The Chilkoot Trail allows for exploration of more than the wilderness

Hannah Perrine Mode’s pieces “Scattered Light, Low Clouds” and “Now We Can Hold Time,” are tied closely to the landscapes where they were created: the northern California coast, Joshua Tree, Lake Tahoe, Desolation Wilderness, Walden Pond, Oakland, Antarctica and the Mendenhall Glacier, respectively

Hannah Perrine Mode’s art practice exists at the confluence of visual art, community storytelling and climate science. She will be bringing this unique perspective to the Chilkoot Trail artist residency from July 3 to July 16. The Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency is a creative journey through Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park in Alaska and Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site in British Columbia. Each artist hikes the trail over a two-week period, allowing enough time to work and savour the experience. The artists offer workshops at campgrounds and interact with hikers in creative ways. This is followed by post-hike artist talks in Skagway and Whitehorse. Mode will be one of three artists taking part in the residency program this year.

“I jump at any chance to combine my love of wilderness, backpacking and art-making, and this seemed like a perfect fit,” said Mode. “I have such a love of the area after spending the past two summers working with the Juneau Icefield Research Program and doing other residencies in Southeast Alaska and was excited to build on those experiences and explore a new route while making art.”
“I spend a lot of time making work outside in nature, whether day-hiking in the Bay Area, traversing across glaciers in Alaska, or leading art workshops in Patagonia. I work across mediums to make things that explore geologic empathy and help people form connections to the environment, climate change and deep time,” she added.
“I’m hoping to continue to find more opportunities to work in polar science, exploring visual art as a tool for interdisciplinary learning and science communication. Especially at a time when climate change is such an urgent and important issue, I’m excited by the role that art can create platforms for engagement and empathy–to connect with concepts of climate science, glaciology, and geologic time in a new way.

“Depending on the project, you might find me making small drawings out on a trail, cyanotype prints of feminist constellation shapes, an installation of melting ice sculptures, or digging up clay to use for sculptures. I also often organize storytelling events and participatory projects, either out in the field with groups of scientists or students, or as part of a larger art exhibition project.”
Conducting an artist residence as a backpacking trip creates an extra set of challenges. “I’m packing pretty light since we are carrying everything in our backpacks,” said Mode. “When I’m out in the field I like having a ‘toolkit’ of supplies (watercolors, pens, pencils, camera, etc.), but leaving a lot of the plan more open. I find that this leaves space for me to respond to my environment and go with the flow. To better absorb and understand my present experience and make art that feels more heartfelt than if I had a super structured plan laid out ahead of time. I also think of my time as an opportunity to research and garner firsthand experience that then goes into larger installation or painting projects later.”

This isn’t to say that Mode doesn’t have a plan for her time on the trail. “I’m looking forward to doing a lot of watercolor painting, photographing, sketching, reading and writing. I will also be working on a collaborative project with my friend Kristin Link, a Chilkoot artist-in-residence from last year. My hiking partner, Danny Lulu, is also an artist and musician. He is bringing a couple small instruments and a recording device, so we have also been scheming about a sound and visual project to work on together while we are camping! I’m also really looking forward to talking with other hikers and leading a drawing workshop or two.”

Mode is really looking forward to sharing her work with the community both on and off the trail. She said that, on the trail, her fellow hikers can look forward to some small drawing workshops and possibly a storytelling night or two. She currently has three artists talks scheduled during her residency. On Monday, July 8, she will give a 7 p.m. talk at Sheep Camp on the trail. On Saturday, July 13, she will speak at 7 p.m. at Lindeman City, also on the trail. On Wednesday, July 17, she will talk at 5:30 p.m. at the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site in Whitehorse.

Even if you aren’t hiking the Chilkoot Trail during the time of Mode’s residency, you can still experience her journey by following along on instagram at

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