Students show their view of the North in Circumpolar
“Circumpolar”, a statewide photography exhibition featuring the photos of six UAF students and one UAF professor, opened on April seventh. Circumpolar is a juried show featuring images hand picked by Jeff Schultz, the official photographer of the Iditarod. The show is hosted by the UAF photography club Frozen Lenses. Over 70 images were submitted for the show, but only 20 were selected to be exhibited. The show will be on display at Ursa Major Distillery through the end of April.
Miles Leguineche’s image “Olympic Goat” won the people’s choice award, determined by votes submitted at the opening reception. Leguineche, a petroleum engineering student, described a four hour journey into Washington state’s Olympic National Park in search of mountain goats to photograph. It was raining for most of the hike and further up the mountain Leguineche had to make his way through rain, snow and fog. Just before he was about to go back for the day he spotted three billy goats and decided to followed them along the mountain.
“The goats were making the steep, rocky snow-covered terrain look simple and I was doing my best to keep up while not falling off a ridge,” Leguineche said. After following the goats off the trail and below the fog line Leguineche saw an opportunity and took his image.
“Even though it was not taken in Alaska, it still reminds me of the North,” Leguineche wrote.
“I also entered this image because whenever I think of Alaska or the North, I think of wild landscapes and animals, and I think mountain goats, along with dall sheep, are some of the most impressive and wild animals in the north.”
Phillip Wilson won honorable mention with his image “Sometimes it’s ok to Draw on the Walls”. Wilson is a 3rd year undergraduate student majoring in Geoscience. He captured his image in Thompson Pass on a ski trip last year. Wilson said what drew him to the scene were the ski tracks running up and down the side of the valley.
“Even though the people who had made those tracks were no longer there, the tracks were a temporary record of the hard work, and fun time they had.” Wilson wrote. “The temporary presence and effect of humans in harsh mountainous terrain seemed to fit with the circumpolar theme.”
Judy Obat’s photo “Crystalline” was used as the cover for Circumpolar’s exhibit catalogue. She is a sophomore majoring in business administration and accounting. Obat took the image right outside the Wood Center when she saw the snow crystallized on a fence post.
“I never really believed that snow could have such shapes like in the movies,” She wrote. “It was so pretty I decided to stop and take a couple pictures.” Obat’s photos have been selected three times in the past by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
Mark Melham, a Natural Resources graduate student, was accepted with his image “He Said He Wasn’t Cold.” The photo is of Melham’s brother, Tim, after the two had hiked through white-out conditions to conduct a Pika survey in Wyoming.
“It was freezing and blowing like crazy, so I was totally bundled up. But Tim, my brother, was just taking all the wind and snow to the face.” Melham said. “My brother had a massive clump of ice keep his face relatively shut, seemed like a good idea to document.”
Melham moved to Alaska in 2011. He related how he greatly valued the beauty of the Alaskan landscape and wildlife, as well as the strong sense of community and self reliance found here.
“It was basically everything anyone could reasonably want out of life.” Melham wrote. He spent the next five years in the lower 48 trying to find a place like Alaska, but to no avail.
“…all I ever really found there were shadows: a flicker of the life I had here. This photo is one of those shadows,” Melham wrote. “I submitted it to Circumpolar because I think it’s important to recognize that a Northern way of life isn’t necessarily delimited by geographical boundaries; it’s also about your values and what you want out of life. Just because you leave a place, doesn’t mean it’s not a part of you.”
Baxter Bond is a student seeking a double degree, a Bachelor degree in both Yup’ik and Mechanical Engineering. His photo “Cold” was taken on the road to the airport from his hometown of Tununak. Bond said he took the photo specifically for the Circumpolar show. He wanted to relate a sense of loneliness in harsh weather.
“It is by far the most painful photo I have taken,” Bond wrote.
Bond was also featured in Frozen Lenses’ “Illuminate” and “Ascension”
Olena Ellis submitted her photo “Contrast”. She captured the image using a cellphone. Ellis is pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree with a psychology and a photography minor. This is the twelfth exhibition Ellis has been featured in since 2014.
Professor Daryl Farmer’s image “Snow Flowers” was also featured in the exhibition. He said the image was captured on a hike with his wife near Wickersham dome.” A flier promoting the show prompted his entry. Farmer hopes his image will convey a different side of the north.
“Sometimes the North is presented as harsh, forbidding. But I’m most taken by its silence and stillness, especially in the winter,” he wrote.
Schultz has been working with the Iditarod 1981. He is an internationally known photographer, responsible for some of the most widely circulated Alaskan imagery. In an interview last week Schultz said he chose the images for the show by approaching the project like he approached editing for his former company, the Alaska Stock Agency. Schultz selected photos with strong compositions, which he believes is essential to photography. Schultz was unable to attend the opening of Circumpolar.
Frozen Lenses is a photography club based on campus, but open to all members of the community. Circumpolar is their third show of 2016. The club can be reached through their website or Facebook page.