Inspired by Place

Alaska artist Kristin Link lives on the edge of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. PHOTO: Mollie Messick

Kristin Link is a visual artist based in McCarthy, Alaska, who works in natural history and science art. She creates interpretive signs and educational material about nature. She has a background in Environmental Studies and graduated from California State University Monterey Bay in Science Illustrations.

How does science and art go together?
“I really love doing both and my work as an artist and an illustrator informs the other,” Link said. “I really enjoy doing illustration work where I can help people visualize something that’s important to communicate, such as how an ecosystem works or how people experience a place.”

She has been making art her whole life. She grew up in Belgium and England, studied in California and has found a home in McCarthy. She remembers her time growing up in Belgium. “It was often very rainy and my mother set up an art-table for me and my siblings.”

In addition to that her grandmother, a watercolour-painter, taught her how to draw and paint. She didn’t plan to become a professional artist, but it is something she enjoyed most and made it part of her career, the 31-year-old said.

Link teaches science illustration in different schools and helps pupils get a better understanding of nature.

“My practice as an artist is a combination of teaching, science illustration, and my own personal work,” she said. Her personal work includes creating travel-journals and maps.

Link just came back from a trip to Southeast Asia and is working on a travel sketchbook at the moment.

“I’m combining the sketches I did while I was there, with some drawings that I am doing from photographs, to create a little publication. I’m hoping to do something similar on the Chilkoot Trail,” she said. She will also write a blog on her website about the trip. When she goes back to her studio in fall, she will have photos, sketches and memories to work from.

“I plan to create a series of larger studio works to show alongside my sketches, but I don’t know what they will be yet.”

“I’m also very curious about how it feels to hike a historic trail that people have been using for so many years. I like to find stories about how the landscape influences people and vice-versa, so I’m excited to see what I find on the Chilkoot Trail.”

Link is inspired by place, and living on the edge of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is a huge influence. A lot of her work is inspired by the glaciers, mountains, rivers and forest outside her back door.

“I know that not everyone gets to experience the feeling of being surrounded by wilderness, so that is something that I try to share.”

The Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency Program is now in its eighth year. The Yukon Arts Centre, Parks Canada, the United States’ National Park Service and Skagway Arts Council recently announced the three participants for this year: Josh Winkler, from Minnesota, will hike the trail at the end of June; Kristin Link from Alaska will hike the trail mid-July; and Hilary Lorenz from New York will be hiking the trail at the end of July. This series will introduce each artist with a profile.

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