CHANGE: A Permanent Polar Art exhibit

Exclusively Aboard National Geographic Endurance



We are thrilled to announce acclaimed artist Zaria Forman now assumes a ground-breaking curatorship—a definitive polar art exhibition aboard the world’s ultimate new polar expedition ship. She has assembled CHANGE, the first-ever, permanent ship-based installation of drawings, paintings, video, photography, sculpture, and even soundscape by a wide range of artists dedicated to examining and expressing response to vulnerable polar geographies.


Using each deck of the ship, Zaria will display works, including her own, and explore key themes—polar light, the intimate geometries of vast geographies, human history in polar regions, and more—to give our guests the richest polar experience possible. The beauty and grandeur of these fragile landscapes has been a source of inspiration for countless artists and explorers and now, those on board National Geographic Endurance will get the chance to experience the same.


Guided and self-guided ship-wide tours will be available for a more in-depth exploration of the art in both the public and private spaces of the ship.


“Even as these delicate landscapes change all around us, they spur change within us. What we do with this change is for each of us to decide.”

—Zaria Forman


Ice Crispies
03:51 min, collected in Errera Channel, Antarctica, 2015
Courtesy of the artist, Zaria Forman

Click above to listen to the sound of glacial ice melting, and the ancient air bubbles trapped inside of it breaking free. (Also the “whirring” sounds in the background are Gentoo penguins).



Themes & Artists of Change

Explore a sampling of the exhibition’s themes and artists whose work will be on display.


finding the light    |    unexpected perspectives    |   exploration & enchantment


Finding the Light

Light dramatically alters a landscape and viewing the exact same place at multiple times can evoke completely different emotions. These works explore changes in light, both subtle and intense, and the innovative ways that artists are embracing or manipulating light to create scenes and shapes that range from dreamy to eerie. 


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REUBEN WU is driven by a desire to explore new places as if they were unknown territories, constantly open to serendipity, with an eye for the unnoticed and the hidden. He uses drones and time-lapse photography to create light patterns in his photographs. His moody, otherworldly depictions of polar landscapes and glaciers evoke sublime romantic painting, and science fiction. 

VIRGINIA WAGNER makes paintings set in zones of conflict between human progress and the natural world. This tension plays out in the paint, as rigid grids contrast swampy pools and violent spills. The paintings she is developing for Change picture giant vertical pinnacles of ice under scaffolding, being mined, chopped up, and studied for human use.


Unexpected Perspectives

Visiting polar landscapes by ship offers people one of the most dramatic, up-close perspectives of our rapidly changing planet. But the view itself is mostly limited to the landscape orientation. These works are dedicated to the wide range of perspectives that give people a more holistic experience of the places they are visiting.

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ERIC GUTH is a photographer with extensive field experience in remote and polar regions. He is a naturalist with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic and a field technician for James Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey in Antarctica as well as glacier cave research in Oregon, Washington, Patagonia, and Greenland. His visually striking photographs give us a seldom-seen view of the underside of icebergs.

ZARIA FORMAN has been making drawings that document climate change for the past 12 years. Most recently, she travelled with several NASA science missions to track shifting ice, producing a collection that faithfully captures the range of ephemeral landscapes she observed while flying just hundreds of feet over Antarctica and the Arctic. Like orbiting astronauts who are overcome by Earth’s fragility and moved to protect it, viewers are invited to witness a perspective on our planet that is connected to both the exacting beauty of science and the terrifying urgency of climate change.


Exploration & Enchantment

There are so many reasons why we are drawn to visit polar regions. The obvious draw of adventure and personal conquest; of testing our mettle amid unforgiving conditions. The search for knowledge, in which we seek to better understand the planet we all share. And then there’s the desire to escape from reality, to enter a terrain that is easy to describe as otherworldly, even though it’s actually as "worldly" as it gets. The works in this series explore the human experience of polar life and ask the viewer if our motivations to know these places change once we have been. 

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NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC helped pioneer polar expedition. Rare archival films and photographs depicting the earliest polar expeditions funded by the Society—like these images of Matthew Henson & Robert Peary’s 1909 expedition to the North Pole—illuminate National Geographic’s deep connection to the polar regions. This portion of the exhibit will also highlight contemporary National Geographic stories evolving our understanding of climate change.

JULIE HEFFERNAN’s paintings, akin to Magical Realism, utilize a myriad of art historical references to present a sensual interior narrative, a self-allegory whose half- hidden political agenda is the literal background of the paintings. Excited to paint ice for the first time, Julie is developing a painting that will explore the Arctic’s geological past, when palm trees swayed under a warm sun.


JOHN SABRAW is an activist and environmentalist, with sustainability at the forefront of his creations. He collaborates with scientists and makes paint (that he uses) from iron oxide extracted in the process of remediating polluted streams. For CHANGE, he will make polar, ocean and ice abstracted globes, overlaying with fine gold leaf maps of polar-arctic shipping lanes, exploration routes, and migratory routes.

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