Paper Sculpture, Paintings,
and Drawings

Lonnie Hutson
Artist’s Statement

Imagine the world without free-flowing water, wild salmon or the great white sturgeon, North America’s largest freshwater fish, an ancient species that has been patrolling rivers and estuaries for 175 million years.

My handmade paper relief sculptures, document the native fish species of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, including threatened or endangered fishes such as chinook salmon, steelhead, bull trout, sockeye salmon and white sturgeon.

Using art to present the familiar in a new way, fish are stripped down to essential form and represent a healthy river ecosystem. Health, defined as “a flourishing condition and well-being,” is a concept grounded in science yet easily understood by the public, just as a fish is something everyone has had experience with.

I have worked as a wilderness guide and outfitter for over forty years, observing firsthand the rapid and sometimes dramatic changes occurring in our physical environment. I have had the opportunity to compare Alaska’s healthy ecosystem with those of the increasingly sterile rivers of the Pacific Northwest.

Since fish first emerged over 520 million years ago, they have evolved within ecosystems that have enabled and supported their survival. Yet, in the past one hundred years, pressure from human activity has disrupted that delicate balance, resulting in diminished fish populations, that put some species at risk of extinction.

By focusing on native fishes as a barometer for river health, my hope is that this work will produce consideration for environmental sustainability, help bring awareness to ecological concerns and spark conversations about maintaining and/or rebuilding our natural resources for everyone and everything with a current or future vested interest.