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We at AETHER are fans of the great outdoors, which is what drew us to the work of Brooklyn-based painter Zaria Forman. Influenced at a young age by her fine-art photographer mother, Forman became enamored with remote landscapes, eventually leading her to paint far-off lands in her own career as an artist. She went on to study at Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy and received a B.S. in Studio Art from Skidmore College in New York. Forman opened her first solo exhibition in 2005 at Case Gallery in Saratoga Springs and has since shown at many notable galleries across the US and around the world, including Banksy’s Dismaland in 2015.
Traveling to remote places to source inspiration, Forman takes photographs and sketches rough outlines while on location, using them as references once she returns home and begins to create her large-scale compositions. Zaria Forman’s grand, hyper-realistic paintings of the sea and icy glaciers are all created using soft pastels and her fingertips—they can take up to 250 hours to finish.
For her latest exhibition, Forman ventured this past winter on a month-long expedition to Antarctica with National Geographic Explorer. While there, Forman experienced firsthand the stunning beauty of the continent while also playing witness to its extraordinarily fragile state. She debuted her latest collection of work, Antarctica, at a gallery in Seattle late last year. The exhibit features 13 pieces depicting natural wonders like icebergs and glacial coves. Fusing her passion with a potent political issue, Forman’s work goes beyond being aesthetically stunning by also making a statement about climate change.
Forman’s exhibit is truly immersive: With the help of Brown Innovations Directional Sound Technology, she created a uniquely immersive Antarctic experience for visitors, combining visual storytelling with the sounds of crackling, melting glacial ice that she recorded on the Antarctic peninsula. Antartica is currently on view at The Climate Museum in New York City through January 15. Afterward, it will go on hiatus, reopening in October at New York City’s Winston Wachter Fine Art Museum.
Check out a selection of photos from Antarctica below.