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Work Samples

Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell

Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica
"Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica" (2017) 15.5 x 60 x 17.5 inches, acrylic, oil and wax on high-density urethane, at the Trawick Prize 2017 Finalist Exhibition. Sculpture of part of the Canada Glacier in the McMurdo Dry Valleys made from 162 source photos taken on site, including the photo on the wall here (archival pigment print, 32" x 50"). The photos were processed into a 3D file, edited in 3D imaging software, and carved on a CNC (computer-controlled) router. I added additional hand carving and painted it.

Fractal Arch, Erebus Ice Tongue Cave, Antarctica

Fractal Arch, Erebus Ice Tongue Cave, Antarctica
"Fractal Arch, Erebus Ice Tongue Cave," Antarctica (2015), 7 x 10 feet, photograph, on display in 2017 at BWI Airport as part of a series of exhibitions of works by Maryland Artists. The Erebus ice tongue is the end of a glacier that extends onto the sea ice on McMurdo Sound. A small opening in the tongue leads to an ice cave containing unusual and fragile ice crystal structures. It is accessible only a few weeks a year. I entered with a mountaineer. The crystals are lit by a lamp we brought inside, which I directed him to aim in order to backlight the features.

Rest Stop, Isunngua Valley, Greenland

Rest Stop, Isunngua Valley, Greenland
My next project will explore the effects of climate change on Kangerlussuaq, a small Arctic village in Greenland. I'm interested in human interaction and effect on the ecology. Here, a few picnic tables (and a port-a-potty) have been set up along the road through the Isunngua Valley from Kangerlussuaq to the ice cap, as a rest stop for buses ferrying visitors to the ice sheet. I will return there in 2020, with travel funded by a Rubys Award from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation,

Inland Lake, Cape Mercy, Baffin Island

Inland Lake, Cape Mercy, Baffin Island
(2018) photograph. A small inland lake in this isolated cove on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic still had ice floating in it in early August. The U-shaped contour of the hill in the background is a telltale sign that a glacier once passed through. My observations of nature are informed by insights from science on the physical forces that shape landscapes.

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About Helen

Baltimore County

Helen Glazer's picture
Helen Glazer is an artist based in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, producing photographs and photo-based sculptures that explore landscapes that are often overlooked or difficult to access, capturing how they are shaped by wind and water and illuminating the interacting forces affecting environments and ecosystems. A 2015 grantee of the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, she exhibited her Antarctica project in a 2017-18 solo show at Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland,... more

Greenland — Current Project (2018- )

Here are a selection of initial images made during a one-and-a-half-day visit to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, in 2018. The effects of climate change are starkly evident in this small Arctic village. It also has a highly unusual geopolitical history related involving international military and corporate interests. The village is about 19 miles from the ice sheet that covers 80% of Greenland, and the retreat of the ice edge and melting of the permafrost due to a warming climate is obvious. I've obtained a Rubys Award from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation to return there in August 2020 to make an in-depth photo series. I also plan to make 3D files from my still photos via photogrammetry and produce them as sculpture. A screenshot of a 3D file of the Greenland ice sheet that I managed to make during a 45-minute visit there is included among the images here. I will be making photographs and 3D scans of the landscape forms, as I did in Antarctica. My ultimate goal is to produce a photo book and exhibition. I believe that compelling visual images will help bring home the seriousness of the climate change problem and the urgency of the entire world confronting it now. My project will also illuminate a little-known corner of American history related to the American presence in the region.

  • Meltwater Flowing Off Greenland Ice Sheet, Isunngua Valley

    Meltwater Flowing Off Greenland Ice Sheet, Isunngua Valley
    (2018/2019) photograph. Meltwater coming off the Greenland ice sheet begins its journey through the Isunngua Valley toward Kangerlussuaq, which sits at the edge of a fjord some 19 miles away.
  • Road's End, Greenland Ice Sheet

    Road's End, Greenland Ice Sheet
    (2018/2019) photograph. Around 2000, German automakers built a road to the Greenland ice sheet that ended at the ice edge, where they planned to build a track to test drive cars on the ice sheet. The project was aborted in 2006. Due to climate change, the ice has since retreated inland. The road now ends atop a steep, gravel-covered hill that tourists hike down to walk on the ice sheet. Note fallen boulder in center, also seen in the next photo.
  • Melting Permafrost, Greenland Ice Sheet

    Melting Permafrost, Greenland Ice Sheet
    (2018/2019) photograph. As the ice sheet melts, the uncovered layer of permafrost (frozen ground) also melts, accelerating climate change and rising oceans. Our driver told me that earlier that summer this boulder had been upright. One day he found it toppled over on its side after softening ground beneath it collapsed.
  • Makeshift Walkway at the Edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet

    Makeshift Walkway at the Edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet
    Planks form a makeshift walkway leading to the ice sheet edge so tour groups can walk on the ice. The Greenland ice sheet has been gradually retreating over the past decade at an unprecedented rate, exposing the underlying layer of permafrost, which has also begun to melt and turn to mud.
  • Melt Channels, Greenland Ice Sheet

