American, b. 1964
Sea ice from Antarctica’s Ross Sea, sediment from the Dry Valleys, and mixed media on paper
(created on-site at McMurdo Station, Ross Island, Antarctica)
12 x 9 in. (30.5 x 22.9 cm)
Whatcom Museum, Gift of the artist and Juan Carlos Espinosa, 2013.19.1
Xavier Cortada extends the tradition of Earth art into the Southern Continent. As a participant in the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, he journeyed to the ice in 2007.
Cortada makes “ice paintings” by combining traditional media with ice from the Ross Sea and sediment gathered by scientists from Antarctica’s Dry Valleys. Applying an initial layer of paint to the paper, the artist then sprinkles particles of sediment. He uses ice as a brush, working the mixture into the surface.
Through repeated layers, Cortada creates abstract compositions that physically embody the continent.
Although abstract, they suggest the movement of ice. The titles, such as Astrid, were randomly selected from Antarctica’s geographic features, further embedding the work in site.