Three Explorers Utilize Photography: Capturing the Ends of the Earth and Beyond

Gallery 6 Exhibition Title: Terrestrial Portals
Exhibition Dates: January 11 - March 29, 2019
Reception: Friday February 1, 5-7pm, during the Dover Art Walk
Artists: Cassandra Klos, Justin Levesque, Michael James Murray

About the Exhibit:

The most wild frontiers can be those in which life tries the hardest. Forget about animal predators: the most awe-inspiring and powerful force is the environment itself. Three artists: Cassandra Klos, Justin Levesque, and Michael James Murray, are fascinated by the challenge and allure of such landscapes. Through photographs of vast horizons; sometimes altered, and sometimes seemingly untouched, their work chronicles the intrepid results of human exploration. Klos, Levesque, and Murray raise notions of existence, connection, and adaptation.

In this exhibition, brown and red toned Utah soil meets pure white and blue Arctic ice. 360 degree “spherescapes” of the Earth are just peculiar enough to reference other worlds. Through missions on the Mars Desert Research Station (Klos), to Iceland and the North Pole (Levesque), to our coastal Maine backyards and beyond (Murray), Terrestrial Portals takes us on a journey to both new and familiar places. Through insightful panoramas, each artist puts our imaginations to work.

These land portraits ask us to picture ourselves behind photographer’s camera. What outfit do you think you would wear on Mars? How would you keep warm and dry in negative degree temperatures? How might you respond to completely foreign surroundings? You would you learn how to use specialized technology, skills, and tools. You would acclimate. Soon, your eyes would adjust to the bright reflective sun, and you would develop the language necessary to communicate with mission control. Your livelihood would require a new normal.

The concept of solitude might come to mind as you look at these photographs. Consider how explorers leave their hometowns, family, and friends, and head for the unknown. Choice, and the possibility for return, let us call this experience “adventure”. Virtual contact helps travelers feel connected, and sharing networks allow them to shape their own narrative. Alone-ness, and consequently, space itself, have evolved literal and figurative meanings in the digital age.

The sharp detail depicted in these images shows us that on our very own Planet Earth, there are endless, beautiful vistas waiting to be found. Open your eyes wide, for Terrestrial Portals.


No admission fee is required to view the art in Gallery 6. Regular admission applies for families who wish to also explore the rest of the Museum. To learn more about this art exhibition or about the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire please visit

Artists’ Biography and Statement:

Cassandra Klos

Bio: Cassandra Klos is a Boston-based artist. Born and raised in New Hampshire, she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2014 from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston at Tufts University. Her projects focus on manipulating the validity of photography and creating dual realities that breathe life into situations where visual manifestations may not be available. Her photographs have been featured in group exhibitions across the United States and in solo exhibitions at the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, Massachusetts and the Piano Craft Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts. Her work has been published in The Atlantic and The Boston Globe and her photojournalism reporting has been published in TIME Magazine and Wired. She is a Critical Mass finalist, the recipient of the Yousuf Karsh Prize in Photography, a United States Emerging Photographer Award from the Magenta Foundation, as well as a Traveling Fellowship Grant from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2017 she continued her role as artist-in-residence of the Mars Desert Research Station and led the first mission of compiled of artists as Commander of Crew 181.

Statement: We are inundated with information about the cosmos, whether it is the appearance of water on a different planet or landing our man-made satellite on a comet. It is clear we are awed by this celestial imagery we cannot comprehend, and yet this unknown contributes to a need for exploration past our comfortable bounds. The interest of expanding the human race onto the planets around us is not a new concept, but only since the last few decades has the scientific community truly explored the idea that our neighbor planet, Mars, may be more like Earth than we ever considered.

With prototype space suits and diets consisting only of freeze-dried food, people from around the globe are dedicating weeks to months of their lives simulating the Mars environment to further the study of leaving Earth behind. To most of these pioneers, their only wish is to be a small part of the geological, biological, and psychological research that will propel us to the cosmos. Simulation sites such as NASA-funded Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HISEAS), the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), and the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) create a simulated experience that blurs the line between reality and fantasy; a realm where the air is unbreathable, contact with loved ones is limited, and the dependence and cooperation of your crewmembers becomes center focus.