    Melt Channels, Greenland Ice Sheet
    (2018/2019) photograph. Standing on the edge of the vast Greenland Ice Sheet looking inland, streams of melting water are clearly visible.
  • Greenland Ice Sheet 3D Scan Screenshots

    Greenland Ice Sheet 3D Scan Screenshots
    During my brief visit to the Greenland ice sheet I was able to make a 3D scan of a small area using photogrammetry. I plan to make more scans and sculptures of the melting ice sheet and other features when I return in 2020.
  • Glacier Face, Isunngua Valley

    Glacier Face, Isunngua Valley
    (2018/2019) photograph. The imposing face of a glacier in the Isunngua Valley, streaked with gravel, viewed from a rest stop beside the road.
  • Rest Stop, Isunngua Valley, Greenland

    Rest Stop, Isunngua Valley, Greenland
    (2018/2019), photograph. A few picnic tables (and a port-a-potty) have been set up along the road through the Isunngua Valley from Kangerlussuaq to the ice cap, as a rest stop for buses ferrying visitors to the ice sheet.
  • Graffiti, Kangerlussuaq Harbor, Greenland

    Graffiti, Kangerlussuaq Harbor, Greenland
    (2018) photograph. Kangerlussuaq was home to a Cold War-era US Air Force base from the 1940s to 1992, when it was turned over to the Danish governing authority of Greenland. The cliffs beside the harbor are covered with graffiti by American and Danish airmen dating back to the 1950s.
  • Kangerlussuaq Reservoir

    Kangerlussuaq Reservoir
    (2018) photograph. The reservoir is just outside of town. During my upcoming trip I plan to capture scenes that show what life is like in this town of just 550 people.

Canadian Arctic and Greenland (2018)

In summer 2018, I continued my investigation of polar landscapes on a trip to Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic and West Greenland. We visited a different site every day. My next project will zero in on one village, Kangerlussuaq, which is featured in the first project (see the 10 images in the previous set).

  • Towering Icebergs, Davis Strait, Greenland

    Towering Icebergs, Davis Strait, Greenland
    (2018) photograph. "You know that you're looking at something special when even the sailors rush to get their cameras," said one of my fellow passengers. The sailors measured them and said they were 86 meters tall.
  • Lake Ice in August, Cape Mercy, Baffin Island

    Lake Ice in August, Cape Mercy, Baffin Island
    Cape Mercy is the site of a now-defunct vestige of the Cold War, a hilltop monitoring station that was once operated by the US military. This lake, a short hike from the shoreline, still had ice on it in August.
  • Polar Bear Bones and Fur, Cape Mercy, Nunavut

    Polar Bear Bones and Fur, Cape Mercy, Nunavut
    Polar Bear Bones and Fur, Cape Mercy, Baffin Island (2018) The remains of a polar bear that almost certainly died of natural causes and whose corpse was then picked clean by Arctic foxes or vultures — an Inuit hunter would have left nothing behind.
  • Repeating Rectangles, Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland

    Rectangular Rhythms, Qeqertarsuaq, Disko Island, Greenland
    (2018) photograph. Walking uphill from the harbor in Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island in Greenland, I came to the road's end. To my left was a mossy, boggy hillside, studded with rocks. I climbed to the top and found this view of icebergs floating in the distance. I was struck by the underlying geometry of the scene: parallel diagonal rhythms of rocks and shoreline from upper right to lower left, with a perpendicular counter-rhythm from upper left to lower right.
  • House with Eyes, Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland

    House with Eyes, Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland
    House with Eyes, Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland (2018)
  • Turf House, Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland

    Turf House, Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland
    (2018) photograph. Traditional turf house, common housing in Greenland in the first half of the 20th century. Few are left now.
  • Main Road of Pangnirtung

    Main Road of Pangnirtung
    (2018) photograph. Main road of the small Inuit village of Pangnirtung on Baffin Island in Nunavut.
  • Unconscious Emulation, Tour Guide, Ilulissat, Greenland

    Unconscious Emulation, Tour Guide, Ilulissat, Greenland
    (2018) photograph. A tour guide for a group visiting the Ilulissat UNESCO World Heritage Site unwittingly echoes the cairn beside her.
  • Glaucous Gull on Iceberg, Illulisat Icefjord, Greenland

    Glaucous Gull on Iceberg, Illulisat Icefjord, Greenland
    (2018) photograph. A glaucous gull perches on an iceberg with an unusual shape in the Ilulissat Icefjord in West Greenland.
  • Fata Morgana Icebergs, West Greenland

    Fata Morgana Icebergs, West Greenland
    (2018) photograph. A Fata Morgana is a somewhat unusual optical illusion sometimes seen in polar regions that stretches objects on the horizon. At sunset along the West Greenland coast, distant icebergs formed Rorschach blot shapes that seemed to hover above the ocean.

Antarctica Exhibition Installation Photos

Walking in Antarctica is a project of photographs and sculpture by Helen Glazer inspired and informed by her experiences as a grantee of the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Her particular photographic vision, innovative application of emerging 3D technologies, and storytelling skills have enabled her to capture and communicate experiences of remote places that the tourist ships do not reach and few people get to witness in person. Through her artwork, Glazer strives to convey the wonder and complexity of the natural world to others, in order to motivate a desire to protect and preserve wild places.

