Dr. Peter Wasilewski

As a NASA scientist, Dr. Peter Wasilewski used to play with rocks. He researched the magnetic properties of meteorites, Moon rocks and Earth rocks – wherever they were found. His passion for scientific quests led him to turn down a tryout for the Baltimore Colts professional football team so that he could participate in an expedition to the world’s largest piece of ice – Antarctica.

Peter fell in love with the frozen continent and has been back on 6 different expeditions over 25 years. During an early exploration near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula Peter trod where no human had set foot before and there stands an ancient volcano that bears his name-Mount Wasilewski. Later expeditions would have him collecting meteorites on the pale blue ice near the Trans-Antarctic mountains. He would sample this ice and learn about the “color” and shape of the ice crystals that could be seen in thin sections of the ice. Now Dr. Peter Wasilewski plays with ice. Painting with light on a canvas of ice.


Frozen Water

Water, as ice, is one of the most widespread, intriguing, and familiar compounds on the planet, in the solar system, and beyond. On this planet it falls as snow, forms lacy deposits on winter windows, creates skating surfaces on lakes, gracefully drapes rock cliffs, packs thickly on the polar oceans, and lays even thicker on the ice caps blanketing Greenland and Antarctica.


Beyond the planet Earth, ice is present in the frozen oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa, in the particles of Saturn’s rings, and in the spectacular tails of passing comets. Beyond the Solar System, many light years beyond the Earth, ice is present in the dense molecular clouds of the regions where new stars form.


FRIZIONs - Frozen Visions

How does a Frizion evolve? Thin layers of water are frozen, manipulated, and viewed through polarized light. Light has wave-like properties, one of which is vibration. Ordinary white light vibrates in many directions, but a polarizing filter blocks all light except that which is vibrating in a single direction. A polarizing filter is placed on a light table to polarize the light passing through. A petri dish with a thin layer of water in the process of freezing is placed over the filter. As the polarized light passes through the forming ice crystals, it is bent in two slightly different directions and forms two different rays of light. The color palette in the images is created by rotating a second polarizing filter placed over the ice to intercept and resolve these emerging light rays.


The eye and brain combine the mixture of physical colors to produce a striking color impression. I began to control the way the ice grows, into forms I desired, always with color as my guide. Simple forms, detailed and complex forms, and forms that simply happened, as though I imagined them, established my medium. Ice growth became the landscape, and thickness and the polarizer sheet morphed into my color palette.