The Oregon Coast Council for the Arts presents the exhibition, “Whale Song: A Giant Voice in a Sea of Sound,” an installation of prints and audio recordings by Kris Elkin, in the Upstairs Gallery at the Newport Visual Arts Center from May 5 to July 1. Kris Elkin is a print-maker and graphic designer living in Central Oregon. A First Friday opening reception will be held on May 5, 5-7pm, with an artist talk scheduled for 6:30 pm during the opening.
“Whale Song” will include Kris Elkin’s large-scale monoprints and drypoints printed on Japanese “Unryu” paper, meaning “Cloud Dragon Paper.” The prints, focusing on humpback whales, are created using Akua and Charbonnel inks, and are embellished with metal leaf, metallic inks and thread. The exhibit will also include audio recordings of songs of humpback whales and human-created noise undersea.
“As a visual artist and graphic designer living in a world of myriad forms of language, sound and noise, I wonder about the beauty and complexity of communication,” says Elkin. “Nature vibrates with sound, much of it undecipherable to humans. As an artist, I ask questions: Do we listen to the world around us? How do we communicate and who has a voice? Who speaks for those who cannot speak?”
For millions of years, whales have communicated uninterrupted across vast oceans; songs that are shared between whales have evolved over time and space. And while whales have always competed with other natural undersea sounds—from fish, invertebrates, waves, wind, thunderstorms and undersea earthquakes—the sounds of the undersea are becoming increasingly noisy. According to Elkin’s research, sound generated through shipping alone has doubled every two decades since the 1960s. Other new ocean sounds are generated by boat engines, seismic air guns, submarines, sonar signaling, and seabed drilling and blasting.
“The acoustic space through which whales navigate, communicate and find food in the dark world of the sea is being assaulted with a smoggy roar of noise, contributing to hearing damage and strandings,” says Kris Elkin.
Kris Elkin received her BFA in Fine Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She also holds associate degrees in science and industrial illustration from Portland Community College and St. Louis Community College. An earlier version of Elkin’s “Whale Song” was exhibited in April 2016 at the Piacentini Gallery in Bend, Oregon. Elkin’s prints and drawings have also been featured in solo and group shows at A6 Gallery, the Arts Central Mirror Pond Gallery, the Tumalo Art Collective and the Atrium at Franklins Crossing, all located in Bend and Central Oregon. Elkins’ professional graphic design clients have included the Central Oregon Community College, Portland State University, Clark College, the High Desert Museum, and Community Newspapers, Inc.
The Upstairs Gallery is open noon-4pm, Tuesday-Saturday.