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Lita Albuquerque: Stellar Axis

CAE1042

Summary Note

Lita Albuquerque: Stellar Axis contains correspondence, grant applications, maps, journals, photographs, and video of “Stellar Axis”, a large-scale art installation created in the Antarctic in 2006 on the Ross Ice Shelf and again at the North Pole in 2007.

Biographical Note

Lita Albuquerque was born in Santa Monica, California and raised in Tunisia, North Africa and Paris, France. At the age of eleven she settled with her family in the U.S. In the 1970s Albuquerque emerged on the California art scene as part of the Light and Space movement, but then was increasingly recognized for her large-scale land art projects that connected the ground with astronomical phenomena. The success of her Washington Monument Project at the International Sculptural Conference in 1980, when she turned the monument’s obelisk into the gnomon of a giant sundial, led to numerous awards and commissions at major sites around the world, including the Great Pyramids, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in L.A., the California State Capitol in Sacramento, the New Central Library in Minneapolis with Cesar Pelli, and public works in Japan. She has been granted three N.E.A. Art in Public Places awards and an N.E.A. Visual Artist fellowship, won the Cairo Biennale prize, and in 2006 a National Science Foundation Visiting Artist award to work in the Antarctic. Albuquerque’s work is included in the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian and is collected by museums and foundations such as: the Whitney Museum of Art, LA MOCA, the Getty Trust, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and in numerous collections around the world.

Scope and Content

Stellar Axis was the first large-scale art installation created in the Antarctic. Funded by the National Science Foundation, it was installed on the Ross Ice Shelf on December 22, 2006 (Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere). Albuquerque created a star map of the ninety-nine brightest stars and their constellations that would have been visible, had it been night. She deployed ninety-nine ultramarine blue fiberglass spheres of varying diameters positioned on the ice, from ten inches to four feet, to represent the relative magnitude of the stars. Envisioned as the first part of a two-part work, the second to be realized in the North Polar region, together they are meant to link the stars through both poles as a shaft of light aligned with the rotational axis of the Earth, creating a spiral that is a metaphor for the conveyance of information, a kind of stellar DNA. Materials include correspondence, grant applications, maps, journals, photographs, and videos. Additional materials from the book project between Lita Albuquerque and the Nevada Museum of Art are also included, which consists of project specifications, artist imagery, and research and final essay by William L. Fox.

Arrangement

Lita Albuquerque: Stellar Axis is organized into seven series, which follows a rough chronology of the project, with the exception of series 7, which spans the entire project.
  • Series 1: Research
  • Series 2: Grants
  • Series 3: Project Management
  • Series 4: Travel Logistics
  • Series 5: On the Ice
  • Series 6: Project Outcomes
  • Series 7: Outreach/Education

Inclusive Dates

1950-2015

Bulk Dates

2006

Quantity / Extent

3.5 cubic feet

Language

English, Arabic, Chinese, French

Related Archive Collections

  • CAE1103: Joan Myers: Wondrous Cold, An Antarctic Journey
  • CAE1107: Stephen Eastaugh: Antarctic Work
  • CAE1112: Simon Balm: Stellar Axis, Antarctica
  • CAE1116: Chris Drury: Antarctica
  • CAE1117: William L. Fox: Terra Antarctica
  • CAE1202: David Rosenthal: Paintings of the North and South Polar Regions
  • CAE1217: Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid: Ice Music
  • CAE1218: Jean de Pomereu: Antarctic Photographs
  • CAE1219: Stuart Klipper: The Antarctic, From the Circle to the Pole
  • CAE1307: Chris Kannen: An Antarctic Extended Season
  • CAE1605: Anna McKee: 68,000 Years of Ice
  • CAE1806: Bruce Licher: Stamping Antarctica
  • CAE1910: Helen Glazer: Walking in Antarctica
  • CAE1911: Donald Fortescue: Instrument (90ºS)
  • CAE1903: David Arnold: Antarctic Re-Explorations

Related Publications

Albert, Laurie Slater, Robin Vaccarino, and Melinda Wortz. Contemporaries: 17 Artists. Los Angeles: Security Pacific Bank, 1980.

Albuquerque, Lita. Lita Albuquerque: Stellar Axis. New York, N.Y.: Skira Rizzol, 2014.

Floria, David. Sculpture Aspen 1990. Aspen, Colorado: Aspen Art Museum, 1990.

Marsching, Jane D., and Andrea Polli. Far Field Digital Culture, Climate Change, and the Poles. Bristol, U.K.: Intellect, 2012.

Patricia Faure Gallery. Lita Albuquerque: Ephemeral Work, 1978 – 2006. Santa Monica, CA: Patricia Faure Gallery, 2006.

