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Pigment on 99 fiberglass spheres, dimensions vary.

Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica


In 2006, Artist Lita Albuquerque led an expedition to the farthest reaches of Antarctica near the South Pole to create the first installment of her global work Stellar Axis. The expedition was aided by a grant from the National Science Foundation and was the first and largest ephemeral art work created on the continent. The resulting installation consisted of an array of ninety nine fabricated blue spheres. The placement of each corresponded to the location of one of 99 specific stars in the Antarctic sky above, creating an earthly constellation at the earth’s pole. As the planet rotated and followed its orbit the displacement between the original positions of the stars and the spheres drew an invisible spiral of the earth's spinning motion. 


The Stellar Axis Expedition’s journey to the ice included a team of experts, researchers, and artists with Albuquerque at the helm. Their sole purpose was to pursue and materialize a sculpture and ephemeral event on a scale and in a place that was completely unprecedented. 


Photography by Jean de Pomereu.

Stellar Axis Archive
The Nevada Museum of Art, Center for Art + Environment is home to Lita Albuquerque’s Stellar Axis archive containing correspondence, grant applications, maps, journals, photographs, and a video of “Stellar Axis” created in the Antarctic in 2006. Access the Archive’s finding aid here.


Stellar Axis Book
In 2014 the Nevada Museum of Art and Skira Rizzoli published the first monograph on American environmental artist Lita Albuquerque. Designed by award-winning Los Angeles-based designer and creative director for the Nevada Museum of Art Brad Bartlett.  Texts by William L. Fox, director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno and Ann M. Wolfe, senior curator and deputy director at the Nevada Museum of Art. Introduction by Selma Holo, a professor of art history and director of the Fisher Museum of Art at USC in L.A. Foreword by Roger F. Malina, executive editor of Leonardo publications at M.I.T. Press and professor of physics at the University of Texas at Dallas. Available for purchase here.

All images courtesy Brad Bartlett Design, Los Angeles, and the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno.

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