at Length

Ice Notes

Cheryl Leonard and Oona Stern

In the fall of 2011, composer Cheryl Leonard and visual artist Oona Stern sailed around Svalbard, a remote archipelago above the Arctic Circle. They had first met in the Arctic in 2008, when both arrived on individual grants from the National Science Foundation. They connected on the ice, and committed to making the collaborative portrait you see below.

The following images, journal entries and recordings are the arranged raw material from Leonard and Stern’s experiences at two specific sites: Coraholmen, an island north of Longyearbyen, and the Monaco glacier at the northern tip of Spitsbergen. At this writing, Leonard and Stern are still creating multilayered installations for each Arctic site they visited, diving into the affinity they feel for this terrain. One of the installations, featured at the Insomnia Future Music and Techno Festival in Norway, brings the Monacobreen surge glacier to life and is included in the video below. —Elaine Bleakney


Cheryl Leonard is a composer, performer and instrument builder. She is the recipient of grants from the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, ASCAP, American Composers Forum, and Meet the Composer. Leonard’s commissions include works for Kronos Quartet, Illuminated Corridor and Michael Straus. She lives and works in San Francisco.

Oona Stern is a Brooklyn-based visual artist whose installations call attention to history, urban development and cultural practice. Past installations include the sound of grass growing, for Bloomberg NY, and island path, a ‘drawing’ landscaped into the lawn on Governor’s Island in New York City. deDomination, a poster project, was installed in the New York City subway. Stern’s work has been exhibited at galleries including Diaz Contemporary in Toronto and Castelli Gallery in New York. She is the recipient of grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts and others.


Monacobreen installation by Cheryl Leonard and Oona Stern
Audio, video, rocks, paint; 2011
Installed at Kurant Gallery for the Insomnia Future Music and Techno Festival
Tromsø, Norway