The images surprise visitors with vivid depictions of richly articulated and colorful environments that counter the common perception of a bleak, white wasteland. The sculptures offer an opportunity to experience the unique polar ice and rock formations from different vantage points as objects in space and are the first, and thus far only, such sculptural works of the Antarctic landscape.

For the last two months of 2015, Glazer worked out of remote Antarctic scientific field camps and had access to protected areas that can only be entered with government permits or in the company of a skilled mountaineer. Insights from Glazer’s research and interactions with scientists enhanced her experience of nature during her residency. She returned with some 5,000 photographs and recorded her experiences in an online journal. Since then, she has been turning that rich cache of raw material into archival pigment prints, sculpture, and an accompanying narrative.

Most of the images shown here were printed in 2016 and 2017. Work on the project is ongoing; other photographs are yet to be printed and other sculptures are in progress. A solo traveling exhibition premiered at Goucher College in 2017-2018 and is shown here. Other images, sculptures and subjects not presented at the original venue could also be included or substituted to tailor the display to a particular site’s space and mission.

Features and interviews about the Goucher College exhibition appeared on On the Record with Sheilah Kast on WYPR, on the website Atlas Obscura, and in Baltimore Magazine, Baltimore Style, and the Baltimore Fishbowl. The project was also featured in the Winter 2018-2019 issue of Adobe 99U, an art and design magazine with both print and online editions.

Antarctica: Sea Ice Formations

The Erebus ice tongue is the end of a glacier that extends onto the sea ice on McMurdo Sound. A small opening in the tongue leads to an ice cave containing unusual and fragile ice crystal structures. It is accessible only a few weeks a year, in the company of a trained mountaineer from the US Antarctic Program, and I was extremely fortunate to visit it twice during my residency in late November and on December 1, 2015, first with a group and then with only myself the mountaineer. Shortly after that, the cave was closed for the season.

The crystals are lit by a lamp we brought inside. You enter the first chamber by sliding through a small opening and down a slight incline on your stomach. Some light filters in through the entrance. Further inside it is pitch black. I found that bouncing lights off the walls or backlighting the features brought them to life in a way that flash photography did not, so I directed the mountaineer to aim the light in different places as I took photographs.

Some of these photos were featured in an article on the Erebus Glacier ice tongue cave on the adventure travel web site AtlasObscura.com in early 2016. Two of them have also been enlarged to 7 x 10 feet and will be installed as part of a series of exhibitions by Maryland artists at BWI Marshall International Airport between June 2017 and June 2018.

The sea ice pressure ridges were on different sections of McMurdo Sound. One was near New Harbor, accessed by a one-hour snowmobile ride from the biology dive camp where I spent a few days in the field. The other pressure ridge I photographed was at Scott Base, operated by the New Zealand Antarctic Program. Three months later, the Scott Base pressure ridges collapsed into the ocean and floated out to sea.

  • Cloudburst, Erebus Ice Tongue Cave, Antarctica

    Cloudburst, Erebus Ice Tongue Cave, Antarctica
    Cloudburst, Erebus Ice Tongue Cave, Antarctica (2015), archival pigment print, 26.75 x 40 inches. Crystals hang from an interior ceiling just inside the cave entrance. The Erebus ice tongue is the end of a glacier that extends onto the sea ice on McMurdo Sound. A small opening in the tongue leads to an ice cave containing unusual and fragile ice crystal structures. It is accessible only a few weeks a year. Further inside, it is pitch dark, but just inside the opening, the ceiling had a blue glow, illuminated by sunlight filtering through the ice.
  • Fractal Arch, Erebus Glacier Ice Tongue Cave

    (2015) photograph. I went in the ice cave with a mountaineer. When I had him bounce light or backlight the features it brought out a world of intricate, layered fractal patterns.
  • Gothic Ice, Backlit, Erebus Glacier Ice Tongue Cave

    (2015) photograph. I went in the ice cave with a mountaineer. When I had him bounce light or backlight the features it brought out a world of intricate, layered fractal patterns.
  • "Stalactites," Erebus Glacier Ice Tongue Cave

    (2015) photograph. I went in the ice cave with a mountaineer. When I had him bounce light or backlight the features it brought out a world of intricate, layered fractal patterns.
  • Blue Fractal, Erebus Glacier Ice Tongue Cave

    (2015) photograph. I went in the ice cave with a mountaineer. When I had him bounce light or backlight the features it brought out a world of intricate, layered fractal patterns.
  • Erebus Ice Tongue Panorama, Antarctica

    Erebus Ice Tongue, Antarctica
    Erebus Ice Tongue, Antarctica (2015) photograph. Photographed from the sea ice looking toward the entrance to the Erebus Ice Tongue cave is marked by a flagged path, roughly in the center of this panorama. In the background is Mt. Erebus, elevation 12,500 ft., the southernmost active volcano.
  • Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Antarctica

    Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Antarctica
    Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Antarctica (2015), photograph, 15 x 22.375 inches. This photo was taken from a hill overlooking the Scott Base pressure ridge. In the distance, on an ice shelf 7 miles away, you can barely make out the planes and buildings of the Williams Airfield, which serves the US and New Zealand bases.
  • Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Antarctica

