Due to construction, Museum parking may be limited at the time of your visit. Look for additional parking in free or metered spaces along nearby streets.
Back to Collection

Chris Kannen: An Antarctic Extended Season


Summary Note

Chris Kannen spent February-April 2008 in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica, gathering reference material for a series of oil paintings. He created studies outdoors while based at the Lake Hoare field camp that consisted of an experimental mix of representational and abstract images. Materials include inkjet work prints, drawings and watercolor studies, digital images, various NSF documents, and a PDF of his Antarctica blog.

Biographical Note

Chris Kannen was born on July 7, 1977 in Cleveland, Ohio. As a child he was involved with programs at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. After becoming an Eagle Scout, he worked as a Ranger at the Philmont wilderness camp in New Mexico, teaching group of teens low impact camping methods and wilderness ethics. He studied illustration and fine art at the University of Dayton, where he also participated in volunteer programs to help the needy in Appalachia, Mexico, Haiti, and Central America. These experiences profoundly affected his decision to become an artist.

In 2001, Chris completed the Master of Fine Art program in Painting at Hunter College in New York City. Afterward, he traveled to Alaska, and completed an Alaskan-influenced body of work that was shown in two gallery shows in New York. He then applied for and was awarded a residency with The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists in December 2004, where he began a series of paintings that were later prominently featured in the 2005 Scope New York International Art Fair and in "After the Arctic," his New York solo show debut at PH Gallery. Chris is currently making paintings in his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and is a production assistant at the DesignTrust for Public Space, a not-for-profit organization that creates public/private partnerships to improve public space in New York City.

Scope and Content

Kannen spent February-April 2008 in the Dry Valleys gathering reference material for a series of oil paintings. He was in the valleys for what they called "the extended season," the first time a research group stayed past mid-February. The source material consists of thousands of digital photographs and several hours of standard definition video footage, both of which he has edited down. The material was still very much an influence on his paintings as late as 2013.

During the month of April 2008 at Lake Fryxell Camp and at McMurdo Station, he created a body of works on paper consisting of drawings, watercolors and oil paintings. Based on field sketches, the work is an experimental mix of representational and abstract images intended to push the limits of what he had seen previously produced by other artist and writer grantees. The work employed collage, a local color palette, and in some cases, liquid nitrogen to affect the drying movement of the watercolors.

Materials include inkjet work prints made since Kannen’s 2008 trip to Antarctica, a set of highly abstract prints of the Victoria Valley sand dunes, drawings and watercolor studies on paper from McMurdo Station and the Taylor Valley field camps, digital images, various NSF documents, and a PDF of his Antarctica blog.


Chris Kannen: An Antarctic Extended Season is organized into 35 folders chronologically. Folders 1-3 contain materials related to the NSF proposal and subsequent blog, folders 4-5 contain working photographs and sketches, while folders 6-34 contain digital images taken during Kannen’s time in Antarctica. Folders 6-34 are organized by date and location. Folder 35 contains Kannen’s work with Mike Davis to prepare a book edit and sequencing.The entire archive is organized chronologically.

Inclusive Dates


Bulk Dates


Quantity / Extent

1.25 cubic feet



Related Archive Collections

  • CAE1042: Lita Albuquerque: Stellar Axis, Antarctica
  • 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 from 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
  • CAE1605: Anna McKee: 68,000 Years of Ice
  • CAE1806: Bruce Licher: Stamping Antarctica
  • CAE1910: Helen Glazer: Walking in Antarctica

Related Publications

Fogg, G.E., and David Smith. The Explorations of Antarctica: The Last Unspoilt Continent. London: Cassell Publishers Limited, 1990.

Fox, William L. Terra Antarctica: Looking into the Emptiest Continent. San Antonio, TX: Trinity University Press, 2005.

Klipper, Stuart. The Antarctic: From the Circle to the Pole. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2008.

Myers, Joan. Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey. Washington, DC; New York, NY: Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service; Smithsonian Books, 2006.

Container Listing:

  • CAE Box 59

    • Folder 1 9 Digital Images: Mar. 18, 2008, Lake Vanda
    • Folder 2 9 Digital Images: Mar. 28, 2008, Aerial Reconnaissance
    • Folder 3 5 Mike Davis Photography Book Edit and Sequencing 2012
    • Folder 4 Working Sketches 2008
    • Folder 5 Work Prints 2008
    • Folder 6 Digital Images: Feb. 15, 2008, C-17 Arrival
    • Folder 7 Digital Images: Feb. 16-17, 2008, McMurdo Station
    • Folder 8 Digital Images: Feb. 18-19, 2008, Willy Field
    • Folder 9 Digital Images: Feb. 22-23, 2008, Lake Hoare

Additional Materials

    CAE Flat File F17 Oversized Items

    • 5#61 Sand dune detail, Victoria Valley, 2008
    • 5#62 Weather monitor detail, Crary Lab, McMurdo, 2008
    • 5#63 Sunset and cirrus clouds, Lake Hoare, Taylor Valley, 2008
    • 5#64 Figure in front of glacier, Taylor Valley, 2008
    • 5#65 Sand dune formation, Victoria Valley, 2008
    • 5#66 Interior, mountain tent, Lake Hoare Camp, Taylor Valley, 2008
    • 5#67 "Box of Rocks" test print (1 of 3), 2008
    • 5#68 "Box of Rocks" test print (2 of 3), 2008
    • 5#69 "Box of Rocks" test print (3 of 3), 2008
    • 5#70 Ventifact, Taylor Valley, 2008
    • 5#71 Boulder buried in gravel, Taylor Valley, 2008
    • 5#72 Ventifact, Taylor Valley