They are odds and ends of lives long past, lived in the cold and ice of the world’s polar regions. They are bits and pieces that give a feeling as much as they tell a story: an old photograph here, a line drawing there, a braided ribbon, a newspaper headline.
The collages lining the walls in the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s (HMNH) newest exhibit, “Echoes in the Ice,” tell the heroic and sometimes tragic story of the exploration of the world’s poles through the eyes of New York-based artist Rik van Glintenkamp.
Van Glintenkamp is a photographer whose work has appeared in Glamour, Seventeen, and British Vogue and who has directed music videos and films for PBS. Van Glintenkamp’s fascination with polar exploration began when he was a boy and blossomed into the exhibit’s collages when he transformed informational boards made for a would-be movie on polar explorers into permanent collages.
Today, the fruits of his 14-year exercise in interpretive art total more than 100 pieces, some 37 of which are on exhibit at the HMNH through April 22.
The collages present the usual images of polar exploration – faces, ships, dogs, penguins, and ice – in unusual fashion. Combined with explanatory plaques that tell the explorer’s stories in more traditional fashion, the two combine to give visitors an informed view of an important time colored by one man’s vision.