ARTISTS AND WRITERS
At the Penguin Ranch near McMurdo Station, an underwater observation tube allows researchers to watch penguins dive. (NSF photo by Kris Kuenning)
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The National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Antarctic Artists and Writers Program makes it possible for the humanities (painting, photography, writing, and history) to be part of the U.S. Antarctic Program. Artists and writers work at U.S. stations and camps, often with science groups but sometimes on their own, to create works that portray the region or the activities that take place there.
The Antarctic Artists and Writers Program contributes to NSF's goal of advancing discovery while disseminating results broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding. The program helps record the Nation's antarctic heritage, responding to White House direction that the U.S. Antarctic Program support the range of U.S. interests in the region. Application procedures are available on the NSF Web site at www.nsf.gov/pubsys/ods/getpub.cfm?ods_key=nsf04558, and a list of past participants can be found at www.nsf.gov/od/opp/aawr.jsp.
The selection process for the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program is comparable to the one for science projects in that a peer-review panel meets at NSF annually to evaluate the applications; this panel's advice heavily influences the selections. The applicants who are chosen receive field support (including air travel from the United States), but no direct NSF funding. The program, while intended mainly for U.S. citizens, considers requests from artists and writers who live in other Antarctic Treaty nations but whose applications demonstrate that their works will reach a significant U.S. audience. The application deadline for participation in the 2007–2008 austral summer season will be 13 June 2006.
Examination of crevasses and other ice forms as artistic sources.
Gabriel P. Warren.
In 1999, Gabriel Warren became the first sculptor ever to be sent to Antarctica. This deployment represents a continuation of and builds on his previous visit. Ice is the primary source in the natural world for Warren's sculpture, which is always positioned at the interdisciplinary border between art and science. The pivotal role of the polar regions in global climate regulation, the threats posed to them from human activities, and the stunning beauty of ice forms provide ample justification for their use not only as a visual source, but in a metaphorical role to a impart larger meaning to his work.
A main focus of this deployment is crevasses and other internal spaces of ice forms. Mr. Warren will fly to the South Pole to observe the crevasse fields and chaos zones in and around the Transantarctic Mountains, fly over other areas at lower altitudes in helicopters that will take off from McMurdo Station, and descend into crevasses on Hut Point and other Ross Island sites. In the field, he will sketch, draw, paint if possible, keep a journal, photograph, converse, and be open to the unexpected. Upon his return, he will draw on these resources to create both indoor sculptures and large outdoor interpretive ice sculptures using stainless steel, aluminum, weathering steel, and bronze.
Mr. Warren exhibits his sculptures regularly. Moreover, his photographs from this deployment will become part of exhibitions and articles and will also be used as research material and in lectures and slide talks. He lectures extensively on his work and its implications in venues such as galleries, museums, and schools and maintains a comprehensive Web site to show and explicate his work (http://art-farm.net). (W–217–M; NSF/OPP 04–41979)
In Cold Pursuit.
Sarah Andrews has been a geologist, teacher, and writer for some 30 years and has written 11 previous science-based mystery novels. During this deployment, she will be assisting geologists at a field camp in Antarctica to gather background and information for a book tentatively titled In Cold Pursuit. In this book, her protagonist, geologist-sleuth Em Hansen, travels to Antarctica with a forensic team to investigate the fate of a fictional explorer and finds herself on the trail of murder in the coldest place on Earth.
By drawing on her collaborative work with her geologist colleagues as she researches her novels, Ms. Andrews is able to present not only current scientific knowledge, but also the benefits that earth science professionals provide to society and culture. In Cold Pursuit will highlight U.S. antarctic research and communicate its value to the public in an easily understood, appealing, and compelling form appropriate for adult and young adult (ages 12 and up) readers. Her inquiring mind and scientific bent will give readers a scientist's view of life and research on the ice continent. She increases the impact, outreach, and integration of her work with a Web site (www.sarahandrews.net), and, by talking both to her colleagues and to the lay public, she helps build a bridge between science and its beneficiaries. (W–218–M; NSF/OPP 04–40665)
Images from a frozen continent.
J. Alan Campbell.
Mr. Campbell is no stranger to Antarctica. He made his first trip there in 1987–1988. The following year, he went to Palmer Station, and in 1994, he sailed on the research ship Nathaniel B. Palmer. During their 2-month deployment, he, together with his son and colleague Mr. Colin Campbell, will paint and take photographs. Mr. Colin Campbell will be working as a field assistant and associate researcher/artist producing his own body of work for joint exhibitions. Their artwork will include images of the landscape, wildlife, and light of Antarctica and portraits of support personnel and scientists.
Before flight operations begin, they will seek to accompany flagging and reconnaissance parties, search and rescue teams, field camp construction teams, and other nonscience teams out of McMurdo Station. In collaboration with photographer Ann Hawthorne (W_224–M), they also plan a 4- to 6-week field camp on the fast ice at Erebus Bay, Backdoor Bay, or North Bay. When flight operations begin in early October, they plan short trips to the rim of Mount Erebus and to a number of locations on Ross Island, including the Emperor penguin rookery at Cape Crozier.
Following these trips, they plan one or more field camps for the Taylor, Beacon, or Wright Valleys. In late October, a 2-day camp at Cape Royds will be followed by a 2-day camp at Cape Evans for extensive photography, drawing, and painting of the exteriors and interiors of the historic huts left by early explorers, as well as the surrounding terrain.
