Polar Perspectives on Art and Science Series Continues on March 26

March 10, 2014


Polar Perspectives on Art and Science Series Continues in Spring at Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers


New Brunswick, NJ – The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers collaborates with colleagues across the university to host “Polar Perspectives on Art and Science,” a series of interdisciplinary programs in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition “Diane Burko: Glacial Perspectives.” Upcoming events at the Zimmerli include “Caspar David Friedrich’s ‘The Sea of Ice’” (March 26) and “Baskets & Data: Making Weather Tactile in the Digital Age” (April 10). Events begin at 4 p.m., followed by an informal reception, and are free to Rutgers students, faculty, and staff. Events are free to general public with museum admission. See details for both programs here.

On Wednesday, March 26, at 4 p.m., Nicholas Rennie, Associate Professor of German at Rutgers, presents the lecture “Caspar David Friedrich’s ‘The Sea of Ice.’” Rennie explores the theme of the sublime in Friedrich’s iconic 1823 image of an arctic shipwreck. The painting of a ship crushed by an ice sheet captures the popular theme of the struggle between man and nature at a time when attempts to reach the North Pole became more frequent endeavors for explorers and scientists. Friedrich also influenced later 19th-century landscape artists who portrayed polar expeditions.

Artist Nathalie Miebach presents “Baskets & Data: Making Weather Tactile in the Digital Age” on Thursday, April 10, at 4 p.m. She discusses her translations of scientific data from the realms of astronomy, ecology, and meteorology into sculpture, installation, and musical scores, while exploring the intersection of art and science. Links to Miebach’s 2011 Ted Talk and the January 2014 issue of “American Craft Magazine,” featuring a cover article about the artist, are available at nathaliemiebach.com/upcoming.html.  

During the Spring 2014 semester, Rutgers professors Asa Rennermalm (Geography) and Hal Salzman (Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy) lead the Byrne Seminar “Arctic Lens: A Journey to the Great North through Film.” This class for first-year students explores the physical, environmental, and social dimensions of the Arctic through feature films and documentaries. It also includes an examination of Burko’s work and an opportunity to meet the artist in her studio. Information about Byrne seminars is available at byrne.rutgers.edu.

Thanks to the income from an endowment established by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Zimmerli is collaborating with Rutgers colleagues to offer “Polar Perspectives” throughout the 2013-14 academic year. The museum’s partners include the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy (policy.rutgers.edu); Department of Geography (geography.rutgers.edu); Rutgers Climate Institute (climatechange.rutgers.edu); the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (marine.rutgers.edu); and the Institute for Women and Art (iwa.rutgers.edu). These partnerships are co-sponsored by the Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers) as part of the 2013-2015 Biennial Theme: “Global Health!” This university-wide initiative focuses on the global health connections that are apparent in all aspects of life: from disease to violence, from natural disasters to art therapy, from drought to market forces in health care delivery. By exploring the impact of such issues like these, it becomes clear that global health issues are also local. More information is available at global.rutgers.edu.

“Diane Burko: Glacial Perspectives,” on view through July 31, not only captures the beauty of ice, it also addresses the fragility of these remote vistas and the concern that their disappearance will have drastic effects for us all. The exhibition transports museum visitors to the very ends of the earth, documenting changes in glacial movement and depleted snow levels that have occurred within the past century. The artist draws from American landscape traditions of the 19th century. She reinvents the genre by integrating contemporary climate concerns with scientific evidence – rather than political commentary – as the basis for her work and encourages viewers to develop their own points of view about climate change.

With their large scale and vivid color, Burko’s work reflects her longtime interest in extreme landscapes. For more than 40 years, she has focused on monumental and geological phenomena throughout the world. Beginning in the early 2000s, Burko’s explorations have extended to include snow and ice in remote locations and, since 2006, the threat of global warming. The sublime paintings from her ongoing “Politics of Snow” series (2007-13) capture gradual landscape changes, as well as specific climatic events. Her newest photographs include oversized prints from “Polar Investigations,” an ongoing series that began with her expedition to Antarctica in early 2013.

In September, just after “Glacial Perspectives” opened, Burko began the next phase of “Polar Investigations” when she joined a voyage with other artists and scientists to the high Arctic. The Independence Foundation in Philadelphia awarded Burko a Fellowship in the Arts to support her expedition, which was sponsored by the nonprofit organization The Arctic Circle (thearcticcircle.org). The group embarked on the adventure from Longyearbyen, the world’s northern-most town, located only 600 miles from the North Pole. The exploration complemented Burko’s trip to Antarctica, allowing her to experience both poles in the same year.

“Glacial Perspectives” was organized by Donna Gustafson, Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Curator, with the assistance of Kelsey Brosnan and Jenevieve DeLosSantos, PhD candidates in the Department of Art History at Rutgers and Andrew W. Mellon Summer Interns at the Zimmerli, and Faye Doelling, Summer Intern, Rutgers, Class of 2014. This exhibition and related programs are made possible by an endowment fund established by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Schedule a guided group or class tour of “Glacial Perspectives.” Docents are available to lead tours in English, French, and Spanish. Please schedule at least two weeks in advance by emailing education@zimmerli.rutgers.edu.


Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1945, Diane Burko (dianeburko.com) has had more than 30 solo exhibitions in galleries and museums across the United States and her works are in numerous private and public collections. Her residencies in Giverny, France, and Bellagio, Italy, resulted in two series of paintings that received critical acclaim. She also has received two NEA Visual Arts Fellowships, two Individual Artists Grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and a Women’s Caucus for Art/College Art Association Lifetime Achievement Award. For more than 30 years, Burko was a professor of fine arts at the Community College of Philadelphia. In addition, she has taught at such institutions as Princeton University and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, as well as lectured at museums and university galleries across the country. She holds a B.S. in art history and painting from Skidmore College and an M.F.A. from the Graduate School of Fine Arts of the University of Pennsylvania, where she also studied painting. Burko lives and works in Philadelphia and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.


The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum houses more than 60,000 works of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary art. The permanent collection features particularly rich holdings in 19th-century French art; Russian art from icons to the avant-garde; Soviet nonconformist art from the Dodge Collection; and American art with notable holdings of prints. In addition, small groups of antiquities, old master paintings, as well as art inspired by Japan and original illustrations for children’s books, provide representative examples of the museum’s research and teaching message at Rutgers. Founded in 1966 to serve the campus and community, the Zimmerli is now one of the nation’s largest and most distinguished university-based art museums, located in a 70,000-square-foot building on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Established in 1766, Rutgers is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and a premier public research university.


The Zimmerli’s operations, exhibitions, and programs are funded in part by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and income from the Avenir Foundation Endowment, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment, and the Voorhees Family Endowment, among others. Additional support comes from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; the Estate of Victoria J. Mastrobuono; and donors, members, and friends of the museum.


The Zimmerli Art Museum is located at 71 Hamilton Street at George Street on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The Zimmerli is a short walk from the NJ Transit train station in New Brunswick, midway between New York City and Philadelphia.


Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and the first Wednesday of each month (except August), 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays, major holidays, and the month of August.

Z Café featuring the Food Architects is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a variety of breakfast, lunch, and snack items.


Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for 65 and over; and free for museum members, children under 18, and Rutgers students, faculty, and staff (with ID). Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. For more information, call 848.932.7237 or visit the museum’s website: www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu


Who to contact: