I am excited and proud to announce an amazing artistic adventure! For the first time ever, American and Mongolian artists will travel to the Gobi of Mongolia for wildlife watching and then collaborate to create both an online and international art exhibition of the animals and their habitats, including endangered species like the Przewalski’s horse.
From September 1-22, the first WildArt Mongolia Expeditionwill travel to a part of Mongolia which is far off the tourist track…a nomadic journey to the southwestern Gobi, where we will visit the Altai Mountains, land of the snow leopard; the Dzungarian Gobi, where the last wild tahki (Przewalski’s horse) was seen in 1969 and where they were re-introduced to Takhiin Tal in the early 1990s; and a last remaining stretch of the legendary Central Asian grassland steppe, the Sharga, where one of the mostly highly endangered antelopes in the world, the saiga, is making a last stand. En route between these special destinations, based on my experience of six trips to Mongolia, we will see wonderful things every day since in the Land of Blue Skies, more than in most places, the journey really is the destination.
Expedition arrangements are being made and staff provided by Nomadic Journeys, with whom I have traveled for five out of my six trips to Mongolia.
Updates on my own blog, a Facebook public page and a Board on Pinterest will help you follow along with the preparations and the expedition itself. I will do my best to help you feel what it will be like to travel to an extraordinary place and see the animals, land and people of Mongolia.
Coming up between now and departure will be the latest news, information and links on the featured species and the scientists who study them, profiles of the participating artists, information about gear and logistics and more.
Excerpt from the Expedition prospectus:
Expedition Mission: To travel to the southwestern Gobi and visit the habitats of and, with luck, see the following endangered species: snow leopard (very highly unlikely, but not totally impossible), takhi (Przewalski’s horse), khulan (Mongolian wild ass) and saiga antelope. There will also be many birds that we may observe, including lammergeier, steppe and golden eagles, cinereous vultures and a variety of songbirds, along with small mammals such as tolai hare and two species of foxes, and probably small reptiles such as lizards.
- To observe these endangered species and explore their habitats, gathering reference for creating original art
- To teach Mongol artists (at least two of which will be coming with us) how to use their art to support conservation and to share our expertise in wildlife art fieldwork and drawing/painting outdoors, but also to learn from them about their country through their eyes as artists
- To meet the scientists who are doing research on these species, have an opportunity to learn from them and apply that knowledge to the art we will create
- To gather reference for a joint American-Mongol art exhibition which will be exhibited in both Ulaanbaatar and the United States
The WildArt Mongolia Expedition is “A Fourth Neighbor Initiative” of Art Partnerships for Mongolian Conservation (APMC is my non-profit association which works through the Conservation Biology Department of the Denver Zoo.) “Fourth Neighbor” refers to the government of Mongolia’s Third Neighbor foreign policy through which the country pursues close connections with countries like the USA, Korea and Japan as a counterbalance to being located between Russia and China. The US Ambassador, who I met with in Ulaanbaatar, the capital, last September, reacted with approval to the concept, as did the Director of the Arts Council of Mongolia. I see artists and other creative people as potentially important “fourth neighbors” for Mongolia, a country with an incredibly rich artistic heritage and many artists working today in a variety of media.
Maps of Mongolia and the Expedition area:
Note: The photos used to illustrate this post are from my previous trips to similar areas.