt Lake can hold the most interesting and beautifully colored organism…which I then took a picture of and proceeded to design a project bag for me.


This is a silly little project but I like its quirkiness. My husband thinks it looks like a psychedelic giraffe but it reminds me of that one ordinary day at the Lake on an ordinary hike seeing an ordinary rock with ordinary lichen. But that lichen was not really ordinary, it was hiding a life of extraordinary survival and beauty.






Friday, October 24, 2014

The Story of Two Sculptures

Well, I did it. I knitted two sculptures. I am still unsure about this new experiment of mine of knitting a sculpture but I submitted them anyway to an exhibition. I truly enjoyed the process, both the creative planning, thinking, dreaming, and the knitting. The first sculpture is the one I talked about on my previous post. I called it Cross Section: Great Salt Lake. Here is the finished piece with some information (or label for you museum geeks out there).


Virginia Catherall
Cross Section: Great Salt Lake, 2014
Silk/stainless steel yarn
Hand-knit

Great Salt Lake’s shoreline is receding with the season becoming salty and white. The north arm of the lake is super saturated with salt where halorarchaea bacteria flourish. On the northern shores, the white is tinged with pink from the colorful bacteria. The north side became more salty when the Lucin Cutoff railroad causeway was built across the lake in the 1950s creating two distinct environments. The Great Salt Lake ecosystem is knitted together with its geography; change one thing, change everything.

The second sculpture came about after one of my trips to the shore of the lake. I am always intrigued by what I find in the salt bed of the evaporating lake. I have been collecting odds and ends for years. The salty lakebed is like a knitted fabric, knitting in the ecosystem and other flotsam with salt crystals instead of yarn. So, I created a small piece of the dry lake bed with bits that I collected from the lake shore over the years. I called it Dry Lake Bed: Great Salt Lake


Virginia Catherall
Dry Lake Bed: Great Salt Lake, 2014
Silk/stainless steel yarn, bamboo/copper yarn, glass, bone, salt, flora, fauna
Hand-knit

Great Salt Lake is a terminal lake, the only way water leaves it is by evaporation, And because it is such a shallow lake–an average of 14 feet–about 2.6 billion gallons evaporate from the lake every day. Evaporation leaves minerals and salts behind making the lake one of the saltiest in the world. The salinity ranges from 5 to 27% (the world’s oceans average 3.5%). The rapidly evaporating shoreline traps animals, plants, bacteria, and objects in the salty crust; knitting the remains of an ecosystem within its crystals.

Both of these are knit with silk/stainless steel yarn so they are slightly moldable. This helps with making them more three-dimensional. But the yarn memory is a little hard to fight against. I will find out in a week or so if either piece was accepted. They aren’t the traditional sculptures that come to mind, but you never know.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Knitting a sculpture of Great Salt Lake overlooking Great Salt Lake


I am attempting to knit a sculpture. It is an experiment and might not work out but I want to submit something to the Utah Arts and Museum Painting and Sculpture exhibition and some of my pieces are just too “crafty” (read functional) to be submitted.

I, of course, am still interested in Great Salt Lake and lately I have been ruminating on its changing nature. Every time I go out there, the lake seems to be shrinking. It is almost at historic lows right now so the outline of the lake is very different than in past years. It became very clear when my husband and I took a trip on Skyline drive last weekend in the mountains above Bountiful, Utah. The view of the lake is spectacular but the low levels are very apparent.


The lake’s shoreline becomes more and more salty and white from the evaporating water. On the northern shores, the white becomes tinged with pink from the halorarchaea. The north arm of the lake is super saturated with salt and the bacteria flourish so the water is noticeably pink. So much so that you can see the difference from Google Earth! The north side became more salty when the Lucin Cutoff railroad causeway was built across the lake in the 1950s creating two distinct environments in the lake. Several reasons are given for this difference and you can read about them here if you are interested…or are a layperson Eco-geek like me.


All this crazy chaos of the lake has captured my attention. I am trying to knit a cross section of the lake showing the growing salty shores, the blue south arm, the pink north arm, and the pink-tinged salt. I am knitting it with steel and silk yarn that can be sculpted and molded when I am done. You can see me knitting the sculpture while overlooking the lake above. Like I said, this is an experiment. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.