Water and Ice: Metaphors of Transformation

February 13, 2014 | Writings

Our Canadian friend, artist Jan Kabatof, sent us her recent photograph of the Athabasca Glacier in Canada. Her art is steeped in a contemplative engagement with nature and specific focus on glaciers. She told us that she continues her “reflection on the nature of water and ice as metaphors of that which is mutable, transient and impermanent in our inner and outer worlds. As one of the key elements of life, water also has the ability to evoke contemplation, self-reflection, deep or turbulent emotions. Its variability and movement can bring forth change, chaos and uncertainty as well as inspiration, creativity and an opening to the new.

Frozen water moves slowly, at glacial speed, carrying with it layers of ancient history and memory, revealed slowly over time. A signifier of expansion and contraction, of blood and dramatic changes, the in and out breath.

The medium of wax holds a similar fascination, with alchemical properties that can change from a solid to a liquid when enough heat is applied and back to a solid when it cools. The variability of wax is akin to that of water, as it flows carrying mineral pigments, then pools and solidifies on canvas, taking me into new territory, into the unknown, into abstraction. Shapes change, colors merge, preconceived notions are let go. And as the layers of hardened wax are scraped away, the new is revealed.”

Glaciers make up 10% of there earth’s mass and store up to 75% of the earth’s fresh water.
Most glaciers worldwide are melting at an accelerated rate. The 2012 extent was 50% lower that 1979-2000.
Glaciologists tell us the rate of ice melting now far exceeds the rate at the end of the last major Ice Age, with a substantial increase since the 1980s.
The changed glaciers alter rain patterns and reduce water in rivers as well as food supply to nearby communities.

“Nature’s best thermometer, perhaps its most sensitive indicator of climate change, is ice. When ice gets sufficiently warm, it melts. Ice asks no questions, presents no arguments, reads no newspapers, listens to no debates. It is not burdened by ideology and carries no political baggage as it crosses the threshold from solid to liquid. It just melts.” (from Henry Pollack’s book, A World Without Ice)

Athabasca Glacier, Canada

Athabasca Glacier, Canada