November 15, 2013 - February 9, 2014
Except for the sounds of the rookeries, the expansion and contraction of the ice, and the howl of the wind, Antarctica is very much like the soundless photographs presented in this exhibition.
Traveling along the ice shelves from Atka Bay to Halley Station, painter, naturalist and photographer J.J. L’Heureux turns her camera to the emperor penguins and their adaptations to the cold and wind of the continent.
On her first expedition to Antarctica, J.J. was overjoyed by the sheer variety of forms, colors and types of ice, all of which she photographed extensively. On this first trip she was introduced to four species of penguin: Adélie, gentoo, macaroni and chinstrap, all of which inhabit the Antarctic Peninsula. The next year J.J. made a rare crossing of the Weddell Sea aboard the Russian icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov, traveling down the South Sandwich Islands across the Weddell Sea to the Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf attached to Queen Maud Land and Coats Land. The expedition leadership was clear that such an itinerary was problematic and might not succeed, but if it did there would be numerous emperor penguin rookeries to be visited.
The expedition was genuinely historic. The weather was uncharacteristically perfect, and the ship traversed the hundreds of kilometers of the Riiser-Larsen all the way to Halley Station, making numerous zodiac and helicopter landings in what seemed to be endless sunshine and cloudless days. Emperor penguin rookeries provided amazing experiences and thousands of images. On the return trip, the captain initiated a course across the Weddell Sea similar to Ernest Shackleton’s voyage aboard the Endurance in the early 20th century. This crossing had not been made since Shackelton’s journey because ice always blocked the way. There was heavy sea ice in some areas, but the Russian vessel made a successful crossing of the Weddell Sea to the Antarctic Sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Painter, photographer, adventurer and naturalist – these are the words that describe the artist J.J. L’Heureux. Ms. L’Heureux made her first trip to Antarctica in 2000 where she collected digital images of ice and snow for a white-on-white color field series of “landscape” paintings. During this expedition she became fascinated by the wildlife and pristine environment she discovered there. Penguins, all types of seals, whales and the unique varieties of birdlife found in the Southern Ocean and its environs became living models for her in the wind-swept setting of the vast, icy wilderness that is Antarctica.
Since that initial trip, Ms. L’Heureux has returned to Antarctica every season where she continues to collect images for her extensive digital database. She has traveled as a passenger on a Russian icebreaker, as an art and photography lecturer on adventure cruises and on her own in a small motor sailor, the Golden Fleece. She also participated with The South African Penguin Study on Robben Island, South Africa, part of a project with The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).
Ms. L’Heureux’ travels have resulted in two books. The photographs of penguins in the Good Day Book came from thirteen different expeditions that she made to Antarctica, four of which were as a passenger on three different Russian icebreakers. Faces from the Southern Ocean, Ms. L’Heureux’ most recent book conveys the sense of intimacy she experienced when she first saw the ‘faces’ of the amazing wildlife that inhabited the desolate Antarctica continent. She was captivated by faces such as those of the Wandering Albatross, the Elephant Seal, the Emperor and Royal Penguins.
In January 2011, Ms. L'Heureux undertook her 11th expedition to the Ross Sea, Antarctica, with the Scott Expedition named after Admiral Robert Scott, the Antarctica explorer who died in 1912 while returning from his historic walk to the South Pole.
In June 2012, Ms. L’Heureux participated on a joint venture with the London Zoo in an on-going attempt to preserve a highly endangered, and barely known, Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the Kamchatka Region of Russia.
Ms. L’Heureux has exhibited extensively throughout galleries and museums in the United States and abroad. Recent selected solo exhibitions include Athy Heritage Museum, Athy, Ireland (2012), G2 Gallery, Venice, CA (2011), The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN (2010), North Museum, Lancaster, PA (2009), Fernbank Museum, Atlanta, GA (2008), and Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MO (2007).
J.J. L’Heureux lives and works out of her studio in Venice, CA. She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. J.J. attended the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, California, the Academy of Art, San Francisco, California, the Parsons School of Design, New York, New York, and Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan. She also completed a one-year course taught in conjunction with the San Francisco Zoological Society and the University of California that led to her becoming a certified docent at the San Francisco Zoo.