    Icicles, Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Antarctica
    Icicles, Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Antarctica (2015) photograph, 15.25 x 22.375 inches. Close up of the pressure ridge, showing cantilevered ice pushed by tidal forces beneath the six-foot layer of sea ice. In the Antarctic summer, temperatures sometimes warmed to slightly above freezing, and the ice would melt and refreeze.
  • Pressure Ridge Beneath the Double Curtain Glacier, Antarctica

    Pressure Ridge Beneath the Double Curtain Glacier, Antarctica
    Pressure Ridge Beneath the Double Curtain Glacier, Antarctica (2015) photograph, 26.5 x 40 inches. The pressure ridges beneath the Double Curtain Glacier are seldom visited, as they are only accessible by an hour-long trip via snowmobile from the small New Harbor field camp, where I spent four days. This view overlooks the ridge, the sea ice, and the toe of the Ferrar Glacier in the distance.
  • Rectangular Sea Ice, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

    Rectangular Sea Ice, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica
    Rectangular Sea Ice, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica (2015), photograph, 12 x 18 inches. Photographed from a helicopter in mid-December, the surface of the sound has started to melt during the Antarctic summer, forming remarkably regular rectangular chunks surrounded by blue meltwater. In the distance are the Kukri Hills. The helicopter antennae is in the right foreground. This photograph is on view at the New York Hall of Science through February 2018.

Antarctic Lake Ice

Photographs of the unusual ice formations found in freshwater Antarctic lakes, which are fed by glaciers. These photographs were taken at Cape Royds and at Lake Hoare in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Both areas are only visited by science teams and personnel supporting them. The Dry Valleys is a fragile environment and requires special permission to visit. I spent a week there, including five days at Lake Hoare, as a grantee of the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. My project was to photograph ice and geological formations in order to produce both archival pigment prints and three-dimensional artworks.

  • Skua, Lake Hoare, Antarctica

    Skua, Lake Hoare, Antarctica
    Skua, Lake Hoare, Antarctica (2015), photograph, 17 x 22.375 inches. This ice formation reminded me of a skua, a gull-like bird that was the only wildlife I saw during my stay in Antarctica, aside from seals and penguins.
  • Primary Ice, Lake Hoare, Antarctica

    Primary Ice, Lake Hoare Next to the Canada Glacier, Antarctica
    (2015), photograph, 26.75 x 40 inches. Taken at about 1 a.m. under midnight sun, the lake surface is forming what is called "primary ice" in which crystals branch out, forming relief designs that were lit by the slanting sunlight. The designs remind me of Asian ceramics. The ice is framed by reflections of the Canada Glacier and the blue sky.
  • Loops and Layers, Lake Hoare

    Loops and Layers, Lake Hoare
    Loops and Layers, Lake Hoare (2015) photograph, 26.75 x 40 inches. Thin lake ice formations that formed over sediment that has blown onto the surface of the lake.
  • Vapor Figures and Rainbow, Lake Hoare, Antarctica

    Vapor Figures and Rainbow, Lake Hoare, Antarctica
    Vapor Figures and Rainbow, Lake Hoare, Antarctica (2015) photograph, 26.5 x 40 inches. The white etched designs are called Tyndall figures. This formation is richly textured with Tyndalls, frozen bubbles and a colorful interference pattern upper right.
  • Oblongs, Cape Royds, Antarctica

    Oblongs, Cape Royds, Antarctica
    Oblongs, Cape Royds, Antarctica (2015) photograph, 26.75 x 40 inches. These rounded forms are embedded inside the ice. Glaciologists to whom I showed the photo thought maybe these were formed when a layer of water froze on top of scalloped surface ice, though they said the formations were unusual and unfamiliar.
  • Ice Ribbons, Lake Ice at Cape Royds, Antarctica

    Ice Ribbons, Lake Ice at Cape Royds, Antarctica
    Ice Ribbons, Lake Ice at Cape Royds, Antarctica (2015) photograph, 17 x 24 inches inches. These ribbon-like patterns appear embedded inside the ice of the lake a few feet from the shore. I found them at an inland lake at Cape Royds. I showed them to a group of glaciologists who were in Antarctica studying the sea ice. They were intrigued, though they could not explain the cause.
  • Algal Mat Origami, Cape Royds, Antarctica

    (2015) photograph, 16.75 x 24 inches or 28 x 40 inches. What looks like torn paper is algal mat that has dried and flaked over blue ice. The ice turns blue when all the air is compressed out of it.
  • Sand at Blood Falls, Antarctica

    Sand at Blood Falls, Antarctica
    Sand at Blood Falls, Antarctica (2015) photograph. The wet sand along the shore of Lake Bonney at Blood Falls was colored by striking shades of green and orange from mineral deposits that seep up and stain the ice.
  • Bridge Onto Lake Hoare, Antarctica

    Bridge Onto Lake Hoare, Antarctica
    Bridge Onto Lake Hoare, Antarctica (2015) photograph, 22 x 14.675 inches. When the margin of Lake Hoare melts in the Antarctic summer, the scientists improvise bridges to get onto the ice. This is how I got to the areas I photographed on Lake Hoare for the other photographs of it in this set.
  • Scallopped Sand, Lake Hoare, Antarctica

    Scallopped Sand, Lake Hoare, Antarctica
    Scallopped Sand, Lake Hoare, Antarctica (2015) photograph, 26.75 x 40 inches. Sand in the shadow of the Canada Glacier in Antarctica, a puddle in the center reflecting the clear blue sky of 24-hour daylight at 1:20 a.m.

