UW Today

December 12, 2011

Fisheries lands a Ray Troll – with slideshow

News and Information

To go:
Fisheries Sciences Building
1122 NE Boat Street
Building hours: Weekdays, 7am-5:30pm. Closed weekends and holidays
Borrow 3D glasses: Room 116, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

99 species of fish on the wall
99 species of fish
They swim round and round
Mostly in Puget Sound
99 species of fish on the wall
- Sing to tune of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”

People know about sharks but they might be surprised at some of the other toothy, carnivorous fish calling the Salish Sea home.

Take the longnose lancetfish, some which grow 5 feet long with 2-inch daggerlike teeth.

Sporting a dorsal fin like a sail, its one of 99 species gliding and snaking across a supersized 15-foot mural by Alaskan artist, author and confessed fish groupie Ray Troll, whose style has been described as “scientific surrealism.” The mural was unveiled last month at the University of Washingtons School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

The recently unveiled mural by Ray Troll, commissioned with donations raised by faculty, hangs in the Fisheries Sciences lobby.

The recently unveiled mural by Ray Troll, commissioned with donations raised by faculty, hangs in the Fisheries Sciences lobby.Ray Troll

Its on display in the lobby of the Fisheries Sciences Building. Be sure to grab a pair of loaner 3-D glasses from Chris Yoder in the main office down the hall in order to see the yelloweye rockfish, grunt sculpin, red Irish lord, showy snailfish and other brightly colored fishes emerge from the paintings depths.

The 3-D effect in the mural takes advantage of the fact that, to our eyes, warm colors seem to come toward us while cool colors recede, Troll said. Hes used the effect in other paintings, although never in such a large piece has he made it so pronounced. Through 3-D glasses, all the warm-colored fishes seem to float off the art work. While painting, Troll said he needed to put on such glasses from time to time and note which fish needed more warm tones and which needed more blue wash to cause them to recede.

At the waters surface, above the fishy fray, theres Seattle with its Space Needle, Mount Rainier and a sky where even the clouds are fishy.

Look close – can you spot the submarine periscope? The three orcas? The Boeing 737?

What about items displaying Trolls signature quirkiness? Is that a No. 2 pencil in the salty sea? A paintbrush, a tiny slice of pizza . . .

Uh, pizza?

“I couldnt paint a northern anchovy and not put pizza in front of it,” Troll said.

“That’s what you get with Ray Troll: rigorous scientific detail, odd juxtapositions, and an appreciation for diner food,” said a Seattle Post-Intelligencer review about a 2009 fossil exhibit at the UW Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture on which Troll collaborated.

Most all the species depicted in the mural are found in the Salish Sea, a name coined in recent years for the inland marine waters of Washington and British Columbia comprised of Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

UW's Ted Pietsch was a driving force to get the Ray Troll piece for the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences.

Ted Pietsch, professor of aquatic and fishery sciences and curator of the UWs fish collection, provided Troll with a list of the 240 species found in the Salish Sea. Pietsch and Troll got to know each other 30 years ago and Troll has sought Pietschs insights and made use of specimens over the years from the fish collection as one way to ensure his drawings are biologically accurate.

Troll worked on the painting at his Ketchikan studio for a year selecting species from Pietschs list, trying to get at least one representative of each family and just “letting the thing fill itself up until I couldnt fit anything more.” Noticing that a number of species were named for Trevor Kincaid, who established the UWs zoology and botany departments in the early 1900s, Troll painted Kincaids image, in a frame, floating with the fishes.

Troll created a key listing everything in the order he painted it.

The mural was commissioned with donations from aquatic and fishery sciences faculty — an effort kick started with $1,000 each from Pietsch and fellow fisheries professor Ray Hilborn– as well as alums and friends of the school.

Several species are represented more than once, bringing the total images in the water to 111. For example, under the belly of the striking sockeye salmon, all bright red and making its way back from the sea to spawn, are a couple of little smolts heading in the other direction and “looking up at dad,” Troll said.

Pietsch, who also is curator of fishes for the UW Burke Museum, said hes already dreaming up some kind of fish identification challenge using the mural for his “Biology of Fishes” next quarter.

NOTE ABOUT SLIDE SHOW: Images by Mary Levin, University Photographers, unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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