Justin Levesque

Bio: Justin Levesque is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Portland, Maine. He received his BFA in Photography from the University of Southern Maine in 2010. Levesque is a Maine Arts Commission Artist Project Grant recipient (2015, 2017), and in 2015, was selected as one of thirteen emerging photographers under 30 in Maine by Maine Media Workshops + College's PhoPa Gallery. Levesque has exhibited throughout New England and nationally at Midwest Center for Photography in Wichita, KS; Terrault Contemporary in Baltimore, MD; and JanKossen Contemporary in New York City.

In 2015, he created an independent artist residency aboard an Eimskip container ship sailing from Maine to Iceland. In 2016 Levesque then installed a public art intervention in a shipping container about his residency with support from The Kindling Fund, an Andy Warhol Regional Regranting Program administered by Space Gallery.

In response to his work about Maine's emerging relationship to the North Atlantic and Arctic, he was invited to be a fellow of The Arctic Circle artist residency in Svalbard, just 10 degrees from the North Pole, in June 2017.

Statement: Justin Levesque approaches his interdisciplinary practice with a consideration for the materiality and tradition of formal photography and its relationship to consumer technologies, digital aesthetics, objects, and systems. His work forms a connected visual network that’s preoccupied with the contemporary proliferation and consumption of images, feedback, and combinatory methods of picture-making in the evolution of populist visual language online. Levesque participates, undermines, and manipulates within these forces to imagine the implications of an increasing digital experience. He confronts how their form takes shape within future, unknown possibilities and visualizes current shifts in cultural paradigm as they pertain to corporeal complexity, data as the new divine, spatial simulacrum, and the way a place thinks about another place.

Michael James Murray

Bio: Michael James Murray is known for his 360 degree spherical panoramic photographs depicting a visual journey of the perpetually changing world. He has exhibited throughout NY State. Michael’s book “Worlds Apart,” was nominated for a Lucie Award and has been collected by many institutes such as RIT, The Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, and Baylor University. His work has been collected by NYU Langone Medical Center: Center of Men’s Health and Trinity Practice. Murray’s work is included in many private collections all over the world. Born in Rochester, NY, primarily self-taught through assisting commercial photographers, to then becoming a photographer focusing on his own art form. He lives and works in Lisbon, Maine with his family.

Statement: My photography deals with the 360 degree space compressed into a spherical panorama. The lack of constraint imposed by working within a specific field of view allows me to explore in depth the relationship of objects, structures, and textures in both the natural and manmade world. I use the camera to investigate places where man and nature intersect, analyzing primeval worlds of earth and stone as well as the will imposed on them for better or worse by man.

My process emphasizes the overall atmosphere of the images, drawing greater attention to the interrelation of light, form and texture. By photographing the world this way the camera is omnipresent. Allowing for an epic narrative of the complexities and intricacies of a space whether it be the disorder of ancient ruins in Rome, the pristine skyscrapers of New York City, or densely variegated geographic formations in the American Southwest to emerge.

What I enjoy most about my process is how I make my photographs. I never use the viewfinder of the camera to compose the image. I take note of proximity of objects and structures to the camera. I’ve developed a sense of “echolocation,” I can “feel” if an object or structure in a space is too close or far away and move the camera accordingly. I endeavor to feel consumed by the space I’m in. To make one 360° spherical panoramic photograph, I require at least 30 individual images. Atop my tripod is a high resolution digital camera attached to a special mount. It ensures that each image is precisely aligned with the others surrounding it, and that each image overlaps by the same amount. This is essential for the next step in the process. Because all the images are precisely aligned and they all overlap by the same amount, I am assured that the final composite image will be free of errors and will blend seamlessly. I use specialized software to organize and process my raw images, and specialized software to assemble them into a finished image. Adobe Photoshop rounds out the process by allowing me to precisely adjust contrast, color, and tone. Recently I have incorporated a drone with a high resolution camera in order to make aerial 360° Panoramas.

About the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire

The not-for-profit Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is located at 6 Washington Street in Dover and offers two levels of hands-on, interactive exhibits for children from newborn to middle school. Children can explore a wide range of subjects, from dinosaurs, music and aeronautics to world cultures, art and natural history. Open year-round, the Silver LEED-certified museum specializes in creating memorable family learning experiences and works closely with schools, social service agencies and educators. The museum also hosts a variety of live performances, workshops, classes and special events for families. For more information, please call the museum at (603) 742-2002 or visit