What It's Like To Be The Only Painter In Antarctica

You’ve heard about artists suffering for their work. Lily Simonson had to work fast, before her subjects swam away or before her paint froze. Simonson spent several months in 2014 as the only artist in Antarctica. It wasn’t the weather that drew her there, but the beauty of the continent and its wildlife, which she saw in photographs a scientist brought back.

"When he showed me photos of life under the sea, i just knew immediately that to me, that was the most beautiful place in the world," she says. "I thought, I have to see it for myself."

After an early foray with a geologist who "needed an extra pair of hands," Simonson found another patron: the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, which has shipped poets, photographers, filmmakers, and historians to the bottom of the world since the 1980s. Creatives who make the cut spend three months living alongside scientists at McMurdo Station, the continent's (relatively) bustling metropolis.

Simonson Antarctic works are the subject of an exhibition at CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles through May. Read her story and see more paintings of Antarctica at Atlas Obscura.  

(Image credit: Lily Simonson)

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