Antarctica in 3D - Sculptures and Source Photos

Sculptures based on photographs I took in Antarctica as a grantee of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artist and Writers Program. I spent a total of seven weeks at the end of 2015 at the U.S. Antarctic Program's McMurdo Station and at scientific field camps. I have developed an innovative method of producing sculpture true to the complexity of the natural world by employing photogrammetry, a process by which a series of still photos of a scene (or "captures") can be assembled by software into a three-dimensional scan of a scene. The scans become the basis for sculptures made with digital fabrication technologies such as 3D printing or CNC (computer-controlled) routers, a machine that can carve a 3D file in a variety of materials. On the router I typically use high-density urethane foam for its ability to hold detail yet be easily carved later with hand tools. The scan produced by the photogrammetric software is by no means ready for production. A variety of artistic decisions must be made, and small areas of the form that the software could not resolve have to be filled in using 3D modeling software, a painstaking process because the files are extremely complex — each scan consists of some 2 million tiny triangular facets. Once the piece has been carved or printed in sections and glued together, I refine the piece by hand and paint it. I am looking for funding to produce them in higher-quality materials such as cast stone or metal.

  • Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica

    Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica
    Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica (2015), archival pigment print, 32.5 x 50 inches. Section of the Canada Glacier captured in the 3D file. A section of the massive, spired 60-foot-high side of the Canada Glacier photographed from the frozen surface of Lake Fryxell. The journey here entailed crossing the melted margin in a rowboat used by lake scientists and a bumpy ride over the ice on an ATV.
  • Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica

    Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica
    Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica (2015), archival pigment print, 32.5 x 50 inches. Section of the Canada Glacier captured in the 3D file. A section of the massive, spired 60-foot-high side of the Canada Glacier photographed from the frozen surface of Lake Fryxell. The journey here entailed crossing the melted margin in a rowboat used by lake scientists and a bumpy ride over the ice on an ATV.
  • Canada Glacier photo and sculpture, Trawick Prize Finalists Exhibition

    Canada Glacier photo and sculpture, Trawick Prize Finalists Exhibition
    Angle view of the Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell sculpture on view at the Trawick Prize Finalists Exhibition, Bethesda, MD, in September 2017. I was one of eight finalists in this regional prize competition for DC, Maryland and Virginia artists.
  • Panorama of Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica

    Panorama of Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica
    Panorama of Canada Glacier from Lake Fryxell, Antarctica (2015) photograph, 16.5 x 73 inches. The panorama gives some perspective on the size of the glacier. The area I photographed to make the 3D scan for the sculpture is on the left, centered in the area adjoining the lake.
  • Canada Glacier from Lake Hoare, Antarctica

    Canada Glacier from Lake Hoare, Antarctica
    Canada Glacier from Lake Hoare, Antarctica (2017) acrylic on 3D-printed PLA plastic, 11 x 54 x 15.5 inches. Sculpture of the west-facing side of the Canada Glacier. The basic 3D scan was generated via photogrammetry from still photographs and further edited. I printed it in sections, epoxied them together and painted it in acrylics.
  • Canada Glacier from Lake Hoare, Antarctica

    Canada Glacier from Lake Hoare, Antarctica
    Canada Glacier from Lake Hoare, Antarctica (2015) archival pigment print, 26.5 x 40 inches. The west facing side of the Canada Glacier rests alongside the Lake Hoare field camp. A row of sandbags has been placed at the edge of the area where meltwater flows in a stream during the austral summer.
  • Giant's Face" Pressure Ridge, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

    Giant's Face" Pressure Ridge, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica
    Giant's Face" Pressure Ridge, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica (2017) acrylic, oil and wax on 3D-printed PLA plastic and polymer-modified gypsum, 19.5 x 36 x 15.5 inches. Sculpture of a 20-foot-high Baroque looking sea ice pressure ridge in a remote section of New Harbor. The basic 3D scan was generated via photogrammetry, further edited, printed in sections and epoxied together. I added the icicles by hand and then painted it.
  • "Giant's Face" Pressure Ridge, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica

    "Giant's Face" Pressure Ridge, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica
    "Giant's Face" Pressure Ridge, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica (2015) archival pigment print, 22 x 15.675 inches. One of the source photographs for the 3D file that I made into a sculpture. Sea ice pressure ridges are caused by tides pushing the multi-year sea ice against the shore. The pressure ridge beneath the Double Curtain Glacier, is remarkably tall and articulated. This section reminded me of a giant face.
  • "Giant's Face" Pressure Ridge, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, angle view

    "Giant's Face" Pressure Ridge, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, angle view
    "Giant's Face" Pressure Ridge, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, angle view. See description for frontal view for complete description.

