Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

The Far North: Portrait of the Arctic

The Far North: Portrait of the Arctic, 2015

by Larry Cwik

October 5 – November 7, 2015
Summer Gallery Hours:
Monday – Friday, 8am – 4pm
Closing Reception:
Thursday, November 5, 2 – 4pm
(reception preceded by an artist talk at 1pm)

The work of Larry Cwik traverses the five coastal nations of the Arctic, capturing the ingenuity and challenges of life in this swiftly-changing region. Though the ecology of the Arctic is critically intertwined with the ecology of the planet as a whole, the region remains little-known to outsiders and the stories of the communities who live there go largely untold. This exhibit provides a necessary and timely window into this foreboding but beautiful place, as photographed during Cwik’s travels throughout the U.S., Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. Cwik’s large-scale limited-edition photographs stir reflection about our global relationship to the people and ecology of the Far North, and remind us of the delicate interconnectedness of our planet’s people and places. Cwik will also be introducing a new video in the North View Gallery exhibition.

Artist statement

The Arctic is critical to our planet, especially to the Northern Hemisphere. Yet it is little-known and little-visited. It is remote and difficult to travel to. Few people live there. Yet its influence on our planet is large.

The project The Far North: Portrait of the Arctic, results from seven trips to the Arctic to photograph since 2002. My first visit to Alaska’s Arctic was to Coldfoot Alaska, adjacent to Gates of the Arctic National Park. I followed this up with visits to five communities (Upernavik, Kangerlussuaq, Nuuk, Ilulissat, and Narsarsuaq) in Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat) in 2006. Greenland achieved its independence three years later in 2009. It remains part of the Kingdom of Denmark. In 2012 and 2013 I photographed the two largest towns in Alaska’s Arctic, Barrow and Kotzebue. In 2014 I visited and photographed six Arctic communities (Kugluktuk, Iqaluit, Clyde River or Kanngiqtugaapik, and Pond Inlet or Mittimatalik) in Nunavut (“Our Land,” in Inuktitut), Canada’s northern-most area and newest territory. I also photographed three Arctic communities in northern Norway (Kirkenes, Longyearbyen, and Barentsburg) and the largest city in the Arctic, Murmansk, Russia. Russia, the U.S., Norway, Greenland, and Russia are the countries with Arctic coastline

The background context for this project is increased geopolitical tussling over Arctic resources and potential trade routes. Oil and gas are found in the Arctic though little developed to date. Arctic shipping routes may develop to be important. Ice conditions are changing due to accelerated global climate change. Increased geopolitical tussling has come to the Arctic. There is an increased militarization of the Arctic. Canada, Russia, Denmark (through its relationship with Greenland), the U.S., and Norway will likely control the fate of the Arctic.

The ecology of the Arctic is rich, diverse, and fragile. It survives amongst harsh conditions. Climate change is already impacting the Arctic, its peoples, and its ecology. This may prove a harbinger of other changes that will impact more southerly locations in the Northern Hemisphere. The people of the Arctic have lived there under harsh conditions for centuries. They have survived in harmony with their environment and have ingeniously used resources available to them.

These images are a portrait of this foreboding but exceedingly beautiful and important place. I hope these can cause us to reflect on our relation to the people and environment of the Arctic, and to our interconnected world.

All works are for sale. Photographic works, all in an edition of 9, are $700.00 (or $550 unframed). Please contact Larry Cwik at photogart@gmail.com or 503-827-7163 to purchase work.

RACC logoThis project has been supported in part by the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Thanks also to Cindy Cwik and Fred Martin, Bill Dickey, John Freeman, Joe Walsh of Cinemagic Studios, Ben Cline of ZenWig Photographic, Mel of Mel’s Frame Shop, and Mark Smith of PCC North View Gallery for helpful and appreciated assistance on this project.