From the Carolina Outer Banks to New York's Fire Island, from Iceland to the Netherlands and Colombia to Vietnam, barrier islands protect much of the world's coastlines from the ravages of the sea. Although these islands are vastly different in many ways, they also share many common features. Most dramatic among these is their dynamism-barrier islands are in almost constant motion, their advances and retreats powerful testimony to the force and beauty of nature-and their vulnerability in the face of a different kind of force, commercial and residential development. This first-of-its-kind survey of barrier islands around the globe had its genesis in 1993, when geologist Orrin Pilkey met artist Mary Edna Fraser at Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina. They soon realized they shared a passion for the barriers, one heightened by the many threats the islands face from development and global warming. These fragile and irreplaceable jewels, Pilkey and Fraser determined, needed to be better understood, and, as important, to be seen in a new way, if they were to be saved.
Every bit as dynamic as the islands they depict, Mary Edna Fraser's spectacular original batik artwork (silk cloth colored by hand using a modern variation of an ancient dyeing technique) has been exhibited in both science and art museums. Combined with Orrin Pilkey's engaging and informative text, they create a treasure of a book that is at once beautiful and rigorously scientific. Pilkey identifies three major types of barriers-coastal plains, Arctic, and delta-each with its own geological characteristics and particular morphologies, which are themselves shaped by several factors, including the absence or presence of underlying rock formations, tidal patterns, and vegetation. Employing the latest advances in geological mapping, Pilkey also identifies traces of ancient barriers marking long-lost shorelines-a further reminder that in the geological dance of land and sea, change is the only constant. Praise for Mary Edna Fraser and her art: "Pilot with a palette...as much of an artist in the midst of the creative process as Picasso laboring over his easel."
-Michael Kilian, Chicago Tribune "Fraser's works depict an organization and sensuousness in the land that is visible only from the air." -Susan Lawson-Bell, National Air & Space Museum "Exhibited and collected around the world, her batiks have a common theme: promoting the awareness of environmental beauty and change on the planet as seen from the air. " -Carolyn Russo, Women and Flight