Container Listing by Series:

CAE1042/1 Series 1: Research, 1983-2007

Series 1 includes information about Lita Albuquerque, Albuquerque’s general research about Antarctica and the Arctic, research about National Science Foundation programs, and research about people associated with Antarctica including the logistics manager for the NSF’s Office of Polar Programs, a writer, and an artist.
  • CAE Box 27

    • 1-1 General Polar Research, 1987-2006
    • 1-2 Antarctic Imagery, 1983-2006
    • 1-3 Astronomy, 2003-2006
    • 1-4 Magnetic Poles/Continental Drift, 2003-2005
    • 1-5 Satellites, 2004
    • 1-6 Polar Cruise Research, 1999-2006
    • 1-7 British Antarctic Survey Research Station, 2005
    • 1-8 NSF US Antarctic Program, 2000-2004
    • 1-9 NSF Antarctic Research Program, 2004
    • 1-10 NSF Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, 2004
    • 1-11 People – General Reseach, 2004-2006
    • 1-12 People – William L. Fox, 2006-2007
    • 1-13 People – Tom Van Sant, 1990-2004
    • 1-14 Large Project Research, 2006

CAE1042/2 Series 2: Grants, Fundraising, and Public Relations, 1993-2007

Series 2 includes information about fundraising for the project.
  • CAE Box 27

    • 2-1 2004 NSF Grant Proposal Guide (NSF 04-23), 2004
    • 2-2 2004 NSF Grant Proposal Draft Materials, 2004
    • 2-3 2004 NSF Grant Proposal, 1993-2004
    • 2-4 2004 NSF Grant Letters of Support, 2004-2005
    • 2-5 2004 NSF Communication, 2004-2005
    • 2-6 2005 NSF Grant Proposal Draft Materials, 2004-2005
    • 2-7 2005 NSF Grant Proposal, 2005-2006
    • 2-8 2005 NSF Grant Requirements Worksheet, 2005
    • 2-9 2005 NSF Grant Letters of Support, 2005
    • 2-10 2005 NSF Grant Advocacy Letters, 2006
    • 2-11 2005 NSF 1 Day Turnaround Proposal Draft Materials, 2005-2006
    • 2-12 2005 NSF Acceptance Correspondence, 2006
    • 2-13 Creative Capital Grant, 2004-2005
    • 2-14 Quark Polar Arts Program, 2005-2006
    • 2-15 Fundraising Ideas, 2004-2006
    • 2-16 Corporation Research and Lists, 2006
    • 2-17 Corporate Fundraising Letters, 2006
    • 2-18 Star (Sphere) Sculpture Fundraiser, 2006-2007
    • 2-19 Final Corporate Sponsorship Package, 2006
    • 2-20 Public Relations, CA&A (Christine Anderson and Associates), 2006-2007
    • 2-21 Website Design, 2004-2006
    • 2-22 Press Releases and Coverage, 2005-2006

CAE1042/3 Series 3: Project Management, 1950-2008

Series 3 contains items relating to the development and planning of Stellar Axis, including developmental research and imagery, meeting notes, star research and charts, photographs, correspondence, and technical drawings.
  • CAE Box 27

    • 3-1 Concept Development Research, 1997-2006
    • 3-2 Concept Development Imagery, 1975-2006
    • 3-3 Process Notes and Communication, 2004-2006
    • 3-4 Object Representation Decision, 2006
    • 3-5 Star Mapping, 1950-2006
    • 3-6 Star (Sphere) Information, 2006
    • 3-7 Sphere Prototype Construction Images, 2006
    • 3-8 Sphere Fabrication, 2003-2008
    • 3-9 Sphere Wind Load Test, 2006
    • 3-10 Sphere Freezer Test, 2006
    • 3-11 Student Assistance, 2004-2006
    • 3-12 Photographer Search, 2006
    • 3-13 Film -Maker Search, 2003-2006
    • 3-14 Publisher Search, 2007
    • 3-15 Project Artist Statements, 2006-2008
  • CAE Box 28

    • 3-16 Project Budget, 2004-2006
    • 3-17 Camera Rental, 2006
    • 3-18 Project Logistics, 2005-2006
    • 3-19 Crating and Shipping, 2006
    • 3-20 Installation Location, 1977-2006
    • 3-21 NSF Correspondence, 2006
    • 3-22 Correspondence, Jean de Pomereu, 2006-2007
    • 3-23 Correspondence, Lionel Cousin, 2006
    • 3-24 Correspondence, Miscellaneous, 2005-2006

Additional Materials

  • CAE Box 21 Objects

    • 3-2#27-67 Preliminary Chalk Sketches, 2006
    • 3-2#68 Fanfold Artist Book, 2006
    • 3-8#29 All-Purpose Coveralls, 2004
  • CAE Box 85 Objects

