At first glance, Zaria Forman’s dramatic landscapes of melting icecaps and crashing surf could be easily mistaken for photographs; in actuality, they’re hyper-realist pastel drawings. The majority of Forman’s work is informed by the threat of climate change, and her drawings squarely place the viewer in front of a slow-moving yet unavoidable tension that reflects humankind and nature’s shared predicament. Her recent series Greenland 2012: Chasing the Light, for example, captures the the glory and sadness of the country’s melting coastline. Another series, The Maldives, addresses the other end of the geographical spectrum — Earth’s lowest-lying place, which is already suffering drastic consequences from rising sea levels.
The Brooklyn-based artist has exhibited her work in galleries across the U.S., and a collection of of her drawings became the set design for the ballet Giselle in Geneva. But Forman’s work has found its way into popular culture as well, gracing the walls of Claire Underwood’s office in Netflix’s House of Cards. Perhaps the set designers felt the tenuous subject matter of Forman’s work was the appropriate backdrop for the Underwood’s precarious empire. After all, if art imitates life, then perhaps Forman’s drawings, like the Underwoods’ antics, will evoke a pathos in our view of human political and moral achievements.
All images courtesy of Zaria Forman, except where noted. Click any image below to launch the gallery.