The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday March 27th

Artist speaks with Chapel Hill children as part of UNC Earth Week

Wearing the same red parka that she wore during her explorations, artist and polar explorer Nerys Levy showed her travels to an eager crowd from young children to grandparents Wednesday night.

Levy and others spoke at “Polar Exploration: Captivating Tales of Polar Explorers,” an event in conjunction with UNC Earth Week 2010 and the ongoing exhibit “Ice Counterpoint: Encounters in Antarctica and the Arctic” at the FedEx Global Education Center.

Ice Counterpoint showcases paintings by Levy, photographs by UNC music professor Brooks de Wetter-Smith and sculptures by McDougle Middle School students.

Levy said she helped the students create the sculptures while she was the artist-in-residence at the school.

Laura Griest, events coordinator for the Office of International Affairs, said the event was geared toward children, but both children and adults turned out to hear the speakers.

Levy opened the event with a 20-minute slide show on the history of polar exploration.

De Wetter-Smith followed Levy with a solo flute performance.

The sounds of Arctic nature played as images of Antarctica and the Arctic, including glaciers, packed ice, seals and penguins, flashed on the screen.

“Penguins in Antarctica are about as common as trees in America,” said de Wetter-Smith when pictures of penguins were shown.

Jose Rial, professor of geophysics, and Rose Cory, assistant professor in environmental sciences and engineering, have both conducted scientific studies in Arctic lands, and they recounted their adventures in the cold and blustery places.

In addition to the stories from the polar explorers, there was discussion on global warming.

Rial said that the ice in Greenland is melting, causing the sea levels to rise, and that it is our choice to protect the planet.

The future of the planet and the human race are permanently embraced, de Wetter-Smith said.

Despite the serious discussion on global warming, the overall mood of the event was inspiring.

Brynn Presler-Marshall, a sixth grader at Smith Middle School, attended the event.

“I liked the flute music and the picture of the penguin,” she said.

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