What is Sea Ice Stories?

Sea Ice Stories is a photographic project by photographer Acacia Johnson, in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, from April through June 2018. Through large-format photographs and written stories, the project will explore the role of sea ice in the daily lives, identities, and worldviews of young people in this remote Canadian Arctic settlement. How does sea ice function as a platform for community and transfer of indigenous knowledge? 

In addition to Acacia's images and writing, Sea Ice Stories aims to incorporate photographs and stories by local youth, creating a multifaceted collection of narratives from local perspectives. Discussions are underway about structuring a visual storytelling workshop for teenagers that would tie into this project. 

The results of Sea Ice Stories - through online publishing, an exhibition, or a book - will help weave these stories and indigenous perspectives into international dialogues about the North. The goal is to make a beautiful, positive and meaningful contribution to global awareness of Arctic issues - highlighting the importance of sea ice not only to the earth's changing climate, but to people, cultural identity, and community. 


VISION

  • Create photographs that convey to outside audiences why sea ice is important to the people of the Circumpolar North, through a positive and poetic approach.
  • Empower local youth to tell their own stories and grow their marketable skillsets through photographic workshops. 
  • Create a collection of meaningful stories that are of value both to the community of Arctic Bay, but also within an international context.

SPECIFICS

From late April through June 2018, I will live in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, on the north of Baffin Island, an Inuit community with which I am already well acquainted. More than any other time of year, this is an active season for the community, when many people travel and camp extensively on the sea ice, hunting, fishing, and passing on traditional skills to youth. It is also the season of 24-hour daylight, the end of the school year, and community events such as the annual Fishing Derby. 

From a base in Arctic Bay, I will join families as they travel and camp on the sea ice, photographing with a large-format view camera and learning as much as possible about life on the ice, collecting stories along the way. When Internet is available, updates, photographs and stories will be posted on on the project's blog.

I also hope to lead a photography workshop for high school students during my stay, focusing on photography as a tool for storytelling - but also as a way to engage with the Arctic environment, providing a basic framework of marketable skills within photography and Arctic tourism. The goal will be to expand awareness for what photography can be used for, both within and beyond the limits of the local horizon.

At the end of June, I will return to Alaska and begin the long process of film developing, editing, writing, and reflection necessary to produce a polished, finished product. A first final version of the series is estimated to be completed by the end of 2019. 


For a full-length, detailed project description, please email acacia.johnson@gmail.com.