Jennifer Steen Booher

Interviews

Over on the Coast Walk I’ve been interviewing all kinds of interesting people here on Mount Desert Island. Porcia Manandhar told us about studying gull chicks,

Photo courtesy of Porcia Manandhar

Tim Garrity, director of the MDI Historical Society, talked about how our perception of history changes over generations, Earl Brechlin told stories from his thirty years as editor of the local paper, Rodney Eason, CEO of the Land & Garden Preserve, showed us historic photos of Thuya Landing’s construction, and Douglas McMullin, stewardship manager for Maine Coast Heritage Trust, walked us around the Babson Creek Preserve.

 

 

 

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Coast Walk update

Coast Walk, Razor Clam (Ensis directus), lobster trap rope, Horse Mussel (Modiolus modiolus), Common Slipper Shell (Crepidula fornicata), pink granite beach stone, Rock Crab (Cancer irroratus), driftwood, Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea), Waved Whelk (Buccinum undatum), Quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria), crab claw, aluminum can top, Moon Snail (Lunatia heros), beach stone

Coast Walk 17: Bracy Cove to Roberts Point, May 17, 2017

From top to bottom, left to right:

Row 1: Razor Clam (Ensis directus), lobster trap rope, Horse Mussel (Modiolus modiolus), Common Slipper Shell (Crepidula fornicata)

Row 2: pink granite beach stone, Rock Crab (Cancer irroratus), driftwood, Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea)

Row 3: Waved Whelk (Buccinum undatum), Quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria), severely worn shell (probably Quahog) crab claw, aluminum can top, Moon Snail (Lunatia heros), beach stone

 

The latest news from the Coast Walk is here: http://jenniferbooher.com/wp-walking/coast-walk-17-still-life-may-17/

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New seaweed photos

 (Jennifer Steen Booher)

Palmaria palmata (Dulse)

I’m finding seaweed identification a pretty tricky business. Each species has so many possible variations. For example, I’m pretty sure the first and last photos in this post are Palmaria palmata, but look how different the fronds are in the two specimens. The air bladders in the second Sugar Kelp photo were also really confusing. I haven’t found any references that describe that phenomenon. Also, some people online are telling me that Sugar Kelp is Laminaria saccharina, but all my references point toward Saccharina latissima. Man, I wish there were a seaweed-botany class I could take! Learning from Google and reference books just isn’t the same as talking to someone who really knows their stuff. I don’t like being self-taught – no confidence in the teacher.

 (Jennifer Steen Booher)

Saccharina latissima (Sugar Kelp)

 (Jennifer Steen Booher)

Ulva lactuca (Sea Lettuce)

 (Jennifer Steen Booher)

Saccharina latissima (Sugar Kelp)

 (Jennifer Steen Booher)

Palmaria palmata (Dulse)

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Healthcare series

 (Jennifer Steen Booher) healthcare, obamacare, health insurance, long term illness, chronic illness, medicine, medical, medication, mandala, snowflake, sunburst

Jennifer: Lidocaine 40mL (Healthcare series No.1)

 

For five years I suffered from a mysterious, wracking cough that left me bedridden for two months every winter and incapacitated for several more. After years of misdiagnosis as asthma, I was aggressively treated for severe acid reflux and allergic rhinitis (by aggressively, I mean surgery, medication, strict diet, and 2 years-and-counting of allergy shots), and have been cough-free for two winters. During the years when various doctors were treating me for asthma, one of their more desperate attempts to get me some relief from the coughing spasms was nebulized Lidocaine. I can’t tell if it helped. It certainly didn’t cure the cough. I saved the bottles, knowing someday I’d find a way to use them. The first photo began as both a celebration of my own healing, and an expression of frustration with how long it took to get treatment. The series got a little darker with the second photo.

 (Jennifer Steen Booher)

P.D.: Insulin, 960 Units (Healthcare series No.2)

 

Back in February, when it looked like the Affordable Care Act would be repealed with no replacement and a group of us were talking about ways to communicate with our members of Congress, one of my friends pulled out an enormous bag of her diabetic daughter’s syringes (only about two days worth!), and said she was tempted to go to Washington and dump it out on our senator’s desk. I borrowed it first, and the series became a meditation on the expense and difficulty and physical pain of managing chronic illness.

B: Metformin 18,000mg, Atorvastatin 960mg, Glimepiride 38mg, Lisinopril 150 mg, 6 used lancets, 12 sterile lancets (Jennifer Steen Booher)

B.K.: Metformin, Atorvastatin, Glimepiride, Lisinopril, 6 used lancets, 12 sterile lancets (Healthcare series No.3)

With the third photo, I ran into a ideological roadblock, and I’m not sure how to resolve it. Those are the medications of one person managing several health conditions, and while they were willing to let me borrow their meds, they did not want their name associated with the photo. Neither did my friend’s daughter. I understand, of course. It’s a small community and they don’t want their health issues to define them or to become a topic of conversation. But to me, a large part of the impact of each photo is knowing they represent the struggles of a particular person, and having a name on the photo really brings that home. It pulls the photo out of the sterile medical context and shows the human consequences – these are real people who could die without their medications, and who will be taking these medications for the rest of their lives. I’m not sure how to communicate that now. I thought about using fake names, but that seems … fake. A friend suggested describing the people: ‘Male, aged 36′ or something along those lines, but that’s dehumanizing, clinical language. Obviously my friends’ privacy trumps my artistic intent, so I settled for using initials, but to me, that pulls the punch. A name makes things personal and without it, these are just pretty patterns made of pills and syringes. Any volunteers?

Anyway, that’s as far as the series has gotten to date. Maybe I’ll do one of my own meds just to keep it moving, although I’d rather it weren’t all about me …

 

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More seaweed

Ascophyllum nodosum (Rockweed or Knotted Wrack)

You can see why this is my favorite seaweed.

Fucus distichus

Fucus spiralis

Porphyra umbilicalis

I’m going to call this one ‘Goldilocks’ because it’s attached itself to that poor little periwinkle. Imagine going through life with a headdress like that!

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Obsessing over seaweed

Set on a white background, seaweed looks so calligraphic. Rockweed in particular seems like an alphabet I can’t quite read. The longer the strands, the more they remind me of Arabic calligraphy. I need a bigger light box!

Ascophyllum nodosum/Rockweed

Fucus distichus

Ascophyllum nodosum/Rockweed

Ascophyllum nodosum/Rockweed

Fucus vesiculosus/Bladderwrack

Ascophyllum nodosum/Rockweed

Fucus vesiculosus/Bladderwrack

In other news, back in January I received a Kindling Fund grant for the Coast Walk. The Kindling Fund is one of eleven nationwide re-granting programs established by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. I feel like a rock star: many, many thanks to SPACE Gallery, the administrators of the fund! You can learn more about the Kindling Fund and the other 2017 grant recipients here: http://kindlingfund.org/announcing-2017-kindling-fund-grantees/

Since I haven’t updated this blog in ages, there are lots of new posts in the Coast Walk project, including several still lifes:

I’ll leave you with my favorite tagline, from Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac: “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”

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