Keith Prue, Elected Artist Member of Art League RI, American and British, born 1957
Inspired by the research into Harmful Algal Blooms by Suzanna “Suzi” Clark from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, this artwork comprises images from Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park in Maine. Acadia is a source of much of the research specimens studied by Clark. HAB’s are individually harmless, but collectively dangerous. They can be viewed at the microscopic level, or en masse from 20,000 miles above planet earth. They are unpredictable, random, complex, multifaceted and mysterious. Repetitive yet diverse, beautiful but with the potential to devastate wildlife. Originally conceived with reference to Chuck Close’s mosaic imagery, the artwork is also reflective of the geometric style of Ellsworth Kelly, utilizing compilation by chance.
When first meeting Suzi Clark from the MIT – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, I felt an instant connection, sharing a love of travel and (ironic) dislike of being in water. In collaborating with Suzi, my aim was to reflect the essence of her thesis, rather than understanding the intricacies of her PhD research into Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).
HABs are curious little single-celled creatures, microscopic in nature—100,000 would fit in a glass of water—but collectively dangerous and visible afar by satellites. Some are round, some are shaped like long needles (those that Suzi researches), and some even have little “wings” that they use to swim. When they grow in high densities, millions of them can turn the water colors such as red, brown, or green. Therefore, they are sometimes called “red tides.”
HABs are unpredictable, random, complex, multifaceted and mysterious. Repetitive yet diverse, beautiful but with the potential to devastate wildlife and infiltrate the food chain, they can be triggered through nutrient runoff, ship ballast water relocating water to a different location and climate change.
Our initial discussions revolved around capturing these attributes, representing simultaneously both the micro and macro elements of a bloom, the individual and collective. Elements of Suzi’s research were considered, the frustration, dead-ends, the challenge not to be discouraged, yet countered by intrigue and fascination. How Suzi researches seasonally with three-month goals, by reading literature, exploring unanswered questions, analyzing data, collecting water in sea bottles and extracting data from computer models.
After a very iterative process involving three-dimensional concepts and mockups conceived with reference to Chuck Close’s mosaic imagery, the final piece comprises images from Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park in Maine, a location that sources much of the research specimens studied by Suzi. It portrayed the intended dimensionality, reflective of the geometric style of Ellsworth Kelly, utilizing compilation by chance, with the straight lines ebbing and curving due to a visual phenomenon known as café wall illusion.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Keith Prue often presents multiple adjacent images in a frame, for visual impact or to draw contextual comparison, and from living and working on four continents and visiting more than fifty countries, he explores and contrasts cultural nuances.
Keith is substantially self-taught, exhibiting online and showing in group exhibitions, his photographs are held in private collections in the USA and elsewhere. He is an Elected Artist Member of Art League RI, and an Exhibiting Member of the RI Center for Photographic Arts.