Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


© Ricardo Matias, Jukes Liu, Linde van Bets, Henrik Christiansen, Quentin Jossart (left to right)

Since September Polar Week 2019, we have been showcasing a selection of artists working across a variety of media and focusing on polar regions in their work. Through their interviews, we discussed where Polar artists draw their inspiration, which media best captures the stunning and complex landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic, and the themes that pop up throughout their interaction with polar regions. We also discussed engagement between polar researchers and art. 

Polar Art: Inuit Lady

Panínguak Kjærulff Maria PolarArtBlog PolarWeekMar2020Name: Maria Panínguak` Kjærulff


Instagram: @inuitlady

What medium do you work in? How did you choose that medium?

I work with charcoal and acrylic, drawing, ink and watercolors. I love drawing, so it was natural for me to continue with that medium. Acrylic is good because it dries fast and I can work in layers. Watercolors have been my medium of choice for the past ten years, because it is something I can work with at home, without making a mess and without requiring the large studio needed for working with acrylics.   

How and why did you decide to focus on the polar regions in your work? 

Because it is my home. 

What polar themes or imagery do you typically focus on? 

Panínguak Kjærulff Maria PolarArtBlog PolarWeekMar2020 4I don’t tie myself down to one subject, or limit myself in that way—but I have painted polar bears in regard to climate change: I have painted images with polar bears and ice melting on a 21-foot container, on a tiny stamp, and on a canvas painting that was donated for a good cause. 

When I was part of the Environmental Sculpture Biennale in Finland, I worked with what was available in stones and nature and flowers to create an environmentally sustainable piece, I called “Igloo Ruin”. …The work takes a stand towards climate change as a future flash into the past. An eternal igloo is built of stone that will not melt. A perennial Greenlandic white flower grows around the work; and a myth from time immemorial is connected to picking it up: do not pick the flower, so that it will not begin to rain. Amidst big trees, the igloo is like a holy place of nature.” (source: -

Panínguak Kjærulff Maria PolarArtBlog PolarWeekMar2020 3In my recent work of graphic watercolors with Inuit cultural icons, I have painted a series of ‘Inuit Lady’s with Greenlandic flora. And also a rare orchid that grows a few places in Greenland. A recent painting included two narwhals. (At the same time they were released, the hunting on narwhals on the East coast of Greenland was a focus in the news, with biologists warning that the high quota for hunting narwhals threatens their existence.) 

Have you exhibited your artwork in-person or online somewhere recently or have an upcoming exhibition? 

Yes, I have exhibited my artwork in several galleries and museums in Greenland, the Nordic Countries, as well as Canada and the US. I participate in annual group exhibitions with The Associations of Artists in Greenland, KIMIK. This year, the show is in May in the Cultural House of Greenland, Katuaq. My recent work with the ‘Inuit Lady’ was portrayed in a book published in Korea by author Kim Insuk.

Do you have any advice for polar scientists and researchers who might like to engage more with using art to share their results and research? 

Visual images have a strong power to convey information. Choosing indigenous and local artist that experience the changes in the polar regions on a daily basis is a way of acknowledging their hands-on experiences with the region, culture and climate. They know things that you can’t necessarily measure or read anywhere. Giving them a voice will get you further and cooperating will give you both insights into unique worlds. 

What reactions do you often receive to your art?

Panínguak Kjærulff Maria PolarArtBlog PolarWeekMar2020 2With my large painting on the 21-foot container, the local people of Greenland associated the swimming polar bears with a spiritual dreamy take on the animal, which I enjoyed. The Inuit Ladies are popular in that it is a new take on cultural images with a fresh twist. Another reaction is that people wish for me to go further than Greenland with my work. Beyond this small community. 

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the polar regions today? 

Global warming, information and education. In regard to the narwhals being overhunted, I find a clash between culture and facts. There is a lot of emotions and identity tied with old traditions, that are sensitive and risky for politicians to deal with, if they want to take the sustainable and responsible choices needed. Another big concern is all the social problems that need a great change of focus and structure, in order to really deal with and get to the root of the problems. It’s deep and connects to everything else in life here: families, schools, education, jobs, drugs, motivation, empowerment, etc. 

Do you have a favourite fellow polar (or nature) artist? 

I have admiration for many of my fellow artists in all fields, local as well as abroad. To me, it is people made of the same lump of clay as myself. The favourites are those, who manage to speak to my heart and values with humility and kindness. Respecting others and themselves. That is an art in itself. 

Please provide a website that features your work and social media handles to share with our public. Thank you!

