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Image: Painting from Zaria Forman of the Getz Ice Shelf in Antarctica viewed from above

Zaria Forman’s Massive Glacier Portraits Inspire Love for Unseen Landscapes

This article was originally published on August 15, 2018.

When you’re able to see something that few others have the chance to, how you choose to share that experience has the power to change perceptions.

Zaria Forman’s work is doing just that.

Zaria Forman, a pastel artist based in Brooklyn, New York, had the opportunity to fly with NASA’s Operation IceBridge to experience one of the most endangered corners of our planet. Below isn’t a photograph, but just one example of her ability to capture the glacial world in breathtaking detail for us all.

Image: Painting from Zaria Forman of the Getz Ice Shelf in Antarctica viewed from above

Getz Ice Shelf, Antarctica, 74° 45′ 57.708″S 133° 50′ 54.8448″W
40 x 60 inches
Soft pastel on paper
Courtesy of Zaria Forman

But before we get into her experience with NASA, I think we all need just one more example of her gorgeous drawings. Just look at this time-lapse of her recreation of Whale Bay in Antarctica!

Via: Zaria Forman 1

What Happens When NASA Meets Art

When NASA offered Zaria Forman the chance to join them on their Operation IceBridge, she almost didn’t believe them. This was an opportunity to view glaciers from above as they flew over Antartica and Greenland to collect data on the status of the ice shelves.

Since her trip, she’s been working to share her experience with them and bring us all along for the wonder found in the majesty of these ice formations.

“I’m trying to recreate these landscapes in all of their minute detail. That’s why I draw them at such a large scale, so that I can imbue them with as much detail as I possibly can and show people something they’ve never seen before, but that does affect their everyday lives in a more abstract way.

I try to portray the beauty of these places, not the destruction, so we can fall in love with how insanely gorgeous these places are. The hope is that seeing the work will help make an emotional connection and spur positive action.” 2 

When Art and Science Intersect

If there’s one thing we can learn from our time spent on this planet, it’s that everything is connected. What’s happening in Greenland and other areas of the Arctic may seem far away from you, but in reality, it’s taking a toll on our lives that just isn’t visible to us quite yet.

But these connections go further than that.

What we’ve seen today, with two seemingly different professions coming together to help one another, can be seen in many, many different scenarios. We’ve written before about athletes teaming up with scientists to collect data around the globe, beautiful artistic formations of bacteria and macro-shots of chemical reactions bringing more interest to the sciences, an artist coming together with a scientist to fight pollution in rivers, and falcons helping us protect our airplanes.

With so many possible connections, there’s bound to be someone out there who can influence whatever you’re working on. Sometimes, we simply need each other to progress in ways we couldn’t on our own.

A bonus look at Zaria Forman’s work!

Lucky for us, Zaria has given a TED talk! If you’d like a deeper look at how she’s translating scientific data into a more digestible, emotional, and accessible medium, and what drove her to do so, this is a must see.

Via: TED 3

Make sure you take a moment to check out more of her amazing work featured on her website and Instagram!

And if you’d like to experience it in person, all of the works from the NASA series, including the image of the Getz Ice Shelf we featured above, were included in her solo show with Winston Wächter Fine Art in New York City.

As always, stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” — Albert Einstein 

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  1. “Whale Bay, Antarctica No.4 Timelapse.” Vimeo. Zaria Forman, July 2017. Web. 30 July 2018. <https://vimeo.com/191870008>.
  2. Yoder, Kate. “Zaria Forman Draws the Glaciers We’re Losing.” Grist. Grist, 28 May 2018. Web. 30 July 2018. <https://grist.org/article/zaria-forman-draws-the-glaciers-were-losing/>.[]/ref[

    – Zaria Forman

Statistics tend to have the unfortunate power of throwing most minds into jumbled, confused messes. The more that they’re thrown at us, the more that we don’t, or can’t, listen and comprehend.

So that’s where Zaria comes in…

Her drawings turn the statistics collected by scientists into tangible, in your face, representations of scenarios the majority of the world aren’t privy to. Because if we aren’t seeing what’s happening to the glaciers first hand and having emotional reactions, what’s going to drive us to take action?

In the following short film, Colors of Change from Jenny Nichols, we join Zaria, the IceBridge team, and an Innuit elder for a touching look into what’s happening to the ice, why they’re pulling these statistics, and how her art is bringing it all to us. (If you’re short on time, National Geographic featured a 10-minute version in their Short Film Showcase!)

Via: Jenny Nichols 4“Colors of Change.” Vimeo. Jenny Nichols, 21 June 2018. Web. 30 July 2018. <https://vimeo.com/276302336>.
  • Forman, Zaria. “Drawings That Show the Beauty and Fragility of Earth.” TED: Ideas worth Spreading. TED, Nov. 2015. Web. 30 July 2018. <https://www.ted.com/talks/zaria_forman_drawings_that_show_the_beauty_and_fragility_of_earth?language=en>.
  • Image: Samantha Burns

    Sam Burns

    Former Editor-In-Chief

    Sam wrote and edited hundreds of articles during her time on the Goodness Exchange team from 2016-2021. She wrote about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the Goodness Exchange, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.

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