Ventifacts & Blood Falls, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

On Dec. 16th, 2015, with a mountaineer guide, I visited Blood Falls, a glacier stained with unique iron formations. The following day, the guide and I hiked up some steep gravel inclines in the McMurdo Dry Valleys above Lake Bonney to elevated ridges and plateaus to see the ventifacts. These are large granite boulders that have been pummeled by fierce winds picking up grains of gravel — imagine a giant sandblaster over millennia. It was a steady climb for well over an hour and then we came over a ridge where the ground was strewn with huge granite boulders curved, hollowed and pierced into strange shapes. I felt like I’d entered the world’s largest Surrealist sculpture garden. I circled the formations shown here with the eventual intention of creating 3D files from still photos via photogrammetry (see the Antarctica in 3D section for general information about the process).

The Dry Valleys are the largest relatively ice-free region in Antarctica, encompassing a cold and windy desert ecosystem with lakes that have a permanently frozen cover of about 4 meters of ice and rare life forms (mostly microorganisms) that have adapted to the extreme conditions — these are active for only two to three months a year and otherwise lie dormant. By international treaty, they are an Antarctic Specially Managed Area. Other than the small number of scientists and science support personnel who do research in the Dry Valleys during the austral summer, very few people have even seen the ventifact fields. Even fewer have been allowed to visit Blood Falls, which is an Antarctic Specially Protected Area and requires an additional permit be issued in advance from a national Antarctic program.

  • "Seated Figure" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    "Seated Figure" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    "Seated Figure" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica (2015), photograph, 14.675 x 22 inches. The ventifacts present very different sculptural profiles as you walk around them. None of the ventifacts have official names. Any names in quotes are ones I gave them for reference. This one reminded me of a seated figure.
  • "Seated Figure" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    "Seated Figure" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    "Seated Figure" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica (2015) photograph. The ventifacts present very different sculptural profiles as you walk around them. Compare this to the previous and following photo of the same formation. None of the ventifacts have official names. Any names in quotes are ones I gave them for reference.
  • Matterhorn Framed by Ventifacts, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    Matterhorn Framed by Ventifacts, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    Matterhorn Framed by Ventifacts, Dry Valleys, Antarctica (2015), photograph, 22.375 x 15 inches. This is another view of the "Seated Figure" ventifact shown in two other photographs. It frames a view of a mountain peak on the opposite side of the valley called The Matterhorn.
  • "Tanguy" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    "Tanguy" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    "Tanguy" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica (2015), photograph,13.75 x 22 inches. None of the ventifacts have official names. Any names in quotes are ones I gave them for reference. This one reminds me of Surrealist landscape paintings by Yves Tanguy from the mid 20th century. It is also a source photo intended for eventual processing as a 3D file and sculpture.
  • 06 Glazer Bird Ventifact.jpg

    "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica (2015) photograph, 14.75 x 22 inches. Source photo for the 3D scan from which I made the sculpture shown in other images of this project. None has an official name, but it reminded me of a bird.
  • "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica (2016), acrylic on 3D-printed PLA plastic and polymer-modified gypsum, 16 x 29.5 x 29.5 inches. At the top of the steep, gravel-covered hill above Lake Bonney in the McMurdo Dry Valleys is a plateau strewn with ventifacts, giant boulders eroded into strange shapes by fierce winds. I called it the Surrealist sculpture garden. I made a 3D scan of this six-foot-tall boulder and printed it in sections on a 3D printer. A video of the process is shown on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdY3xDGPDf0
  • "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica (2016), acrylic on 3D-printed PLA plastic and polymer-modified gypsum, 16 x 29.5 x 29.5 inches. At the top of the steep, gravel-covered hill above Lake Bonney in the McMurdo Dry Valleys is a plateau strewn with ventifacts, giant boulders eroded into strange shapes by fierce winds. I called it the Surrealist sculpture garden. I made a 3D scan of this six-foot-tall boulder and printed it in sections on a 3D printer. A video of the process is shown on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdY3xDGPDf0
  • "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    "Bird" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica (2016), acrylic on 3D-printed PLA plastic and polymer-modified gypsum, 16 x 29.5 x 29.5 inches. At the top of the steep, gravel-covered hill above Lake Bonney in the McMurdo Dry Valleys is a plateau strewn with ventifacts, giant boulders eroded into strange shapes by fierce winds. I called it the Surrealist sculpture garden. I made a 3D scan of this six-foot-tall boulder and printed it in sections on a 3D printer. A video of the process is shown on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdY3xDGPDf0
  • "Pterodactyl" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    "Pterodactyl" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    (2015/2019) archival pigment print, 12 x 18 inches. At the top of the steep, gravel-covered hill above Lake Bonney is a plateau strewn with ventifacts, giant boulders eroded into strange shapes by freeze/thaw cycles and fierce winds. This is one of the source photos for the sculpture also shown here.
  • "Pterodactyl" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica

     "Pterodactyl" Ventifact, Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    (2019) acrylic on 3D-printed PLA plastic, 16 x 24.5 x 29.5 inches. 3D printed sculpture generated from still photos taken on site, via photogrammetry.

