To the Lighthouse

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In a jet-lagged haze, I travelled northward to an island off the coast of another island. After taking a plane, a bus, a van, another plane, a taxi, a bus, and a ferry, I finally arrived in Hrisey, Iceland, the ‘Second largest island in Iceland’ (approx. 3 sq mi).

In the past two weeks on Hrisey, I have successfully mapped where all of the village dogs live, hiked just about every square foot of the island, befriended a few village people, and created a substantial body of work. Alongside these endeavors, I have had the pleasure of living and working with three other artists (living in a supposedly haunted former school house on a small island near the Arctic Circle does wonders in bringing people together).

The other artists, while further along in their careers, have been particularly generous in sharing this experience with me. Whether it be chasing down a whale in the fjord, drawing each other at the island pub, or our daily ping-pong tournaments, we have turned our isolation into a bit of fun.

One of my favorite experiences thus far has been journeying through the clouds and wind to the lighthouse on the far side of the island. There’s one main road on the island, which bisects both the village and bird sanctuary. To get to the lighthouse we followed this road for three miles, hopped over a fence, and walked another two miles toward the north end of the island. Up through the bird sanctuary, we passed the nesting sites of Eider ducks, found a small sea-foam green egg (later identified as belonging to the Arctic Tern), and met the family that owns this part of the island. We continued along through a field of wild lupine. In the distance we saw the bright orange lighthouse.

Upon arriving to the lighthouse, I immediately climbed up the ladder to the top in hopes of getting a better view of the cliffs. The dense fog obscured the view–I couldn’t see past my fingertips. Sitting atop the lighthouse, clouds rushed past. The harsh Arctic wind whipped against my face. I moved to the backside of the balcony, sheltered from the wind. The other artists walked past the lighthouse and into the fog. As they dared to tread the edge of the cliff, I sat beneath the massive light bulb. Every so often the fog cleared enough to reveal the mountaintops across the fjord. I sat there for quite some time (even took a short nap) then carefully descended the ladder and made my way back into the lupine fields.

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Rebecca Pempek

Rebecca Pempek is a studio art major from Putnam, Connecticut.

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