New Virtual Exhibit Showcases the Relationships of Science and Art in Antarctica

BATON ROUGE, LA—If you can’t go to Antarctica, then Antarctica will come to you. On January 28, 2021, the Antarctic Artists and Writers Collective launches its first online exhibition, Adequate Earth: Artists and Writers in Antarctica, which features works by 13 former participants of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, or AAWP.

The exhibition, Adequate Earth, which takes its title from a book of poetry written and published in the very early days of the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, will run through May 22, 2021, and will be accompanied by a series of eight virtual events. Participating in the events are Louisiana State University researchers Vince LiCata and Patricia A. Suchy.

LiCata, the Louis S. Flowers Professor in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences, and Suchy, an associate professsor in the LSU Department of Communication Studies, will partake in a panel discussion after a virtual screening of Herbert Ponting’s 1924 film, The Great White Silence. The screening and discussion will take place Thursday, Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. central time via Zoom—registration required—and Facebook Live. Available space is limited.

The documentary features sequences taken during the Terra Nova Expedition of 1910 to 1913. The expedition was an ambitious embarkment to Antarctica, aiming to explore the uncharted lands, to conduct scientific studies, and to solidify British explorer Robert Falcon Scott as the first person to reach the South Pole. Originally a silent film, the piece was restored and re-released in 2011 by the British Film Institute to include a musical soundtrack.

LiCata, whose research primarily revolves around the studies of protein systems, and Suchy are no stranger to the SciArt movement.

The researchers previously worked on a NSF Artists and Writers project called “Persistence of Vision: Antarctica.” The pair worked with scientists and staff at McMurdo Station in Antarctica to recreate modern versions of some of the most iconic photography of the Antarctic continent taken 100-plus years ago.

Like the researchers’ previous work, the upcoming virtual exhibitions will showcase unique interpretations of the wild and scientific elements found on Earth’s most mysterious continent. One exhibit, Form, Pattern, and Materiality: Antarctic Landscape(s) and Sculptural Practices, will showcase an examination into the recreation of ventifacts—stones shaped by erosion—using 3D printing in order to investigate the unique material and formal qualities of geological features in Antarctica. These sculptural installations make the Antarctic landscape more accessible and tangible.

Several featured scientific composers and musicians have also uniquely adapted the “silence” of Antarctica’s natural landscape into performances that will be featured in the exhibit, Antarctica: Music from the End of the World.

The Antarctic Artists and Writers Collective was founded in 2020 to inspire and educate the public about Antarctica and advocate for its vital role in understanding the world we live in.

Since the early 1980s, over 120 writers, visual artists, composers, and performers have been selected by the National Science Foundation to work alongside scientists at one of the three United States research stations in Antarctica.

As participants of the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, they gain firsthand experience of the only continent with no permanent inhabitants, often dubbed "the continent of science" for the variety of research projects undertaken there. Without the disruption of human activity, Antarctica acts as a natural laboratory, where geological, ecological, and climatic changes are observed through in-depth, long-term studies.

Bringing their unique perspectives and diverse practices, the artists take inspiration from the history of Antarctic exploration, scientific discoveries, and the unique landscape, to create works in response to the continent’s extreme and cognitively challenging environment.

Many projects that started on “the Ice” and in the framework of the AAWP have continued to develop long after their authors’ return from Antarctica and have encouraged far-reaching conversations about the meaning of the continent in the past, the present, and the future.