Artist and photographer Acacia Johnson is all set to join Quark Expeditions as a guide and photography lecturer in the Arctic this season. Even before she joins us, Johnson is looking towards the winter, when she'll stay on in the Arctic to work on Into Indigo, her exploration in images of the profound human connection to the mythic winter landscape of the Canadian Arctic.
Johnson will stay a full season of darkness in the town of Arctic Bay, on Baffin Island. She plans to photograph sites of mythical or cultural significance to the Inuit people as part of her Fulbright photography project and traveling exhibition.
Arctic Bay is certainly the place for such an undertaking – the area has been inhabited by Inuit people for over 4,000 years.
The Alaskan photographer is dedicated to conveying the profound awe and wonder of the Arctic landscape. A recent graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, she has created projects across Alaska, Iceland, and Arctic Scandinavia in the past, and currently exhibits her work internationally.
Johnson is fully committed to the project and has received a grant by way of a Fulbright U.S. Student Award from Fulbright Canada, which will help offset the costs of her Ontario College of Art & Design tuition and living expenses in Toronto this fall. In her time there, Johnson will spend a month and a half working with faculty who specialize in landscape photography and indigenous visual culture. She will also research visual images of the Far North and narrative references that relay their cultural significance.
In November, she will make her way to Arctic Bay to kick off four months of shooting 4x5 color film with a large-format field camera. Given the expense of traveling to and residing in the Arctic, Johnson has created a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to cover her project expenses.
She explains the project in more detail on Kickstarter:
"Using a 4x5 view camera and digital video, I will create a traveling exhibition of photographs and installations with the intention of linking all people living in the Circumpolar North to their common ancestries. These exhibitions – so far planned in Canada, the USA, and Norway – will contribute to a broader international awareness of the deep human connection to the Arctic landscape and mythologies and visually represent life in the Arctic today."
Johnson also explained where she plans to concentrate her efforts in her time in Arctic Bay:
"The polar night will provide the otherworldly quality of light that has always compelled me to make photographs, enhancing their mythological quality. In addition to landscape images, I will create portraits of the people in the landscape whose lives remain intertwined with the land, their culture, and their mythologies. My affiliate in Arctic Bay, who will assist greatly with the logistics of the project, also suggests that I showcase my travel experiences and photography to local youth to expand their vision beyond the immediate horizon. I will also be seeking ways to otherwise engage with the local community during my residence."
If you're unfamiliar with how Kickstarter works, it gives people an opportunity to make a pledge towards a project, with different items awarded funders for various levels of sponsorship. If the project meets its funding goal, each of the funders receives the pledged items. For example, a book author might offer a signed copy of their book to funders, with the top funder qualifying for a private book reading.
In Johnson's case, top funders will receive a 28" x 35" archival print of a commissioned photograph from Baffin Island, a Skype call from Toronto when she returns, exclusive behind-the-scenes updates from Arctic Bay and their name included as a Level III sponsor in the final online presentation of her work.
Sponsorship for Into Indigo: The Mythic Landscape of the Contemporary Arctic continues until July 27, 2014.