The Grapevine

How An Artist From North Yarmouth Educates People About Wildlife Through Art

Ever since man first started drawing on the walls of caves billions of years ago, art has been a powerful tool, able to convey different emotions, scenes and truths, all within the confines of a single piece. For an artist, the art they make is a reflection of who they are, the environment they live in and the type of political atmosphere that environment currently experiences. At times, it can also be a time capsule, depicting what went on in times long past.

And now, this sort of “power” is what wildlife artist Michael Boardman is using to help save animals from the various threats they are currently facing as a result of unchecked human activity. For 25 years, Boardman has illustrated wild creatures such as seabirds, trouts and mountain goats. However, the last decade has seen him shift his focus from merely sketching the wildlife before him to helping educate people about them while also informing them of the dangers these animals are facing.

Usually, Boardman works alongside biologists since he is an artist in residence at many wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Maine, as well as around the country. However, back in June this year, he was selected by the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to spend 10 days sketching in a remote camp. From there, Boardman braved the cold, unforgiving weather to produce wildlife images that will be used to help educate the public about migration patterns of birds in the area. This action is prompted by the Trump administration, apparently planning on drilling for oil in the area, which can harm the animals living there.

“It’s 14 million acres at the top of the tundra by the Arctic Sea. There are polar bears on the sea ice and tons of birds, some that fly through Maine on the way to South America. The mountains there open up to the tundra where the caribou breed. It’s so terrible to destroy this place in any way, shape or form,” Boardman said.

At the moment, Boardman continues to use his art to educate the public about wildlife threats, and will be teaching a class next at Wells about his experience of sketching in the Arctic.

painting-911804_640 What can paint brushstrokes say about your brain? Photo courtesy of Pixabay