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Experiencing Antarctica: Airport exhibit shows off chilling continent

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
Jamie Stampur, of Lithia Springs, stops to take a look at a  
photograph of Antarctica's landscape, in the "Antarctica" exhibit,  
located at the transportation mall of Hartsfield-Jackson. The exhibit  
will be on display until February 2012.

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz Jamie Stampur, of Lithia Springs, stops to take a look at a photograph of Antarctica's landscape, in the "Antarctica" exhibit, located at the transportation mall of Hartsfield-Jackson. The exhibit will be on display until February 2012.

By M.J. Subiria Arauz

msubiria@news-daily.com

Blue, white and gray color patterns can be seen in the photographs

that make up Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's

newest art exhibit. The images capture a landscape foreign to most

passengers, according to a spokesman for the airport.

The exhibit, "Antarctica," includes roughly 50 different photographs

of the continent, said DeAllous Smith. It's located at the airport's

transportation mall, between concourses A and D, and is on display

until February 2012, he said.

"These beautiful landscapes capture the unique qualities of this

seldom-seen continent and are perfect to attract the interest of the

diverse passengers who pass through our airport every day," added

Katherine Dirga, airport art program manager at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Though the transportation mall was bustling with passengers, Dan

Pierce, of Ohio, managed to stop recently and study a photograph of a

majestic iceberg being illuminated by the sun's rays.

"They're neat," he said of the photographs. "I like the outdoor

stuff, and I am a big fan of pictures. I have a lot of them at home."

The photographs of Antarctica were captured in two weeks by

professional photographer, Santiago Vanegas, in January 2009,

according to Smith.

Vanegas said his experience on the frigid continent was incredible.

"Just being there was a huge, extremely humbling experience ... going

to a place that is so unbelievably beautiful and crucial to our

environment," said Vanegas, who lives in Midtown Atlanta.

He said Antarctica is the most exotic place he has visited.

Vanegas said he felt small and vulnerable while standing in the

middle of the icy environment. "If something happened, you are

extremely by yourself, thousands of miles away from civilization," he

said.

Vanegas said he witnessed global warming and learned how it affected

the continent.

"Impossible-to-reach places are more accessible due to global

warming ... One thing is to hear about it and the other is to see the

ice melting before your eyes," he said.

He said he also learned about how to identify old ice from new ice.

Ice with a deep, saturated blue color may be thousands of years old,

compared to soft, white ice, which is very recent.

Vanegas said the continent's climate forced him to photograph

differently and to take more photos.

Antarctica, said Vanegas, is almost abstract because a photographer

is only dealing with elements such as color and light.

"It was very challenging in a sense that everywhere I looked, it was

absolutely beautiful ... it is the most monochromatic place I've been

in, where you deal with your brightest white and your deepest black,"

he said.

He said he took the photos during summer in Antarctica, with

temperatures in the low 20s, and through 24 hours of daylight.

Vanegas said that through his photography, he wanted to show what one

would find in Antarctica. He said he purposefully avoided close-up

shots, so viewers could feel the vastness of the continent.

He said he went to Antarctica as part of an organized photo

expedition with other photographers.

"I'd like to go back in 15 years," Vanegas said.