Forgot your password? | Register Here

NYC - Public Lecture Series feat. Elise Engler

Unpacking Antarctica

This event will be streamed live. Please visit our Live Stream page at 7pm on the evening of the event to view the lecture for free.

Elise Engler is an artist whose work is documentary in nature. Her projects have ranged from the most contained to the most expansive. She has drawn the contents of women's pocket books, the inside of five desks at a firm of venture capitalists, every one of the 13,127 objects she possesses and, most recently, chronicled her travels across Antarctica as a recipient of a National Science Foundation’s Antarctica Artist and Writers’ Program grant. In between, she has documented equipment aboard a research vessel collecting water and dirt samples along the Oregon and Washington coast; she has drawn in the Charles Darwin Foundation Laboratories in the Galapagos and at a 15th Century Castle in Umbria, Italy. In addition Engler spent five years deconstructing what tax dollars buy ranging from everything on a fire engine to all the items in a laboratory in the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene.

The title for Engler’s 2009-2010 proposal for the National Science Foundation’s residency in Antarctica was Unpacking Antarctica, a play on a words used to describe ice as well as a description of her project. Her aim was to show as much of Antarctica as possible through drawings, paintings and videos. While there, she was able to travel by helicopter and military plane from McMurdo Station to the two penguin colonies at Cape Crozier and Cape Royds (the same location as Shackleton’s hut), to the Dry Valleys and to the South Pole. In the Dry Valleys she accompanied geologists and biologists as they collected specimens in the field. She assisted Environmental Scientist and activist Dr. David Ainley as he and his team tagged penguins at Cape Crozier. She spent a long weekend at the South Pole exploring the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric facilities, the neutrino telescope known as Ice Cube and the South Pole Telescope. Most of the time she lived in tents, painted and drew plein air and recorded her journey through journals, sketchbooks, paintings and drawings, as well as photographs and videos.

Ninety-Degree Draft #1- 4, 2009-11,
gouache, colored pencil on paper, 4 of 10 drawings ea. 30 x 42"

Upon her return, all of this work resulted in a series ten of drawings entitled Ninety-Degree Draft (each 30 x 40”) with hundreds of images scattered over underlying watercolor maps of the continent. The drawings serve as a an illustrated timeline of all phases of the adventure from preparation to actually being on “the Ice.” Her presentation will include images of this work, photographs as well as watercolors and drawings made in the field, and oil paintings done back in her New York studio. In addition, Engler made two painted and drawn accordion books, one showing thirty views out of windows at McMurdo Station and the other featuring the windows at the Dry Valley field camp at Lake Hoare. She has printed and made a small hand-bound edition of these books, and will bring both to the lecture.

Beyond receiving the NSF grant, Engler was a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy. In 2012 she received an Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Individual Artist Support Grant, and has been a grantee of the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her work is shown throughout the United States and Europe; it is represented by Robert Henry Contemporary in Brooklyn. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts and at City College, City University of New York, as well as for the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hunter College and received an MFA from Bennington College, where she was awarded a teaching fellowship. Ninety-Degree Draft was featured as part of the Thaw exhibition at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Projects in Long Island City. Drawings of the contents of her Antarctic suitcases and other travel drawings were also part of the traveling exhibition, Lifelogging at the Perlman Teaching Museum at Carleton College in Minnesota. They will soon be featured at Ithaca College’s Handwerker Gallery, opening mid- March, with further exhibitions upcoming. Engler’s work has been reviewed or featured in numerous magazines and publications including Art in America, The New York Times, Artnet, Artpulse, Interior Design and Chronogram Magazine. Her work can be seen at

Date: 2/9/2015

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: Free

Guest Ticket Price: $20

Student Ticket Price:

Free for EC Student Members, $5 w/ valid Student ID

Reservation Notes:

Reservations are allotted on a first-come, first served basis.

To secure a reservation, call us at 212.628.8383 or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Back to top
The Explorers Club ®, World Center for Exploration ®, The Flag and the Seal are registered trademarks of The Explorers Club. Use by others is strictly prohibited. Photographs appearing on this website are used by permission and may not be copied or re-used in any manner.

Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste