Zaria Forman's glacier drawings are cooler than cool. They're ice cold.

When you stare into one of Zaria Forman's iceberg drawings, you can almost see your breath in the air.

Using pastels on paper, Forman brings to life photorealistic drawings of glaciers, icebergs, and waves that astound the eye.

"B-15Y Iceberg, Antarctica no. 1" by Zaria Forman, used with permission.


Each drawing can take anywhere from a few weeks to three months or more depending on its size and scale. Forman prefers pastels because of their simplicity and light touch. And despite the grand scale of her projects, she rarely uses an eraser.

"I love the simplicity of the process, and it has taught me a great deal about letting go," she explains over e-mail.

More than just beautiful, Forman's work is an accessible entry point to an important conversation.

She has dedicated her career to highlighting the effects of climate change through her art. By focusing on visuals of melting ice and warming water, she hopes her work will inspire others to act and protect these pristine places from further destruction.

"I hope to facilitate a deeper understanding of the climate crisis, helping us find meaning and optimism in these shifting landscapes," she writes. "I hope my drawings serve as records of landscapes in flux, documenting the transition, and inspiring our global community to take action for the future."

"Maldives no.15" by Zaria Forman, used with permission.

"Cierva Cove, Antarctica no. 2" by Zaria Forman, used with permission.

Forman's work has attracted a lot of attention, with her pieces going viral across the Internet — a sure sign that her mission to use art to raise awareness about the effects of climate change is working. She's constantly looking to hone her craft and share her work and message with new audiences.

In 2015, Forman participated in a four-week art residency aboard the National Geographic Explorer, where she saw things most people only dream of seeing.

The trip was her first visit to the bottom of the planet, and two years later, words still can't do the experience justice. "In all my travels I have never experienced a landscape as epic and pristine as Antarctica," she writes.

"Errera Channel, Antarctica no. 2" by Zaria Forman, used with permission.

On the trip, Forman explored Whale Bay on the western side of the peninsula. There, wind and waves carry icebergs into the bay, where they get stuck in the shallow water and melt slowly, creating "iceberg graveyards."

It's a sight she'll never forget and one she knew she had to preserve in pastels. "Our little boat circled around the most astonishing, intricately sculpted, glowing blue icebergs I have ever seen," Forman writes, still in awe of the experience. "I had no idea there were so many shades of bright sapphire blues!"

A process shot of Forman completing "Whale Bay, Antarctica no. 4," used with permission.

Forman has since returned to Antarctica and Greenland to join NASA's Operation IceBridge, a project mapping the geometry of the ice at the North and South Poles. For two weeks, Forman flew with the IceBridge crew soaring 1,500 feet above the glaciers and sea ice, gaining yet another new perspective few have ever seen.

Forman's work is a beautiful yet grim reminder that there's not time to waste.

Climate change impacts the way we live and the planet we love. From losing our traditions and way of life to putting our planet's remarkable natural spaces and wildlife in jeopardy, there is no shortage of reasons to act.

"Cierva Cove, Antarctica no. 1" by Zaria Forman, used with permission.

You can see Forman's work in a solo show at Winston Wächter Fine Art in Seattle through Nov. 4, 2017.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

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