Arctic Circle Expeditions News

The Arctic Circle – Artist & Scientist Residency Program

The Arctic Circle is a nexus where art intersects science, architecture, education, and activism – an incubator for thought and experimentation for artists and innovators who seek out and foster areas of collaboration to engage in the central issues of our time. Artist and scientist led, The Arctic Circle is an annual expeditionary residency program. Established in 2009, The Arctic Circle brings together international artists of all disciplines, scientists, architects, and educators who collectively explore the high-Arctic Svalbard Archipelago and Arctic Ocean aboard a specially outfitted Barquentine sailing vessel. The Arctic Circle provides a shared experience for its participants to engage in the myriad issues relevant to our time and to develop professionally through fieldwork and research, interdisciplinary collaborations, exhibit opportunities, and public and classroom engagement. The Arctic Circle program supports the creation and exhibition of new and pioneering work, and aims to empower the creative individual while fostering the collaborative.

The Arctic Circle – Artist & Scientist Residency Program

Thank you to the Ontario Arts Council.

Crossing Selected Works


When people get lost, in the desert or thick forest, for example, they tend to walk in circles. Lacking objective points of reference, they curve around in loops, all the while believing they are walking in a straight line. I have used this idea of going in circles as an analogy for our current situation, especially in dealing with climate change. ‘Fake news’ and convenient forgetting feed a collective inability to see what is happening right in front of us, and so lost… we go in circles.

Playing this out visually through large scale drawings done on a frozen lake, I have used a snowmobile to depict images of an endless circling. The drawings are photographed from above using a camera equipped drone. The choice of a snowmobile as the fumy, intrusive, and ludicrous drawing implement intentionally questions how we inscribe ourselves on a place and with what means. One day while I was photographing, a group of deer crossed straight through the drawing, undeterred by the chaotic lines there. The deer’s direct, unswerving path stands in sharp contrast to the drawing, reversing the rational/ predictable with the irrational/ wild nature of who laid which tracks.

Crossing, 2019


Image 1 of 4

Crossing News

Blake Gopnik on Art

Oct 30, 2017

THE WEEKLY PIC: This is a detail from Laura Millard’s big, backlit image called “Crossing,” now on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, in the show called “Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood.” (Click on my image to see Millard’s full piece.)

Canada’s nationhood, up for grabs in the AGO show, has always been built around ideas of nature, winter and wildlife. Millard’s piece addresses all three: It shows a vast “drawing” that she cut into a snowy landscape with a snowmobile, then photographed with the help of a drone. Passing deer decided to add their own touch, and I’m particularly pleased with how the contribution of such “disorderly” beasts is perfectly rectilinear, whereas the drawing they tread on, made by a supposedly “rational” human, is a knotted mess.

Since its founding as a nation state, and before, Canada has treated the natural world as a blank slate on which its colonists had the right to make whatever mark they chose. Millard has taken that literally, using the messiest, noisiest, smelliest drawing tool she could find.  Her piece is both deeply abstract, in a Pollock-ian mode – Jackson, too, liked to work on the horizontal – and as tied to the world and its troubles as any art could be.

Do her three passing deer provide hope that nature may yet overwrite humanity’s mark? Or are we more likely to read them as a sign that nature is being scribbled out?

Recursive Traces Selected Works

Recursive Traces

Collaborating with artist Simone Jones, who made the sound component, Recursive Traces is an installation where backlit snowmobile drawings and sound have been inserted into an abandoned concrete silo that once contained theme park displays of ice and foam icebergs. Our intent was to create a dizzying environment of sound, light, sculpture, and image that focused on the absurd reconstructions of an environment in peril.

Recursive Traces was presented as part of In/Future at Ontario Place, curated by ArtSpin. The environment is the abandoned “Ice Silo” that had been part of ‘The Wonderful World of Weather’ when Ontario Place was open. The styrofoam icebergs were recovered from the garbage and reinstalled as were the glacier photos.

This 11-day exhibition has transformed the desolate remains of Ontario Place into a remarkable new platform displaying the projects and performances of over 100 Artist & Musicians.