Sinking Bluff by Victoria Livingston

In partnership with Emily Rau, a J. Philip Keillor Coastal Management Fellow, Sinking Bluff (Gouache, 13″ x 10″) depicts one of many unique bluffs lining the western shore of Lake Michigan. The painting captures an unstable bluff, that over time has been exposed to erosion by coastal hazards. Bluffs can be weakened in a variety of ways such as variations in water levels, groundwater seepage, overdevelopment of shorelines, surface runoff, strong lake currents, wave action, etc. These processes have become more concerning in recent years as climate change bolstered by human activity has taken effect on our lakes. 

Many humanmade solutions to prevent/slow erosion have only been effective in the short term. Groins, like the one depicted in the painting, often end up disrupting the necessary movement of lake sediment over time and do not protect adjacent shorelines consequently causing accelerated erosion in those areas. The landscape in the painting is sparse in vegetation, a common feature of unstable bluffs, and the exposed sandy soil is being carried away by the waves hitting the beach. The color palette is made up of muted earthy tones, defined by areas of high contrast. Highlights in the piece such as the breaking waves and seeping sand give the landscape the illusion of movement and action.


Victoria Livingston is a contemporary- traditionalist artist and undergraduate student attending the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She works primarily with clay and ceramics, however, her 2D work appears in a variety of media including pencil/ink drawing, gouache illustration, and acrylic paintings. Much of her subject matter depicts the complex dichotomies within the human experience and modernity. Victoria jumped at the opportunity to produce work supplementing awareness of scientific studies in her home state and is proud to be a part of this creative collaboration.

ABOUT THE Water Partner

Emily Rau is the 2021-2022 J. Philip Keillor Coastal Management Fellow with the Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program. Her fellowship work focuses on tackling the important challenge of connecting science related to coastal processes, including flooding, erosion, and water levels, with the Wisconsin coastal communities along lakes Michigan and Superior that could benefit from this information.