Greenland #63 (Courtesy of the artist Zaria Forman )
Greenland #69 (Courtesy of the artist Zaria Forman )
Greenland #62 (Courtesy of the artist Zaria Forman )
Greenland #70 (Courtesy of the artist Zaria Forman )

Can Fingerpainting Save the World?

Brooklyn artist Zaria Forman has Arctic landscapes at her fingertips

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

Zaria Forman’s ominous landscapes of ice and water could easily be mistaken for photographs. But they’re actually an advanced kind of finger painting. Wearing latex surgical gloves to protect her hands, she rubs soft pastels on paper and spreads them with her fingertips. “Since I was little,” says the 32-year-old artist who lives in Brooklyn, “it just seemed like the most natural way to move the material around.” She created the 4- by 6-foot Greenland #63 after leading an expedition of artists that revisited the 1869 Arctic voyage of the American painter William Bradford. Comparing photos and sketches made during his trip with landscapes she encountered, she saw signs of climate change, such as receding glaciers. Her drawings, one on display at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Indiana, convey the Arctic’s “pristine allure,” she says, “as well as the imminent threat of rising temperatures.”

About Max Kutner
Max Kutner

Max Kutner was the editorial intern for Smithsonian. He is now a staff writer at Newsweek and has contributed to Boston magazine and other publications.

Read more from this author |

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus