The GNSI Annual Conference in Olympia Washington suffered from the same problem as all the previous meetings I have attended: The core conference days (Monday through Wednesday) were divided into three simultaneously running equally interesting 1-hour sessions and I could physically only attend one at the time. I also realized that this is one of the reasons I always want to go back to these meetings, hoping that 2/3 of the presentations would be repeated with updated information.
On Tuesday some of my personal highlights were Katura Reynolds' presentation on the history, development and future of stippling; Peggy Macnamara's explorations in the world of nature; Daniela Molnar's interpretation of the confluence of visual and verbal art with reference to scientific illustration. Michael Felber took us to Katmai National Park in Alaska where he has been observing the coastal Grizzly bears on several occasions at close range (15-20 ft). Finally on Tuesday we got a presentation on the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle and the invaluable work that the Great Plains Chapter of the GNSI has done to increase the awareness of this endangered species in Southern Nebraska. I missed all the paleo-talks and many more.
Wednesday was as interesting since it included the latest on Intellectual Property and a lively panel and open discussion on the future of botanical art with reference to the techniques (traditional versus digital). Here we generally agreed that the computer program (like Illustrator) is a tool that requires knowledge of drafting skills for effective use within scientific illustration. Tania Marien had a very interesting presentation about Plant Blindness. She also talked about the Botanical Capacity Assessment Project and the surprising findings which you can read about in the final report.
The most cutting edge presentation of this conference was given by Captain Suzan Wallace. Suzan represents the sailors who have throughout history been at the vanguard of (nature) journaling, blogging and navigation technology (such as time keeping, astronomy, GPS, etc). With the help of Skype Suzan provided a virtual appearance by Glydnis Ridley who documented Jeanne Barret, the first woman to circumnavigate the world. Danielle Eubank was also virtually present. Danielle is the expedition artist for the Phoenicia, a re-creation of a 6th century BCE Phoenician sailing vessel.
The core conference was concluded with a banquet at the Longhouse Education Center. Odin Lonning (Tlingit) and Orcha Annie (Choctaw/Five Tribes descent) performed and also introduced the Vashon Hydrophone Project to the GNSI community.
After the core conference many of the 150+ participants stayed for field trips and/or workshops. Those of us who left immediately are eagerly awaiting the next conference in Savannah, Georgia: