Contest Details

The WAIS Divide Art Contest has several eligible divisions and two categories. Please click here for a Contest Prospectus

Sorry, we received some amazing submissions - Thank you!!!  It is taking a little longer than expected to review them and decide on the final pieces for the exhibit. Please be patient we hope to have the announcement by the end of this week.


  • Secondary students (7th through 12th grade, students must not be graduated before May 2015).
  • Undergraduate students (affiliated with a college or university).
  • Elementary students (preK through 6th grade).
  • Community (graduate students, amateur artists, and emerging artists).
  • Professional artists.

All student divisions must provide a school contact (or home school agency) to confirm that you are still an active student. Undergradaute students please provide your primary field(s) of study (major).

Community and Professional artists must provide an art resume.


Data Exploration: Your art must interpret the data from the WAIS Divide Ice Core and related projects in a new way (all media allowed).

  • Uses data or imagery directly
  • Inspiration:
    • Anna McKee's Ice Series uses the data from radar and the ice itself. Also, she is working on a WAIS reliquary, similar to her Mt Waddington reliquary.
    • Paul Miller uses data  from the ice core directly in his musical compositions.

We suggest focusing on water isotopes, CO2 and methane gases, radar imagery, or imagery of ice samples. See the science and data available here.

WAIS Divide Inspiration: Your art must express ideas inspired by the science related to the WAIS Divide Ice Core project (all media allowed, you do not need to explicitly use data) such as the transformation of snow to ice, reading climate history in annual layers or ice, or the flow of ice sheets.

Types of Submissions

Visual WAIS: Your art must be a visual interpretation and exploration of the WAIS Divide Ice Core site and ideas. This can include sculpture or installation art (with limits). Consider looking through images of the field site and images of the ice core itself (and more available here).

  • Two-dimensional pieces must fit in a standard size frame (we recommend 16x20in or 24x30in, we will discuss framing individually with winners).
  • Any two-dimensional piece (such as a painting) should not exceed 1 inch in depth.
  • Three-dimensional or installation pieces must fit in a moderate size box that one person can carry (less than 40 pounds) and be straightforward to install without the artist present. Please discuss this with us if you have any concerns.

WAIS Words: Your art will use words (through story or poetry, spoken or written).

  • Written submissions should not exceed 1000 words.

Digital Multimedia WAIS: Your are must be a multimedia interpretation and exploration of the WAIS Divide Ice Core site and ideas. For inspiration, we recommend checking out the work by Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky).

  • Audio or Multimedia pieces should not exceed 8 minutes in length.

Submissions may be Individual or Collaborative:

A collaborative piece should have a designated lead artist, with all names of collaborators identified.

Selection of Winners

We select winners to create an exhibit of approximately 15 pieces which represents a mix of both categories and all types of submissions. With our emphasis on the secondary school division, we anticipate roughly a mixed exhibit with an emphasis on secondary and undergraduate students such as:

  • Secondary Division: 5 winners
  • Undergraduate Division: 4 winners
  • Elementary Division: 2 winners
  • Community Division: 3 winners
  • Professional Artists - 1 winner

Submission process

All artwork must be original except for having a basis in the publicly available WAIS Divide photos or data sets. Each submission much credit the original photos or data set that the work is based on.

Each artist may submit no more than one individual piece and be involved in no more than one collaborative piece.

For each submission, please submit at least one of the following:

  • maximum of 4 images (limit 2MB each) representing your work.
  • audio file (recommend mp3, limit 20MB) if your work is an audio composition.
  • video link (please use vimeo or youtube or similar) if the video is your Multimedia WAIS entry (video of a painting is not allowed).
  • a PDF document if you are submitting a WAIS Words submission.


  • Names and contact information for each artist (including all collaborators).
  • Community submissions (amateur and emerging artists) must submit their art resume. 
  • A written explanation of the relationship between your work and the WAIS Divide Ice Core (2000 characters maximum).
Scientist Erin Pettit expressing her inner artist inside a snowpit at WAIS Divide in January 2015.

Scientist Erin Pettit expressing her inner artist inside a snowpit at WAIS Divide in January 2015.


Antarctica Day: December 1, 2015


Criteria for Judging

  1. Strong and clear thematic connection with WAIS Divide paleoclimate research (uses data, images, or concepts closely).

  2. Creative and original representation.

  3. Quality of artistic composition and overall design based on the theme.

  4. Well written, clear explanation of piece (understandable by your peers).

  5. Overall impression of the art.

Scientist Judges

(subject to change)

Erin Pettit (University of Alaska Faribanks, National Geographic Emerging Explorer 2013)

Ken Taylor (Desert Research Institute) (to be confirmed)

Rachel Obbard (Dartmouth College) (to be confirmed)

Peter West  (National Science Foundation) (to be confirmed)

Ed Brook (Oregon State University)

T.J. Fudge (University of Washington)

more to come!

Educator Judges

(subject to change)

Yamini Bala (Polartrec teacher and Chicago area high school integrated science Teacher)

Erica Wallstrom (2014-2015 NSF Albert Einstein Fellow and high school science teacher)

more to come!