Acacia Johnson

Under The Same Stars
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Nationality: USA
Biography: Acacia Johnson is a photographer, artist and writer from Alaska, focused on human relationships to the earth's Polar Regions. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Acacia was the recipient a Fulbright grant in Canada to pursue a... read on
Public Story
Under The Same Stars
Credits: acacia johnson
Date of Work: 11/01/14 - 03/01/15
Updated: 04/21/17

Ulluriat ataanittuinnait / Under the Same Stars

Winter in the Arctic - vibrant, pulsing. The throb of club music pours from the community hall, streets alive with the roar of skidoos and the cries of dog teams. Faces illuminated by the eerie glow of iPad screens in this polar night, the ding of text messages, the glow of the moon, the buzz of televisions and sewing machines and the silent stillness of hunters waiting, waiting. Feasts of walrus, seal and Coca-Cola; everyone talking about the land, returning to the land. Dancing, praying, hunting, sewing, playing games, telling stories, passing time. Waiting for spring, for the return of life - yet everything continues, even in darkness.

The north of Baffin Island, in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, is one of the coldest inhabited regions on earth. For nearly 5,000 years, the Inuit people have lived a nomadic lifestyle in this landscape, subsisting off of the land and the sea until the 1950s. Communities today navigate drastic shifts between the lifestyles and values of elders raised in a traditional hunting society, and the young generations growing up with modern influences, cable TV and satellite Internet. Eager participants in modern Canadian culture, yet deeply tied to their own heritage, they are connected to the rest of the world, yet simultaneously separated from it. Nevertheless, in a time of immense change, optimism hangs thick in the frozen air. 

Photographed over four months in the community of Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay), Under the Same Stars celebrates the vibrancy of life during the dark months of winter. I was interested in idea of a circumpolar citizenry based on shared experiences with the Arctic landscape; I was interested in the things that tie us all together. These are some pictures from that time. 

This is a selection of images from a larger project created in and around Arctic Bay, Nunavut, Canada in the winter of 2014-2015, primarily with a large-format field camera. It was funded by a grant from Fulbright Canada in affiliation with the Ontario College of Art and Design University. This selection of images is the result of a Visura editing workshop with former National Geographic Photo Editor Kim Hubbard.

My endless, unwavering gratitude goes out to the people of Arctic Bay for welcoming me with such warmth and openness into their lives, and for making this project possible. Special thanks to Sheba Ejangiaq, Joseph Kigutaq, Clare Kines, the Tatatoapik family, Darcy & Susan Enoogoo, and countless others. In fond memory of Peugatuk Ettuk.

This project was funded in part by a grant from Fulbright Canada, the Fulbright Canada-RBC Eco-Leadership Program, and the 83 backers of a Kickstarter campaign in summer 2014.

Special thanks to the following project backers:

Gold Level Sponsors: Hiro Nagaoka, Davis Peterson MD, Kirk & Leslie Johnson

Silver Level Sponsors: Nic Sedenquist, James Gosling, Alex McNeil, Becky Nourse, Margaret Gingerich, Diane McBride, Bob Barrett, David Or, Eirik Schwenke, Devon Wemyss, Robert Sharpe, Rande Lucas, Linda Vollertsen, Kelvie Johnson, Catherine Ann Sage

Bronze Level Sponsors: Pat Murphy, Pat Connor & Irmtraud Wiegel, Nina Bonito Romine, Eva Sutton, Josh Loeser, William P. Flatt, Amy Meissner, Rob Eastick, Kyle McClenahan, Billy & Julie Martin, Andy Moerlein & Donna Dodson, Eva Forsgren, Susan Schapira, Gina Hollomon

Finally, my thanks to the RISD photo department, April Hickox, Simon Glass, and Dorothy Bocian, for believing in me. 

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