Monday, October 2, 2006
Naturalist/illustrator David Carroll, author of The Year of the Turtle, Swampwalker's Journal, and Self-Portrait with Turtles, has won a MacArthur Fellowship. Oh, my stars.
The $500,000, no-strings-attached fellowships, announced Tuesday 9/19/06, by the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, recognized people in a wide variety of fields. The grants are awarded by an anonymous 12-member selection committee and the foundation's board of directors. The foundation has named 732 fellows since 1981.
"These awards are about more than money. They carry an affirmation not only of individual creativity but also are a mark of respect for a whole field of endeavor," said Jonathan F. Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation. "These are activities that society doesn't always give proper due or comment to."
Warner, New Hampshire
David Carroll has the eye of an artist, the mind of a scientist, the voice of a great storyteller, and the soul of a conservationist. An illustrator, author, and naturalist for over forty years, he has made voluminous, detailed observations of the ecology of the deciduous hardwood forests and wetland habitats around New England, especially near his home in central New Hampshire. His understanding of the plants and animals that comprise these natural systems makes him a valuable resource for herpetologists, ecologists, and conservationists, providing a meticulous chronicle of life in areas threatened by human encroachment and imparting essential insights for those attempting to protect them. Freshwater turtles are the central focus of his studies, particularly the increasingly rare spotted and wood turtles. With an artist's sensibility, David Carroll immerses himself in wetland environments, gaining a deep understanding of the lives of swamp-dwelling creatures and the threats to their survival. He has published four books on aspects of natural history and wildlife preservation, including Swampwalker's Journal (1999), detailing his expeditions and illustrated with precise sketches and maps, and Self-Portrait with Turtles (2004), a memoir that describes his lifelong fascination with swamps and the creatures that inhabit them. Through his artwork, writing, fieldwork, and speaking, Carroll helps people of all ages see the beauty, history, and value in swamps, marshes, bogs, kettle ponds, and rivers.
David Carroll received a B.F.A (1965) from Tufts University. He is the author and illustrator of Trout Reflections (1993) and The Year of the Turtle (1991), in addition to his more recent books. Carroll‚s artwork has been exhibited at such institutions as the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Dartmouth College Museum and Galleries, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut. He is also an active lecturer and consultant to conservation institutions throughout New England.
Carroll has lived most of his life as a freelance writer and illustrator. He and his wife, who is also an artist, have raised three children and constantly struggled financially. For three decades, he said, he and his family have gone without health insurance.
He recounted once talking to a friend who was trying to persuade him to buy an answering machine. If he did buy one, he recalled telling the friend, then he would record a message that said: "If you are calling from the MacArthur Foundation, please leave a message. All others, please call back."
"It's such an affirmation," Carroll said of the fellowship. "To be able to look ahead and know that I have a period of time to focus mainly on creative efforts and not the daily staying afloat that most of us have ... it enables my concentration on expanding my creative efforts."
"Moving about like a separate creature, his head glides in a measured turn on his arching neck, along the water surface, back to face me. I look into those impressive eyes: a white fleck of daylight shows in the gold-ringed, jet black pupil from which five black slashes radiate on a ground of amber and blue scattered with black dots. There is a distance in them, a coldness; they are eyes filled with stars. I look into them and look back into an unfathomable time and point of consciousness. It may be in such eyes that the universe first discovered a way to look back upon itself."
Thanks to my good friend Dr. Bill Belzer, another passionate, tireless turtle advocate and MacArthur candidate if ever there were one, for sending me the terrific news. Text, most of it, lifted from a MacArthur press release. Images brazenly lifted from the University of Connecticut's library web site.
David Carroll, lifting wetlands, turtles, and all of us along with him. Thank you, MacArthurs, for noticing.
Posted by Julie Zickefoose at 5:00 AM