Penguin Colony, Cape Royds, Antarctica

David Ainley established a longterm study of this and three other Adélie colonies in 1996, so 2015-16 was its 19th season. I spent several days at Cape Royds observing some 2,000 penguin couples in the midst of nesting season, taking turns sitting on eggs and trotting down the rocky slope to the water to feed. The researchers monitored the nests, walking the colony with a notebook every other day to count birds and eggs, and to track the nesting activities of banded birds. The hills are covered with black gravel and rounded stone formations called volcanic pillows, vestiges of past geological activity of nearby Mt. Erebus. On my final day I spotted the first chick of the season to hatch. Video of the chick and other penguin behaviors are on my YouTube channel.

  • Penguin Subcolonies, Cape Royds

    Penguin Subcolonies, Cape Royds
    (2015/2017) archival pigment print, 14.75 x 22 inches. Penguins nest in groups called subcolonies. The boards are probably remnants left behind by British explorers in Ernest Shackleton's expedition in the 1910s. There are no organisms to decompose wood in Antarctica, so it just weathers. Everything they left behind, even broken bottles or bones from their meals, is left in place.
  • Volcanic Landscape, Cape Royds, Antarctica

    Volcanic Landscape, Cape Royds, Antarctica
    (2015/2018) photograph. Although this landscape looks like walls and paths left by an ancient civilization, it is untouched by human intervention. The "walls" are actually solid blocks of volcanic stone with deep cracks, which geologists call "volcanic pillows." Nor is this a black-and-white photograph, but a full color image.
  • Volcanic Remnant, Cape Royds, Antarctica

    Volcanic Remnant, Cape Royds, Antarctica
    (2015/2018) A rounded volcanic rock, studded with crystals and tinged with a pink rust color.
  • First Chick of the Season, Cape Royds, Antarctica

    First Chick of the Season, Cape Royds, Antarctica
    (2015/2017) archival pigment print, 21.5 x 22.25 inches. I spent several hours one raw and windy day looking to see if I could find a penguin chick. None of the researchers had spotted one yet. I was about to give up when I heard peeping, turned around, and watched for about 3 minutes as the parent penguin fed the chick then settled gently back on top of it.
  • Into the Ocean, Cape Royds, Antarctica

    Into the Ocean, Cape Royds, Antarctica
    (2015/2017) archival pigment print, 14.25 x 22.375 inches. Penguins plunge into the ocean to feed near a small iceberg.
  • Penguin Yoga, Cape Royds, Antarctica

    Penguin Yoga, Cape Royds, Antarctica
    (2015/2017) archival pigment print, 22.375 x 15 inches. The outreach educator on the penguin study team playfully refers to poses like this "penguin yoga."
  • Penguin #06704, Cape Royds, Antarctica

    Penguin #06704, Cape Royds, Antarctica
    (2015/2017) archival pigment print, 15 x 22.375 inches. Each year the researchers band the new chicks, and look for them in subsequent years to track their nesting and reproduction.
  • Penguin Nest with Three Eggs, Cape Royds, Antarctica

    Penguin Nest with Three Eggs, Cape Royds, Antarctica
    (2015/2017) archival pigment print, 18 x 16.25 inches. Most penguins lay one egg each season, some lay two, but three is an anomaly. The scientists speculated that either the egg had somehow come from another nest or that the male penguin had switched mates midway through the nesting season (also unusual, since penguins mate for life). They predicted that none of the eggs would hatch or if they did, none would survive, but when I saw David Ainley three weeks later he told me to their surprise, two of the chicks had hatched and were doing well.

Antarctica in 3D — Other Scans

All of the photographs shown here were taken in 2015. The 3D files were processed in 2016 and 2017 and are in the pipeline to eventually be produced as sculpture. I have numerous other sets of photos I haven't processed yet. Getting the 3D files ready for production is a lengthy and time-consuming process.

Part of my Antarctic project involves capturing forms in 3D. There have been plenty of photographs taken in Antarctica, within and outside the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, but relatively little sculpture, and the sculpture that has been done has been more inspired by the landscape than an attempt to capture the specifics of the marvelous forms and textures produced by the interaction of wind and water in this unusual environment. My method for doing so is described in the previous portfolio.

The ice formations I photographed are constantly changing in response to the sun, wind and gravity and movement of the sea ice around them. In the case of the icebergs, when the sea ice in McMurdo Sound melts, as it does every few years, and did in March 2016, they move and transform or float away. Some of the 3D files I've made are records of ice formations that radically transformed or disappeared in that process.

Many of these files were used in the award-winning science fiction short The Beacon, directed by Chris Staehler. The last portion of the movie takes place on a frozen planet. The Antarctic scans were utilized by the video effects team to create realistic backgrounds for the action in the film.

