Polar Soundscapes brings artctic cold to Augustana

Polar+Soundscapes+by+LuAnna+Gerdemann

Polar Soundscapes by LuAnna Gerdemann

Wednesday, January 11th, Polar Soundscapes came to Augustana.  Polar Soundscapes is a collaboration project by artists Oona Stern and Cheryl Leonard.  Leonard described Polar Soundscapes as “a performance of music pieces about the polar region”.

Polar Soundscapes is comprised of natural objects as instruments like penguin bones, rocks, and shells from Antarctica together with field recordings of ice and wind.  Stern edited some of her videos from Antarctica so that it is a back in forth exchange with Leonard’s compositions.

Stern and Leonard met in Antarctica while they both had National Sciences Foundation residencies.  Leonard explained that the collaboration happened almost by coincidence since they were roommates and spent almost 24 hours together every day in Antarctica.  Since their meeting in Antarctica and the conception of Polar Soundscapes, the pair has collaborated on several other projects.

“My three most life changing experiences were getting married, having a kid, and going to Antarctica,” said Stern. Stern said that working with Leonard was a fantastic opportunity for her to broaden into performance and audio.

Leonard said that Polar Soundscapes is “a really great opportunity to get a window to remote places that are very hard to visit yourself”.  Stern agreed and says that Polar Soundscapes highlights different ways to think and connect to the world and hopefully opens young minds to this kind of experience.

“Polar Soundscapes is one of the events surrounding Augustana’s current exhibition which is called art above 66 degrees and 33 minutes which is the latitudes or the Arctic and Antarctic circles,” said Claire Kovacs, the director of Augustana’s Teaching Museum of Art. 

Kovacs collaborated with the center for polar studies on the exhibit and saidthat she had to have Polar Soundscapes on campus.  To Kovacs, the project is a great symbol of collaboration and lets the teaching museum exist beyond the galleries’ walls.

Kovacs hopes students who visit the exhibit or went to the Polar Soundscapes performance will leave with a greater interest in the polar regions.

“It is essential for the museum do these types of exhibitions where we are thinking collaboratively, thinking about a liberal arts experience, bringing a variety of voices to the table which allows us to consider the complexity of a topic,” said Kovacs.