Deep Ice, Deep Time – a Journey to West Antarctica

Photo of West Antarctic plateau - courtesy Kendrick Taylor

Photo of West Antarctic plateau - courtesy Kendrick Taylor

I am thrilled to announce my participation in the National Science Foundations’ Artist and Writers program to travel to West Antarctica this winter.  I will travel to the WAIS Divide Ice Core Project field camp to sketch, photograph, and observe the camp and  surrounding ice sheet plateau.  In 2010, I will create a suite of etchings, drawings and multimedia prints inspired by the land and research.

It has been a long journey to get to this point.  Like many folks, my fascination with the polar landscape began as a child (I was born during the first International Polar Year, 1959) mesmerized by  stories from the heroic days of polar exploration (think Shackleton, Amundson, Scott. . .).

I first heard about the Artists and Writers program ten years ago, while reading Terra Incognita, by Sarah Wheeler.  In 2007, I began research to apply to the NSF program with an immersion into climate science, glaciology and ice core research.  A central goal in my artwork is to convey the accumulation of time and history in the land.  I found the immensity of the ice sheet with its 200,000 year old ice seductive.  It seems to me an ancient tome of earth’s breath and memory is captured in its transparent gas bubbles; the scientists are its seers.

Ice Core section, from Greenland GISP2 Core

Ice Core section, from Greenland GISP2 Core

Previous posts describe some of this story, including a visit to the National Ice Core Lab and my work at the University of Washington’s Isolab with Dr. Eric Steig and graduate student Peter Neff.  But I have also spoken with many other scientists, including University of Alaska-Fairbanks professor Matthew Wooller, who first introduced me to isotope science and its role in determining past climate history. Mat also introduced me to sediment coring and the permafrost landscape.   University of Washington professor Howard Conway shared images and stories of his research, including Ice Penetrating Radar.  Desert Research Institute research scientist Kendrick Taylor (lead scientist for the WAIS project), has been very generous with his time, offering advice and support to my grant proposal.

A tentative schedule for this project is:

December 2009-January 2010 – Travel to Antarctica

February 2010-Fall 2010 – Studio work creating etchings and drawings for Exhibition, December 2010

April 2010-Fall 2010 – Create middle school presentation, collaborate with educators

Winter 2010 – release of catalog

In December, I will begin more frequent posts of my travels and the project.  Keep posted!

One thought on “Deep Ice, Deep Time – a Journey to West Antarctica

  1. Vicki L Platts-Brown

    So nice to see you at Sev Shoon during recent art walk. I’ll follow your adventure via your blogs. So happy you attained this opportunity. Can’t wait to see the resulting art. When I was 21, I spent a glorious summer on the Clearwater River, surveying and dropping test pits. The Nat’l Science Foundation provided the monetary support. It remains one of my favorite memories.

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