  • "Seated Figure" Ventifact Group Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    "Seated Figure" Ventifact Group Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    This group of ventifacts, one of which resembles a seated figure and another reminiscent of an Easter Island head from some angles, was photographed in the same ventifact field as the "Bird" Ventifact shown in the portfolio of completed Antarctica sculptures. The field was at the top of plateau a 90 minute uphill hike from Lake Bonney in the McMurdo Dry Valleys. This is one of the source photos used to generate the 3D file shown in the next image.
  • Seated Figure Ventifact Group Dry Valleys, Antarctica

    Seated Figure Ventifact Group Dry Valleys, Antarctica
    Two screenshots of the 3D file I've made of the group of ventifacts shown in the previous photo. I intend to 3D-print it as I did with the "Bird" Ventifact shown in the portfolio of completed Antarctica sculptures, because 3D printing will enable me to retain the undercuts and concave areas. The field was at the top of plateau a 90 minute uphill hike from Lake Bonney in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.
  • Iceberg Stuck in the Sea Ice, Cape Bernacchi, Antarctica

    Iceberg Stuck in the Sea Ice, Cape Bernacchi, Antarctica
    Two of the 169 source photographs I took walking all the way around this massive iceberg stuck in the sea ice between New Harbor and Cape Bernacchi, a 45-minute snowmobile ride from the New Harbor field camp. I was able to photograph it from all sides for a 3D file, which would be very difficult, if not impossible, if it were floating in water. The snowmobile in the foreground gives you an idea of how enormous this iceberg is.
  • Iceberg Stuck in the Sea Ice, Cape Bernacchi, Antarctica

    Iceberg Stuck in the Sea Ice, Cape Bernacchi, Antarctica
    Screenshot of the 3D file in progress from the source photos shown in the previous image. The multi-year sea ice in the sound broke up and washed out to sea in March 2016. The New Harbor research team recently posted photos showing that this iceberg partially sank and the entire middle section has disappeared below the surface, so this file documents of a formation that no longer exists.
  • Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Source Photo

    Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Source Photo
    The Scott Base pressure ridges are ice formations near where the sea ice meets the Ross Island shoreline near Scott Base, which is New Zealand's Antarctic research station. I made a 3D file from photos of this particular grouping, which disappeared a few months later: In March 2016, filmmaker Anthony Powell posted a time-lapse sequence online of the sea ice breaking up. This pressure ridge collapses and floats out to sea, leaving open water.
  • Screenshot of 3D File of Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Antarctica

    Screenshot of 3D File of Scott Base Pressure Ridge, Antarctica
    The Scott Base pressure ridges are ice formations near where the sea ice meets the Ross Island shoreline near Scott Base, which is New Zealand's Antarctic research station. The preliminary processing of the 53 photos I took of this section gave me a 360 degree file with a few minor gaps, as well as some areas that need to be deleted. Like all the ice formations here, they are constantly changing in response to the sun, wind and gravity, and in that sense these files are records of ephemeral phenomena.
  • Iceberg Stuck in Sea Ice Near Dellbridge Islands, Antarctica

    Iceberg Stuck in Sea Ice Near Dellbridge Islands, Antarctica
    Photo of the iceberg stuck in the sea ice near the Dellbridge Islands, with me in the foreground to give a sense of scale. The 3D file generated from photographs I took there is shown in the next image.
  • Iceberg Stuck in Sea Ice Near Dellbridge Islands, Antarctica

    Iceberg Stuck in Sea Ice Near Dellbridge Islands, Antarctica
    This is a screenshot of the 3D file I produced from photographs of an iceberg stuck in the sea ice near the Dellbridge Islands in Antarctica. It may have floated away when the sea ice broke out in March 2016.
  • Film still from "The Beacon"

    Film still from "The Beacon"
    Director and VFX artist Chris Staehler and his visual effects team created a frozen planet for his short film "The Beacon" (2018). The team incorporated my 3D scans of the Antarctic landscape to lend realism to the environment they created. This is a still from the film and is their artwork.

Urban Trees, Los Angeles (2014-present)

I first photographed a row of strangely humanoid smooth-barked trees along a busy Los Angeles thoroughfare in 2012 while visiting family members who had moved there. On subsequent visits, I realized the trees — which I later identified as Ficus microcarpa 'Nitida,' commonly known as Indian laurel figs — are widely planted throughout the city. A non-native Southeast Asian shade variety, they comprise 5% of the trees in Los Angeles and play an important role in the city's "green infrastructure." From Little Tokyo to Beverly Hills, they endure similar treatment: bearing the scars of interaction with humans — staples, nails, street lamps, bits of torn posters — for decades they have provided a seemingly irresistible surface for graffiti carvers.

Over the years and subsequent visits, my series has gradually grown. The underlying motivation behind my art making in general is to find beauty and surprises in an unexpected place, complexity and layers of experience in something we think we already know, and underlying relationships in what at first glance seems random. I search for a deeper understanding of what natural forms tell you about the particular conditions of the moment, and in the case of the Indian laurel figs, they frequently push back forcefully against the concrete and asphalt that contains them, cantilevering sidewalk slabs and curling their roots over curbs. They're sturdy survivors, bearing the traces of time's passage and the indignities visited upon them, still standing. I highlight their distinctive profiles and gestures by replacing the backgrounds of my photographs in post-processing with a flat color gradient, as if the tree had posed for a studio portrait.

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