Shifting Baseline Syndrome
Acrylic on bigleaf maple leaves (framed size 18x24”)
“Environmental changes can develop insidiously over the years, unnoticed between generations that each interpret their own experience as the norm. In 1995, fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly coined the term ‘shifting baseline syndrome’ to explain this collective forgetfulness which allows for ‘a gradual accommodation of the creeping disappearance.’ Like the size and quality of these maple leaves, the sprawling Humes glacier of 1962 creates quite a different picture than in 2010, deteriorating even further in 2015. If a pressed leaf serves as a tangible memory lifted from a specific place and time, let’s keep them close to remember how much has changed, and consider what could be preserved for generations to come.
“Thanks to Eliza Goode for sending these precious leaves to me!” - Natalie Rotramel
Meet the artist: Natalie Rotramel
Natalie was born and raised in southern Illinois near the Shawnee National Forest, where the prehistoric glaciers that flattened the rest of the state receded and left a rocky wonderland. Her creative practice consists of plein air painting, exploring ways to incorporate natural materials in her work, and finding endless inspiration from the passage of time and seasons.
More about Humes Glacier
A large glacier in the headwaters of the Queets River. Though the 2015 retake is taken from a slightly lower altitude, the arrows highlight an obvious loss of ice extent and thickness. A glacial tarn occupies the bowl where the snout of the glacier was in 1962.
Second photo: Arrows in identical locations illustrate thinning and retreat. Note the left lobe of glacier in 1907 is nearly gone by 2006.
Last updated: August 21, 2023