Just in time for the holidays we are hosting a beautiful, wintry,
glittery art exhibition that carries an important message about our planet’s
majestic frozen landscapes. That message is: Ice matters, and the Earth’s
icy places are rapidly changing.
The City’s Whatcom Museum is proud to host Vanishing Ice: Alpine and
Polar Landscapes in Art 1775-2012, an exceptional exhibition uniting
the arts, science, history and civic engagement in its examination of ice,
culture and climate change.
First and foremost, this show is a tribute to the beauty and majesty of
the ice and its influence on the history of art, science, literature and
exploration. It is the nation’s most comprehensive exhibition about the
legacy of ice – glaciers, icebergs, sea ice and more – and the role that
Earth’s icy landscapes have played in the world’s cultural, scientific and
economic development. Vanishing Ice provides visitors an
opportunity to experience landscapes that have inspired artists, writers and
naturalists for more than two hundred years.
Through the eyes of contemporary and historical artists, Vanishing
Ice encourages us to value the preservation of alpine and polar
environments for the well-being of nature and culture. Dozens of special
events featuring nationally renowned artists, scientists and authors
accompany the exhibit, expanding on the visual feast that Vanishing Ice
A visual feast
Among the 90 beautiful, inspiring images in Vanishing Ice is my
personal favorite: an oil painting by Alexis Rockman called “Adelies,”
featuring a flock of Antarctic Adelies penguins atop an iceberg, the
distinguished little seabirds dwarfed by the enormous and beautifully
illustrated block of ice. It is an exceptional work of art. I love the
penguins, and the quality of how Rockman painted the ice. Like many others
in the show, this piece has been reproduced in print materials but is more
striking in person.
The entire exhibition can be viewed online, the first time the Whatcom
Museum has made a full show accessible to the public electronically. But
this is a collection that is best viewed in person, and being there allows
visitors to take advantage of the many events and activities being held in
conjunction with this show.
For example, the popular “Saturdays on Ice” on Dec. 7 features Family
Activity Day, with reduced admission campus-wide and activities for every
age, followed on Sunday Dec. 8 with a presentation by Dr. Henry Pollack,
Nobel Peace Prize recipient and author of A World Without Ice. These are
just two of the many ways families can engage with Vanishing Ice. A
full calendar of events can be found on the show website at
www.vanishing-ice.org, and many
of the featured presentations will be available on video and shown on BTV10.
Why ice matters
Vanishing Ice offers a unique perspective on the importance of
ice, with works of art supplemented by exhibition pieces, events and
activities designed to help answer the question: “Why does ice matter?” As
the information panels in the Vanishing Ice display explain, ice
plays a key role in making Earth a hospitable place for life by helping
regulate our climate. Mountain glaciers, seasonal sea ice, and the deep
piles of ice on Greenland and Antarctica prevent the world from overheating.
Artist’s images and scientific data reveal that glaciers, sea ice and ice
sheets are rapidly changing. A world without ice holds profound consequences
for plant and animal habitats as well as human culture. By highlighting the
importance of alpine and polar landscapes in Western art, Vanishing Ice
aspires to kindle a personal connection to these regions along with an
active commitment to their preservation.
Popular exhibition with national impact
More than 4,000 people visited Vanishing Ice in its first month
at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building. It has generated a great deal
of interest locally, regionally and beyond, receiving excellent reviews and
national and international media attention. We expect more in the weeks and
months ahead, as the show will remain at the Whatcom Museum until March 2,
2014. After concluding its debut in Bellingham, Vanishing Ice will
travel to The El Paso Museum of Art in Texas and the McMichael Canadian Art
Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada. Meanwhile, museums across North
America have expressed interest in hosting this inspiring show.
Vanishing Ice was organized by the Whatcom Museum and curated by
Dr. Barbara Matilsky with the support of the Whatcom Museum Board of
Directors, Executive Director Patricia Leach, and Museum staff, volunteers
and donors. Major funding for the exhibition and related materials was
provided by The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the National Endowment
for the Arts, with additional support from The Norcliffe Foundation, the
Washington State Arts Commission, the City of Bellingham, and Furthermore: a
program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.
Our community is known for its leadership in promoting civic dialogue
about climate change and taking steps to address it. We are proud to host
this unique and thought-provoking exhibit in Bellingham, and deeply thankful
to the many community partners, sponsors and donors who have helped make it