“Ohio Boundary: Lake Erie” Art Exhibition
From May 26-June 30, enjoy a special exhibit at the Train Station, titled “Ohio Boundary: Lake Erie.” The exhibit will be available to view on Fridays from 3-5 p.m. and will conclude with a special reception and book signing with the artist on June 30 from 5-7 p.m.
About “Ohio Boundary: Lake Erie”
Lynn Whitney, Associate Professor, emerita, School of Art, and George Bullerjahn, PhD, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences, started working together in the fall of 2021. While both retired this year from Bowling Green State University, their separate efforts continue to raise awareness about the critical state in which Lake Erie again finds herself.
A few years ago, Bullerjahn invited Whitney, along with several other colleagues and students, to participate in his research supported by the Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health. Whitney knew there was trouble beneath the surface but had only a general knowledge. She did not know the underlying changes in the condition of the lake. Her pictures, which she has been making since 2009, wanted and needed the framework of Bullerjahn’s scientific expertise.
The North American Great Lakes represent over 20% of the surface fresh water on Earth. Lake Erie, being the shallowest of the lakes, and having the highest population in its basin, is under continuous assault by the forces of human activity, invasive species and climate change. The waters, seemingly endless, are an abundant, yet fragile resource. Fisheries, water quality and coastlines are now drastically different following the displacement of indigenous peoples by European settlers.
By the 1970s, Lake Erie was unceremoniously declared dead, due to urban pollution that choked the lake with toxic algae and fuel spills that set the Cuyahoga River on fire. These events led to the establishment of the first Earth Day in 1970. Consequently, changes in wastewater treatment and the use of phosphate detergents yielded dramatic improvements in water quality and lake habitat. Yet, in this century, the state of the lake has again declined. Lake Erie has an additional burden because its home is the Rust Belt – a political and media generated term degrading and generalizing the decline of the region and its population.
With her 8×10 camera, Whitney’s photographs reveal Lake Erie from varying distances and throughout the seasons. The pictures are made from or on the shoreline, the surface where reflections on cultural, environmental and personal realities are exposed. As a collection, these photographs remind us of the past we share; of what we have done and continue to do to the Lake and to each other. “Ohio Boundary: Lake Erie” asks what the chances are for our collective future and offers hope in the effort of noticing.
With ongoing, unmitigated climate change, freshwater will become the world’s most crucial resource, and its scarcity will present a threat to global security.
Lynn Whitney served as Associate Director, 2017–2020, Studio Division Chair, 2006–2017, and Head of Photography,1987–2020, in the School of Art at Bowling Green State University. With roots in New England, Whitney is, for over 30 years, a Northwest Ohio-based photographer whose photographs explore and examine the cultural landscape in which she finds herself.
Through subtle means, she responds to, and reflects upon current social and environmental issues. Whether engaging with the tasks demanded of farm animals or those of Sisters in a convent, or the waters of Lake Erie, with her large format camera, she offers reminders of the rewards in paying careful attention.
Her photographic practice informed her teaching, generating enthusiasm for photographic history and photography’s power to create meaningful exchanges with the world. She received her BA in American culture studies from Boston University, her BFA in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and her MFA from Yale University School of Art.
Among her awards, she has received commissions from the Toledo Museum of Art and the George Gund Foundation in Cleveland, the Community Partner Award from the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and an Individual Artist Grant from the Ohio Arts Council. Her work is represented by Aurelia Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico and is in the collections of The Toledo Museum of Art, the George Gund Foundation, Columbia College’s Midwest Photographer’s Project, The Cleveland Clinic, Ohio Humanities Council, Southeast Center for Photographic Studies and Yale University.
Her book, Lake Erie published by Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany will be available for signing. Release in the United States is scheduled for September 2023.
Dr. George S. Bullerjahn is currently Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at Bowling Green State University and Director of the NIEHS/NSF Great Lakes Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health. His research focuses on chronic cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cHABs), which can produce toxins that harm human and animal health.
Bullerjahn and colleagues are identifying the environmental factors that drive cHAB and examining how climate change may affect cHAB growth and toxicity of cyanobacteria during bloom events. This research builds on the work of several collaborating institutions in response to the 2014 Toledo Water Crisis, in which the city’s water supply was contaminated with cHAB toxins.
Bullerjahn received his AB at Dartmouth College, his PhD at The University of Virginia, and was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Missouri. Along with the students in his laboratory, he has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and received over $8 million in federal funds to support his research. He has collaborated with scientists in Europe, Asia and North America on projects focused on the microbiology of freshwaters.