Maria Panínguak` Kjærulff

Facebook: @mariakjaerulffofficialpage

Facebook/Instagram: @mariagreenlandart

Facebook/Instagram: @inuitlady

© All pictures created by Maria Panínguak` Kjærulff

Polar Art: La Reina

Name: La Reina (Natalia Lopez)Natalia Lopez


Instagram: @lareinaunica

We are celebrating September Polar Week 2019 showcasing world-class artists working across a variety of media and focusing on polar regions in their work. The following artist is known is her motherland Colombia as ‘La Reina’, a pseudonym adopted by Natalia Lopez. La Reina travelled to Antarctica with the Colombian Antarctic National Programme; her project Detenerse a respirar al final del mundo (“Stop to breathe at the end of the world”) was her maiden voyage to the White Continent. La Reina’s interview is only available in her native tongue, Spanish. Disfrutenla!  

Cual es el medio que empleas para tus expresiones artísticas? Por que lo has elegido?

Uso diferentes medios, el concepto de la obra o el proyecto me llevan a escoger el medio, pero sí tengo más afinidad por la video-instalación, aunque también trabajo mucho dibujo, fotografía, intervenciones objetuales, por ejemplo. En el caso del video, normalmente lo selecciono porque encuentro en él la posibilidad de comunicar una idea donde la imagen, el sonido (o su ausencia) y el tiempo, me permiten transmitir de manera poética mis emociones frente a esa idea.

Natalia Lopez Polar Art BlogComo y porque decidiste enfocar tu trabajo artístico en las regiones polares?

Desde que era niña existe en mí un encanto por las zonas polares, particularmente por la Antártida, creo que tiene que ver con lo inhóspito, y con la estética del frío (blancos, azules, grises, poco ruido visual y sonoro). La sensación de soledad y de confín, me han atraído siempre, pero aparte de eso tengo una relación muy fuerte con el medio ambiente, un amor extremo por la naturaleza y siento que aquellos ecosistemas que, aunque sean muy fuertes, se caracterizan por su fragilidad (polos, páramos (acá me refiero a los ecosistemas de alta montaña presentes en Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador y Perú y que representan nuestras "fábricas" de agua), nevados, etc), requieren una atención particular y generan en mí mayor necesidad de trabajar sobre ellos, de visibilizarlos, de sensibilizar al público sobre estas fragilidades y sobre su importancia para el planeta. 

Cuales son las temáticas polares y/o imágenes en las que centras tu trabajo?

Básicamente quisiera transmitir el espíritu, el alma de estos lugares. Y para ello hablo de diferentes elementos, en el proyecto DETENERSE A RESPIRAR AL FINAL DEL MUNDO habló sobre la importancia del agua dulce, del frío, del corazón de la Antártida y lo transmito por medio de acciones poéticas presentadas como video-instalaciones. En el proyecto DETALLE: UN RETRATO AL FINAL DEL MUNDO hablo de la Antártida desde otra perspectiva, desde la relación humana frente a ella, cuento a manera de bitácora expuesta en instalación de fotografías, objetos y vídeos, los detalles que no se ven en documentales, las particularidades que sólo vemos quienes hemos estado allá y dentro de estas particularidades, también los daños ambientales que estamos generando, pero ante todo hago una reflexión, por medio de vídeos que son una poematización de entrevistas, sobre el amor al sexto continente desde la relación y sensibilidad de quienes la hemos habitado.

Natalia Lopez Polar Art Blog2Has realizado exhibiciones de tu trabajo en persona o en línea recientemente, o estas preparándote para alguna exhibición? Donde y cuando?

He realizado varias exposiciones sobre mi trabajo en La Antártida. La primera fue en KB ESPACIO PARA EL ARTE en Bogotá donde realicé una exposición individual llamada DETENERSE A RESPIRAR AL FINAL DEL MUNDO que consistía en una vídeo instalación (seis vídeos y objetos) sobre mi primer residencia artística en bases argentinas. Luego en SIN TÍTULO GALERÍA presenté una exposición individual de fotografía llamada INTERVENCIÓN, ESCULTURA Y PINTURA SOBRE CONTINENTE BLANCO enfocada en relacionar estos aspectos de la creación artística con los paisajes antárticos. Luego en PERMANENTE ESPACIO DE ARTE presenté un vídeo que muestra pictóricamente las corrientes que afectan a La Antártida y como se relacionan con el resto del mundo, se presentó allí en una exposición colectiva y este año en otra colectiva llamada el MAPA NO ES EL TERRITORIO en el espacio de arte ESTUDIO 74, el link del vídeo es este

También a partir de esta primera residencia artística, desarrollé el proyecto DE POLO A POLO con el artista Miler Lagos, que consistía en una gran video-instalación donde 22 videos del Ártico (realizados por él) y la Antártida creaban un diálogo a través de un recorrido inmersivo, está exposición se presentó en Bogotá, en los talleres de arte LAS NIEVES y en la galería PROCESO de Cuenca, Ecuador.