    • 3-8#30 Sphere Maquette (1½” diameter), 2006
    • 3-8#31 Sphere Maquette (2” diameter), 2006
    • 3-8#32 Sphere Maquette (2½” diameter), 2006
    • 3-8#33 Sphere Maquette (3” diameter), 2006
    • 3-8#34 Sphere Maquette (4” diameter), 2006
  • CAE Box 86 Objects

    • 3-8#35 Sphere Maquette (5” diameter), 2006
    • 3-8#36 Sphere Maquette (6” diameter), 2006
    • 3-8#37 Blue Chalk Dust, 2006
    • 3-8#38 Blue Chalk Pieces, 2006
  • CAE Flat File F5 Oversized Items

    • 3-20#6 Labyrinth Quadrangle, Map, 1977
    • 3-20#7 Ross Ice Shelf, Map, 1980
  • CAE Flat File F20 Oversized Items

    • 3-2#72 Preliminary Chalk Sketch, 2006
  • CAE S-Box 5

    • 3-2#69 Concept Development Sketchbook (1), 2006
  • CAE S-Box 17

    • 3-2#70 Concept Development Sketchbook (2), 2006
    • 3-2#71 Preliminary Chalk Sketch, 2006

CAE1042/4 Series 4: Travel Logistics, 2006-2007

Series 4 contains materials relating to the process of deployment to Antarctica, including NSF forms and travel documents, correspondence, and photographs.
  • CAE Box 28

    • 4-1 Artist/Writers Planning Meeting, 2006
    • 4-2 I.T. Requirements, 2006
    • 4-3 Medical Paperwork for Deployment, 2006
    • 4-4 Travel Documents/Deployment, 2006-2007
    • 4-5 Travel & Deployment Images, 2006

CAE1042/5 Series 5: On the Ice, 1961-2007

Series 5 contains materials relating to the installation of Stellar Axis in Antarctica and includes Albuquerque’s journal, photographs, and ephemera.
  • CAE Box 28

    • 5-1 Antarctic Journal, 2006
    • 5-2 Snow School, 2006
    • 5-3 Installation Images and Materials, 1961-2006
    • 5-4 Stellar Axis in Situ, Images, 2006
    • 5-5 Helicopter Filming/Photography, 2006
    • 5-6 Stellar Axis Performance Images, 2006
    • 5-7 Deinstallation and Departure Images, 2006-2007
    • 5-8 Antarctic Ephemera, 2005-2006

Additional Materials

  • CAE Box 21 Objects

    • 5-2#11 Emergency Blanket, 2006
    • 5-3#59 Chalk Line Reel, not dated
    • 5-3#60 Chisel, not dated
  • CAE Flat File F20 Oversized Items

    • 5-3#61a Star Chart, 1961
    • 5-3#61b Star Chart, not dated

CAE1042/6 Series 6: Project Outcomes, 2006-2015

Series 6 contains material related to direct project outcomes including the film by team member Sophie Dia Pegrum and images by Jean de Pomereu.
  • CAE Box 28

    • 6-1 Exhibition Proposals, 2007-2009
    • 6-2 Exhibitions and Ephemera, 2007-2012
    • 6-3 77 Below, Film, 2006-2010
    • 6-4 Digital Materials, 2007-2010
    • 6-5 Jean de Pomereu Work Prints (1 of 2), 2006-2007
    • 6-6 Jean de Pomereu Work Prints (2 of 2), 2006
    • 6-7 Press Coverage, 2006-2012
    • 6-8 Book Publication Project, Nevada Museum of Art, 2011-2013
    • 6-9 Book Publication Project, Artist Information, 2012
    • 6-10 Book Publication Project, Artist Imagery (1 of 2), 2013
    • 6-11 Book Publication Project, Artist Imagery (2 of 2), 2013
    • 6-12 Book Publication Project, Research and Essay, William L. Fox, 2006-2013

Additional Materials

  • CAE Box 21 Objects

    • 6-2#1 Stellar Axis Star Cards, not dated

CAE1042/7 Series 7: Outreach/Education, 2004-2010

Series 7 contains materials related to outreach and educational events before and after the installation of Stellar Axis.
  • CAE Box 28

    • 7-1 InnerSpark Program, California State Summer School for the Arts, July 2004, 7/2004
    • 7-2 Palos Verdes Library District Presentation, 8/2004
    • 7-3 Fresno Art Museum Lecture, 7/9/2008
    • 7-4 Pacific Design Center Lecture, 2010
    • 7-5 Select PowerPoint Presentations, 2006