'Lumber, Coal, Fawn Skins: An Exploration Revealed in Lists' by Heddi Siebel

Jan. 21 through Feb. 27, 2010
Opening reception: Thursday, Jan. 28, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Panel Discussion: TBA. Music by SNHU Student Ensemble

Anthony Fiala. Loading the Sleds in the Shelter of the Storehouse,1903, 11 x 14 inches

What would you bring to live for two years in the arctic? This multimedia installation unearths the supply lists of the failed Ziegler Polar Expedition of 1903. Using images of archival records, the installation evokes the explorers’ faith in and dependence on the most sophisticated technologies of the time as a means to succeed and advance a human cultural/political agenda – for America to be first to the North Pole. Are there lessons for our times in their disappointment?

An opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, in Robert Frost Hall (snow date Feb. 4).

In conjunction with the exhibit, a panel discussion, “Our Transforming Relationship with The Arctic,” will be held Thursday, Feb. 4, at 5:30 p.m. (snow date Feb.11).

The Installation
Inside the gallery, an installation imagines a glacier melting and revealing an expedition’s overconfidence and ultimate failure to reach the North Pole. Softly illuminated screens taut with hand-pulled prints on translucent paper form a mysterious visual narrative. Outside the gallery, five digitally restored reproductions of archival photography by the expedition’s commander and photographer, Anthony Fiala, tell another story.

In 1903 Fiala, a newspaper cartoonist and photographer from Brooklyn, N.Y., sailed to the Franz Josef Land islands with 38 men, 30 ponies and 218 dogs as part of the Ziegler Polar Expedition. Fiala prepared for the journey with the newest and finest materials available: a Bioscope 35mm motion picture camera, instant coffee tablets, powdered eggs, the toughest Siberian ponies, the strongest hickory wood sleds. The ship was crushed by ice, marooning them. The crew camped and made three attempts to reach the pole with dog and pony sleds.

Siebel is the granddaughter of Dr. John Colin Vaughan, an assistant surgeon on the Ziegler Expedition. Her journey to retrieve their story began in 1998 with a Fulbright Grant to retrace the expedition and paint the landscape as far north as 79 degrees north latitude.

About the Artist
Siebel is an adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design and has also taught at Wellesley College, the Massachusetts College of Art and Harvard University. She holds an M.F.A. from Yale University and a B.F.A. from RISD. Her work is in the collections of the MFA, Boston; the DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Mass.; the Boston Public Library; and the Yale Art Gallery. Support for this installation comes from a Rhode Island School of Design Faculty Development Grant.

Contact Us

Deborah Disston, Director of the Gallery
Phone: 603.629.4622
Email: m.gallery@snhu.edu