This deployment will produce drawings, watercolors, and oil paintings that tell the story of a full austral summer season in Antarctica. This collaboration between art and science will help expand public understanding of the region and the research and will be central to the exhibitions, publications, and publicity flowing from the project. Exhibitions in New Zealand and the United States, as well as two books, are planned. (W–219–M; NSF/OPP 04–40702)
Antarctica: The frozen desert.
Most people do not realize that Antarctica is a desert. By photographing the most unusual aspects of this dry landscape, Mr. Steinmetz hopes to convey to the public a new perspective of the arid beauty of Antarctica and the significance of its changing climate. To illustrate Antarctica's similarity to other deserts, he will pay particular attention to the great variety of arid features in the Dry Valleys (dunes, wind-eroded rock formations, patterned ground, nunataks, salt lakes) and some unique sites on Ross Island.
To take advantage of the low angle of early-season light, he plans to start with aerial photographs of the Dry Valleys and the summit of Mount Erebus. He is also interested in photographing the historic huts left by early explorers, to show how cold, arid conditions preserve the past, and the mega-dunes of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.
He plans to accompany scientists to their camps and research sites to document their work, to draw on their expertise in understanding desert processes, and to give a human scale to remote areas.
Mr. Steinmetz has spent the past 7 years photographing hyperarid deserts for National Geographic and GEO magazine. His work in Antarctica will be published next year by GEO magazine in Germany and France, Smithsonian magazine, and WashingtonPost.com. (W–222–M)
Field guide to antarctic features: McMurdo Sound region.
Lawrence J. Conrad and Ann Hawthorne.
This project involves taking ground-view photographs of named geographic features close to McMurdo Station. The photographs will be used to illustrate a geographically arranged, historical gazetteer that will be published in print and online versions. During the 2003–2004 field season, Mr. Conrad and photographer Ann Hawthorne worked from McMurdo Station during August, September, and October. In November and December, they traveled with and photographed mountaineers—most notably, Louis Sass—during a traverse ranging from McMurdo, north of Granite Harbor to Cape Ross via the Miller and Debenham Glaciers, and then south to the Koettlitz Glacier and up the Ferrar and Taylor Glaciers to Turnabout Glacier.
Weather and terrain precluded complete photographic coverage of several areas during the earlier deployment. In the 2005-6 season, Ms. Hawthorne will finish taking pictures of Ross Island and the Dry Valleys and of sites along the coastal area between the Ferrar Glacier and Mount Morning. (W–224–M)
The Scientific Method: Poems of Antarctic Inquiry.
Kathleen M. Heideman.
Ms. Heideman's objective is to move the public's understanding of Antarctica beyond the historic photographs of polar explorers to the particulars of modern antarctic science. Her project will result in a rich body of poems that ponder, celebrate, and explicate the questions posed by current research. Using McMurdo Station as a base, she will travel to scientific sites and camps (Long-Term Ecological Research sites, the Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory and Laboratory, the Dry Valleys, South Pole Station) to conduct poetic field research by observing science in the field, conversing with scientists working in various disciplines, and engaging in private reflection. Additional poems, inspired by the landscape itself, will be written in the voice of the antarctic terrain: That is, they will be conversations between the landscape and all who would approach it. She proposes to use her poetry as a sort of information filer to discern meaningful connections.
Her poetry draws on formal hypotheses, informal notes, factoids, concept maps, scientific texts, and the modern aesthetics of fragmentation, collaboration, specialization, and human curiosity. Ms. Heideman is keenly interested in the metaphors of Antarctica-as-database and database-as-poetic-form, as well as in the use of data visualization tools. She will log all geographic coordinates gathered throughout her project in order to later map them with their source texts/media to form an interactive, database-driven poetic map of Antarctica. (W–227–M; NSF/OPP 04–40619)
Extra 4 days in McMurdo to Shoot Video to Supplement W0–220–0 (2001).
Henry J. Kaiser.
Henry J. Kaiser, composer and guitarist, is creating original music inspired by being in Antarctica in 2001 under the auspices of the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. His photography and videography will help establish the context of the music, which is intended to reach audiences that might not otherwise pay attention to antarctic research.
He was obliged to curtail his 2001 visit because of an injury. He did separate work in Antarctica in 2004 with a research group headed by Samuel S. Bowser, of the New York State Department of Health (B–015–M). Mr. Kaiser needed an extra 4 days in McMurdo Station to complete the videography for the work begun in 2001.
A Season at Palmer.
Mr. Montaigne, a Pulitzer Prize nominee with a strong background in writing about science, will write a book that tells the story of ecologist William Fraser's life and work by chronicling a season in the field with him at Palmer Station, Antarctica. Dr. Fraser has spent a lifetime studying the population changes resulting from the effects of global warming on the Adélie penguin. Mr. Montaigne will follow the birding team from the moment the penguins show up to nest in October until the last fledged chicks head out to sea in late February. He hopes to paint a portrait of a dedicated field biologist, the breathtaking place at the heart of this scientist's work, and the changes affecting the lives of creatures there as a result of rapid warming. The intent is to put a human, and animal, face on climate change—a situation that has left many people perplexed and resigned.
The book is intended for a lay audience, and the story serves as a narrative line on which important issues relating to science, philosophy, and the environment are suspended. The book should have a broad impact and is likely to draw in readers who previously have had little or no interest in Antarctica or climate change.