Few exhibitions have managed to intertwine environmental awareness with historical consciousness as seamlessly as Juliet Schreckinger's The Ghost Lights solo exhibition. Hosted by Arch Enemy Arts, this solo exhibition presents 24 captivating drawings that bring together extinct maritime animals and revive historic American lighthouses, calling for their memory and preservation while instilling a sense of mystique and wonder.
“I’m drawing a parallel between these “Lost Lights” and so many beloved animals. They are gone, permanently. Yet the ghost of these things, the memory, lives on and inspires us to do better and to protect those that are still here,” said Schreckinger in an interview with Arch Enemy Arts.
Based in Long Island, New York, Schreckinger melds her passion for nature, the ocean, and its creatures into her distinctive art, primarily using stippling techniques in pen, ink, graphite, and occasional colour. Influenced by black and white photography, classic television, and film noir from her childhood, Schreckinger’s work revels in stark contrasts and dramatic lighting, aiming to give voice to nature and animals.
In Ghost Lights, Schreckinger gives a voice to extinct marine creatures, depicting them as ghostly guardians of old lighthouses, known as the “lost lights,” a term coined by the United States Lighthouse Society to describe the historic lighthouses that have sadly been lost to time. These once pivotal maritime landmarks are brought back to life through Schreckinger's artistic prowess and research on the history of the landmarks. Her drawings portray these watchtowers standing strong and tall above moonlit waves, their past glory illuminated by the extinct creatures that once called the lighthouses and the ocean surrounding the area home.
Schreckinger has pledged a portion of her exhibition's profits to the United States Lighthouse Society to support the preservation of lighthouses as essential habitats for the various species of birds, seals, and other wildlife. By creating awareness of the fragile balance of the ecosystem and the urgent need to protect it, Schreckinger reflects the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for Quality Education and Life Below Water.
Schreckinger's choice of ink and graphite as her mediums adds a gentle, atmospheric quality to her work. Each stroke conveys a sense of loneliness and longing, fitting for the vast expanse of the ocean the spirits of these extinct animals now inhabit. Her style strikes a balance between whimsy and grandeur, reminding one of the solitude that lighthouses represent and the silent tales of the species lost.
Accompanying the visual art is Schreckinger's collection of short stories, The Ghost Lights: Volume I. Each story corresponds to an artwork, weaving a narrative about the animals and places that no longer exist, exploring their existence in the spectral realm. This literary addition opens a dialogue about the shared responsibility to preserve the natural world and its historical heritage. Embodying a hopeful message inspires humanity to appreciate, protect, and cherish the natural and historical treasures still around.
The Ghost Lights exhibition conveys shared responsibility in protecting endangered species and disappearing cultural landmarks. Schreckinger's work, with its mystery and melancholic charm, subtly reminds one that in preservation, one honours the past and keeps alive the stories and spirits that define the shared human experience.