Building on a two-year environmental photography project that started right with the pandemic, Eliot Dudik handed the work over to a student this summer, as originally intended.
Dudik, an associate professor of photography in art and art history at William & Mary, mentored Joshua Miner ’24 during his internship at the Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park in Winter Harbor, Maine.
“I feel very fortunate in the collaboration between William & Mary and my mentor Eliot Dudik and the Schoodic Institute here to be able to give me the opportunity to explore and experiment with art as it is sometimes a difficult field to explore find.” said Bergmann. “Having committed the money and time to an artistic endeavor without showing works for decades and having gallery experience – I just feel incredibly fortunate to have this time to grow and develop.”
Picturesque, spacious and beautiful, the park is a photographer’s dream and offers opportunities to engage various environmental science groups working throughout.
“It was an incredible opportunity to explore, grow and interact with new people,” Miner said. “It’s been challenging and exciting that so many different things are happening here, so many different types of science and so many different interests. Being in the science communicator role as I am, I am able to test the waters of each of them and highlight a bit of the history of the Schoodic Institute and the work they do. ”
From basic skills like working in the Wadden Sea and observing crab experiments, to patience and detailed specificity, this summer’s learning for miners also comes from diverse communities around the institute. These range from board members to work-field ecologists and primary investigators on scientific research teams.
“I’m able to expand the breadth of my work beyond a microcosm that is a university to … a place like Acadia that has every type of natural landscape there is, from arid deserts to rocky shores to humid forests,” Miner said. “The types of people you meet range from young children who visit the park for introductory scientific adventures, to college students, working adults, to retirees looking to experiment and explore. It is unique to have such a background in terms of age and level of experience.”
Dudik started the project in the summer of 2020 when Schoodic officials asked him to interpret the researchers’ environmental science work and the impact of climate change at the park for the public through photos, videos, social media and website footage. Dudik and Linda Moses ’16, then a graduate student at Syracuse University, began building a collaborative framework that included archiving photos and creating short videos to share with people who were affected during the park’s pandemic closure were at home.
“I started working on a re-photography project where I was trying to find the exact spot where a photographer set up his tripod and photographed in Acadia National Park about a hundred years ago so we could compare how those Landscape today and then looks like today – and see what is the same and what has changed,” said Dudik.
Dudik arranged a W&M student internship and worked with Schoodic while continuing his ongoing photography project in Maine during the winter of 2020-21 and last summer. Science groups had returned and activity had increased.
Funding from a Catron Fellowship through W&M’s Charles Center enabled Miner to apply and be selected for this summer’s Schoodic Science Communications intern.
Just before Dudik left to teach workshops on the Maine coast, the two were spending their days at the park with environmental science researchers or conducting their own dual-purpose research. They help Miner fulfill his internship duties while building his personal photo portfolio.
“I’m first and foremost a science communication expert in the sense that I go out with the teams, photograph them, interview them,” Miner said, “and I try to connect their work to an audience. And this is done through publications, written online articles and building a stock library for both marketing purposes and scientific journals.
“And on the personal side, I’m working as an artist-in-residence of sorts with Eliot Dudik to build my own body of work and use that time to create a more artistic narrative that goes beyond the mere goal of connecting science with an audience. “
Miner is an art and art history major with a focus on studio art with a focus on sculpture and 3-D design. He has attended every photography course offered at W&M and completed two independent studies with Dudik which prepared him for his final two years focusing on his major.
“I imagine he’ll find ways to bring photography into his work because it’s definitely an important part of his life,” said Dudik. “He’s the kind of student who doesn’t just take pictures for a homework assignment. It’s a part of his life which makes him a great candidate for an opportunity like this up here because he has his camera in his hand all day every day since he’s out in the countryside. He understands the value in that.”
According to Miner, Dudik modeled and taught both practical and intangible skills during the project.
“It was a great learning experience to really approach it from an ideational point of view and figure out how to create the most unique, interesting and interactive story I want to tell…” Miner said.
“I have been very fortunate to be able to travel around the area with him on a number of occasions, photographing different plants, birds and species and trying to capture as much artistic presence as we can with these spaces to bring them out the science that is being made.”
Jennifer L Williams, communication specialist