Retired Keene State College associate professor Peter Roos made a trip to Greenland in September, 2019 for a photographic workshop, organized by photographers John Paul Copenargo and Seth Resnick. You can see the results of the workshop on the walls of the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery right now.
Roos started teaching at KSC in 1990 where he taught painting, drawing, watercolor, senior seminar and printmaking. He retired three years ago. Roos now lives in Walpole with his wife where he practices photography and drawing in his studio.
Last semester, starting January 2020, Roos ran a figure drawing studio workshop at the Thorne-Sagendorph Gallery. The workshop was open to the artists in the community and to KSC students. The workshop got cancelled after the pandemic started.
Last year, Roos spent about 11 days in the widest fjord system in the world, Greenland’s Scoresby Sund for the workshop. Roos explained his experience as “remarkable.” He said, “Until you see some of these huge icebergs in front of you, you just have no concept of how immense they are.”
Roos said that all of his team members met in Iceland and they took a very small jet plane to an airport on the eastern coast of Greenland. He further said that they took zodiac inflatable boats to get into the main boat that was an old sailing boat called “The Rembrandt.” Roos described everyday as another adventure, “We would anchor the main boat some place and we’d get into two different zodiacs exploring the different icebergs.”
The photos taken during the day were reviewed every evening as a part of the workshop according to him. Roos also spent some time in his cabin drawing in his sketchbook from photographs and from things he saw during the trip.
Roos said that they had certain protocols where they could get close to the small icebergs; close enough to touch them whereas for bigger icebergs, they had to maintain a certain distance. He clarified further by saying, “We had to be careful because not only [do] the icebergs sometimes shed big chunks of ice, but what’s more dangerous is when they do that, they become unstable and they can rotate and turn upside down.”
Roos has been to many photo expeditions in the past and has had his shows at KSC as a faculty before. He thought about putting up this specific work in Thorne because he found the photographs of the icebergs really unusual. He further described, “I had them professionally printed by a company that prints onto aluminum and so the prints themselves are pretty extraordinary in how they are made and the colors are very vibrant and rich.”
When asked about his favorite work, Roos started narrating a story of a specific photograph that he thinks people might like.
He began by saying, “One day, it was too windy of a day to go out on the zodiac so we were going up the fjord in the main boat and one of the guys spotted a polar bear swimming off to the side and we went along with the polar bear for a while.”
He further said, “After lunch, the polar bear had climbed onto an iceberg near the boat and we all just dropped our forks and knives and ran up and grabbed our cameras.”
According to the artist statement in the Thorne, Roos said, “As climate change and global warming erodes this environment, it becomes pertinent to record this landscape.”
Roos called this trip a trip of a lifetime.
Roos gave a shout out to his instructor Caponigro as well. He said, “I can’t say enough good things about John… I can spot a good teacher when I see one and he is a really excellent teacher. He brought out the best in everybody.”
According to Caponigro’s website, “John Paul Caponigro is a creative visual artist who exhibits, writes, lectures and teaches seminars and digital photography workshops and digital printing workshops.”
Roos was scheduled to go to Antarctica for February 2021 which is now rescheduled to be in 2022 due to the pandemic. According to his artist statement, “I saw this [trip] as a test run for an eventual adventure to Antarctica, which has been a lifelong quest-well life long since reading, “Mr. Poppers Penguins” in fourth grade!”
The show hasn’t had an official opening, so far, due to the pandemic.
Faculty coordinator at Thorne Sagendorph Art gallery and KSC art professor Paul McMullan said that the artist’s statement will be up with the photos starting October 22. Along with the artist statement, visitors will also be able to see the letters sent by Roos to his wife along with some additional pictures. The collection will be taken down on December 4 according to McMullan.
McMullan said, “They [the photographs] are beautiful, they are kind of surreal, it just takes you to a whole other place.”
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