Después de mi segunda residencia artística, en una base antártica ecuatoriana, realicé la exposición individual DETALLE: UN RETRATO AL FINAL DEL MUNDO en PERMANENTE ESPACIO DE ARTE el año pasado durante las ferias de arte de Bogotá, lo que implicó un flujo altísimo de público nacional e internacional y dos de los vídeos de esta exposición serán presentados pronto en Guayaquil, Ecuador.

La mayoría de mis obras se pueden encontrar en mi página web o en mi cuenta de Vimeo

Tienes algún consejo para investigadores y científicos polares que tengan interés en incorporar arte para compartir y publicar los resultados de sus trabajos de investigación?

Sí, que no basta con retratar los paisajes, su fauna o su flora, hay que ser más profundos y poéticos, no es fácil lograr conmover hasta las lágrimas, pero se logra, yo lo he hecho y eso para mí ha sido la prueba que que todo el esfuerzo ha valido la pena. Hay que ser inteligentes y asertivos, no nos podemos quedar en un discurso simplemente de denuncia o en imágenes preciosistas, hay que llegar al alma, hay que hacer pensar y sentir al público y para eso hay que amar hasta los huesos el lugar sobre el que se trabaja.

Cuales son las reacciones del publico mas frecuentes cuando ven tu trabajo artístico?

Normalmente la gente se me acerca diciendo que se sensibilizaron mucho con lo que estoy transmitiendo, con la manera de hacerlo, me preguntan luego muchas cosas, por ejemplo con las obras sobre medio ambiente, me preguntan por mi vivencia, por las especificidades del lugar o por particularidades ambientales, generalmente quedan muy conmovidos y ha sucedido en varias ocasiones que se "masajean" el pecho diciendo que sintieron algo muy profundo (me parece extraño pero ya he visto ese gesto en varias personas hablando de mis obras sobre el medio ambiente). También, con obras sobre el medio ambiente y otras que hablan sobre el amor, se me han acercado con lágrimas en los ojos agradeciéndome por haberles logrado transmitir sentimientos tan fuertes. Creo que estas reacciones, en momentos muy duros en que siento que no doy más - por lo difícil que es hacer arte - son las que me hacen seguir adelante, luchando a pesar de la cantidad de dificultades y me hace seguir creyendo en que el arte vale la pena.

Sé que algo estoy aportando al mundo si por medio de una obra puedo transmitir un mensaje y sensibilizar aunque sea a una persona.

En tu opinión, cuales son los desafíos mas grandes que enfrentan las regiones polares en la actualidad?

Los desafíos más grandes son los intereses políticos y económicos (claramente estos van de la mano) de los gobiernos del mundo. Es una verdad que todo el planeta se encuentra en un momento crítico donde el daño que se ha causado y las consecuencias de la forma en que vive el ser humano son catastróficas, pero aunque cada vez se cree más conciencia y haya más movimientos en búsqueda de la protección del medio ambiente, si los intereses políticos y económicos de los países, no cambia, en función de la equidad, de la empatía, la compasión y el amor por el otro (humano, animal, planta, roca, etc.), no habrá cambios reales que puedan revertir todo este daño. Las zonas polares son en las que los daños pueden llegar a percibirse más claramente, porque son lugares prístinos que lo evidencian en mayor medida, además de que el agua dulce contenida en ellos es como el oasis que vemos que está disminuyendo y por eso las consecuencias, principalmente en la fauna, son muy claras; por eso las políticas de protección a las zonas polares deberían ser más fuertes, por ejemplo el turismo en la Antártida, el ser humano es tan egoísta que sólo piensa en su disfrute y no en el daño que causa al ir, esto a pequeña escala, a gran escala, las pesqueras que saquean los mares árticos y antárticos responden también a intereses económicos egoístas y deberían estar prohibídas. En fin, creo que si las políticas gubernamentales no fueran egoístas, en búsqueda de poder y riqueza, educarían sociedades solidarias y amorosas que no necesitarían del consumismo para intentar ser felices y sin consumismo, el planeta se salvaría.

Tienes un colega artista (polar o no) favorito?

Mi artista polar favorito es Guido van der Werve, es un artista y cineasta holandés, sus vídeos es el polo norte son majestuosos.

También la artista holandesa Esther Kokmeijer me parece muy interesante, sobre todo por su relación afectiva en sus proyectos.

@ all photos taken by Natalia Lopez

Polar Art: Helene Girard

For September Polar Week 2019, we are showcasing a selection of artists working across a variety of media and focusing on polar regions in their work. Stay tuned for more artist blogs over the week!

Helene GirardName: Helene Girard
Facebook: Art Helene Girard
Instagram: @arthelenegirard

Helene is an acrylics-based artist who focuses on the landscapes of the Northwest Territories and Nunavik. In this blog post, she talks polar inspiration, luminosity and climate change.

What medium do you work in? How did you choose that medium?

