ICE BOOKS: Ice Receding/Books Reseeding


“Irland shares a legacy with intrepid 19th century naturalists, and is utterly heedless of wet, dirt and cold. Along with paddling canoes and waterproofing her hiking boots, she’s handy with a microscope in the service of her art, not to mention collegial goals with biologists, botanists, and stream ecologists. She is also an irrepressible researcher, but she is transparently impassioned by water, watersheds, and the flora and fauna (including communities of people) that populate them.”

Malin Wilson, writer


“The ice book was beautiful - a time-based art object, but also a vehicle for change.”

Harmony Hammond, artist, writer


“Irland poignantly demonstrates the co-implication of text and the elemental in her ice books.”

Amanda Boetzekes, writer


River water is frozen, carved into the form of a book, embedded with an “ecological language” or “riparian text” consisting of local native seeds, and placed back into the stream. The seeds are released as the ice melts in the current. Those who contribute to or participate in the Ice Book launches are determined by the location. Along the Nisqually River in Washington, for example, Nisqually Tribal Members, salmon restoration specialists, musicians, fifth graders attending WaHeLut Indian School, students and professors from Evergreen State College, Forest Rangers, all joined in the ice book launches. Participants in New Mexico on the Rio Grande have included artists, farmers, acequia majordomos, college students, professors, hydrologists, Pueblo members, and hundreds of interested watershed citizens.


Ice Receding/Books Reseeding emphasizes the necessity of communal effort and scientific knowledge to deal with the complex issues of climate disruption and watershed restoration by releasing seed-laden ephemeral ice sculptures into rivers. I work with stream ecologists, biologists, and botanists to ascertain the best seeds for each specific riparian zone. When an ecosystem is restored and the plants grow along the riverbanks they give back to us by helping sequester carbon, mitigating floods and drought, pollinating other plants, dispersing seeds, holding the banks in place (slowing erosion), creating soil regeneration and preservation, acting as filters for pollutants and debris, supplying leaf-litter (for food and habitat), promoting aesthetic pleasure, and providing shelter/shade for riverside organisms including humans.


The title of this work was first conceived for “Weather Report,” a groundbreaking exhibition about climate change curated by art critic/author Lucy Lippard for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, Colorado. Arapaho Glacier, which provides some of Boulder’s drinking water is rapidly melting and joining hundreds of other glaciers around the world, which are disappearing. One of the ways to help sequester more carbon and hopefully reduce some of the effects of climate change is through plants: Hence, Ice Receding/Books Reseeding.


Gallery and museum installations of the Ice Books include 30" x 24" photographs of the books printed on canvas, with smaller images of the sculptures being launched into rivers. Amid the photographs is a monitor showing the video, Ice Receding/Books Reseeding. At eye level, on a metal grate above a trough, an Ice Book is placed and allowed to melt during the opening. After a week or so the seeds released into the trough during the melt, sprout in the water provided by the ice, creating a micro-ecosystem in the gallery. The sprouts are then taken to the river to float downstream, completing a cycle.


For additional information on the Ice Books, see the Ice Receding/Books Reseeding video.


A limited number or photographic prints (24" x 30" on archival canvas) of select Ice Books are available for purchase. Please contact for additional information.

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