Working in acrylics. I have tried other mediums in the past and acrylic has stayed with me for many years now. This is the best medium for working from great surface to tiny details.

deepwaterHow and why did you decide to focus on the polar regions in your work?

I have lived up north for over 25 years. First in the Northwest Territories (NWT), and in Nunavik for a short while and now living in Fort Smith NWT. The north seems to be calling me and it is an endless inspiration for my art.

What polar themes or imagery do you typically focus on?

I focus on landscape mostly but also experience with the world of aviation in relation to the northern regions. Some wildlife and the life of the people around me.

Do you have any advice for polar scientists and researchers who might like to engage more with using art to share their results and research?

Art touches the heart and the soul of people. The combination of these 2 worlds can only be successful. Winning the attention with 2 different mediums combined.

Les bleu de larctiqueWhat reactions do you often receive to your art?

Luminosity. People ask how can this be so clear and luminous. Come live in the north and you will see.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the polar regions today?

Of course we all know about the changes in the climate and just from living all those years in the north, I have already experienced some of the effects of the warming of our planet. On the wildlife, the people and the land. My challenge as and artist is to show the beauty of our regions by winning their hearts and souls. A drop in the bucket to bring sensitivity. To make people realize what is at stake.

© all photos created by Helene Girard

Polar Art: Adele Jackson

For September Polar Week 2019, we are showcasing a selection of artists working across a variety of media and focusing on polar regions in their work, starting with Adele Jackson. Stay tuned for more artist blogs over the week!

Adele Jackson KopieName: Adele Jackson
Twitter: @antarcticartist
Instagram: @adelejackson

Adele is an environmental artist based in New Zealand. She uses a variety of media, including solography, sculpture and poetry to capture the dynamic environmental and cultural landscape of Antarctica.

What medium do you work in? How did you choose that medium?

For me, the choice of medium develops out of the idea behind the artwork. Here are a few examples:

The artwork Message Cylinders is comprised of aluminium containers protecting poems, which are encased in sealed cylindrical glass vessels. The aluminium case is an echo of both early polar exploration message cylinders and the containers used to store ice cores. The sealed glass vessel is a metaphor for both the ice cores and the air bubbles extracted by scientists to analyse past climate conditions. The encased poems speak of global atmospheric circulation over millennia.

In Antarctic Sun Lines, I use pinhole cameras to create long exposure solargraph images. The sun, the tilt and rotation of the Earth, and the polar location are active in creating the artwork. The work explores the dynamics and role that the sun and the Antarctic-driven climate and ocean systems have in supporting live on Earth.

Recently I have been developing ideas for sculptures using cast iron to explore marine ecosystem primary production; and sculptural textiles to explore structures in moss growth.

Ushuaia ARGENTINA KopieHow and why did you decide to focus on the polar regions in your work?

I am interested in the environment and human relationships with the natural world. I find Antarctica’s environmental, geopolitical, and cultural connections with the wider world an extremely interesting space and place for critical enquiry.

What polar themes or imagery do you typically focus on?

Exploring interconnections, interdependence, and an Earth systems way of thinking is what motivates me. I am not limited to a particular theme or type of imagery in my work. My interests are broad.

Have you exhibited your artwork in-person or online somewhere recently or have an upcoming exhibition?

The first of a series of Antarctic Sun Lines solar-powered artworks will be displayed at Christchurch Art Gallery / Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Aotearoa / New Zealand from 1st - 6th October 2019 as part of the city’s Antarctic season opening programme. There are plans in development to present a larger exhibition of the Antarctic Sun Lines work at the SCAR / COMNAP 2020 conference in Hobart, Tasmania in July- August 2020.

Do you have any advice for polar scientists and researchers who might like to engage more with using art to share their results and research?
I would encourage scientists, researchers and artists to have conversations, talk about ideas, and explore possibilities to develop collaborative projects. I think we need to create opportunities for meaningful meetings between artists and researchers to develop closer research relationships and collaborations.

Base E Stonnington AntarcticaWhat reactions do you often receive to your art?

People have different emotional responses to different artworks. Some artworks such as the The Ice Crystal Library seem to trigger surprise and delight; other work such as Antarctic Sun Lines often triggers curiosity and questions.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the polar regions today?

I think people, and the values that underpin political and economic systems are the biggest challenges that the Polar Regions, and the natural world as a whole, face today. In my opinion, exploitation and destruction of the natural world is a direct consequence of the values driving political and economic decisions. Changing values, changing behaviour, and changing political and economic systems are not easily or quickly achieved, these are huge challenges.

Do you have a favourite fellow polar (or nature) artist?

It is impossible to name one favourite. The work of Chris Drury, Anne Noble, and Lucy + Jorge Orta is very insightful and thought provoking. For me their work stands out as some of the most critically engaging and significant Antarctic artwork of the last 20 years.

@ all photos taken by Adele Jackson


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