Arctic Arts Project

The Arctic Arts Project Blog

March 12, 2014

February 21, 2014

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS, publishes article on Arctic Arts director Kerry Koepping, collaborator Carsten Egevang, and INSTAAR director Jim White

August, 2017

The Arctic Arts strives to visually document the warming climate in the most vulnerable places around the globe. Their reach extends through many different collaborators, storytellers and photographers, scientists and explorers, and seeks to draw the public audience into the world of the Arctic through film, photographs, and research. The goal is to present climate change as it truly is, the transformation of a living landscape, a culturally relevant phenomenon, and something that affects us all.

A recent article published by the Proceedings of the Nationals Academy of Sciences (PNAS) highlights the Arctic Art’s drive to bring visual representation of the changing climate to the public. Carsten Egevang, a photographer, scientist, and collaborator of the Arctic Arts, has spent much of time in the northern reaches of this planet. He presents the cultural side of the warming globe, seeing the deep connections people have to the landscape, and the species that are increasingly threatened by climate change. In this article, Egevang captures a picture of a giant polar bear paw, and a human hand pressed against it. Egevang sees the social aspect of climate change to be a powerful communicator, focusing on the communities in extreme regions who are witnessing the warming landscape right in front of their eyes. Photography is his tool to bring the attention to global audiences to imagine what climate change would feel like if it was in their backyard, if the landscape they depended on was disappearing; or as the sea levels rise, if climate change landed on their doorstep.

PNAS also highlights an amazing collaboration between Kerry Koepping, director of the Arctic Arts , and Jim White, director of the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR). Kerry Koepping focuses on the story held within the melting ice. He believes the best photographers are storytellers, seeking to understand and to communicate a message back to a larger crowd. Jim White is a paleoclimatologist at INSTAAR, studying the global carbon cycle, paleo-environmental conditions using ice cores, and many other topics. White is well aware of the need to pull a broader picture of the warming Arctic to audiences. He helps provide the scientific explanations behind the stunning photos of methane bubbles, polygon hummocks, and more, identifying the photographic records of climate change collected by Koepping and the collaborators of the Arctic Arts. The Arctic Arts and INSTAAR joins photography and science; a visual instrument of the research of climate change, both catching the attention of the public and inspiring interest in accredited research.

Read more about Carsten Egevang, Kerry Koepping, and Jim White here. Link:


Arctic Arts Project Director Kerry Koepping Appointed as Affiliate Partner to INSTAAR

As the University of Colorado’s oldest institute, INSTAAR has a long history of responding to pressing environmental issues. The primary focus of INSTAAR has been on polar and alpine regions, where effects of global change are especially pronounced. Research topics vary widely and include Quaternary and modern environments, human and ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, landscape evolution, hydrology, oceanography, and climate. The Arctic Arts Project will act as visual communicator to the research currently being conducted in the Arctic. Project Director, Kerry Koepping, and the Arctic Art's Team of Artists will focus on bringing the visual response to this research and educating the world at large as to its findings.



Greenland Pioneer

By Kerry Koepping- Arctic Arts Project/ Iceland Photo Tours

As I write this blog, I am on an Air Greenland flight from Ilulissat to Nuuk and have just been informed by the captain that we are in a holding pattern, as the weather in Nuuk has deteriorated, and we are unable to land. Such is travel in Greenland. currently has an internet campaign running, #GreenlandPioneer, that seeks those traveling to Greenland to post images and stories of their journeys. I would submit that this is a rather accurate portrayal of travels to this amazing country, and that being a Pioneer is part of the reality, and part of the fun.

In my travels to Greenland, both to the west and east coasts, I have been fortunate enough to experience both the raw existence of the remote landscapes and Inuit settlements, and the country’s growing transition towards sustainability, infrastructure, trade and tourism.  The last two weeks travels have provided me perspective on this amazing developing Arctic nation, and the profound environmental changes that this country is faced with as it grows. 

The month of May, it appears, is “mud season” in Ilulissat, (the town is for all intensive purposes closed) but I was focused on, (maybe obsessed with) photographing a couple of things that really had no connection to a tourism timetable, it just meant that getting there posed a few Pioneering challenges.  The Kangia Icefjord and Jacobshavn Glacier is the world’s fastest moving glacier and experienced a major calving event in January and the remnants were still lodged at the mouth of the fjord at Disko Bay. Additionally, the end of May would see the last couple of days where the sun would totally set below the horizon until late in July, providing a great opportunity for six-hour sunsets/sunrises. 

Once settled, in town, I began the task of chartering boats and planes from those providers still operating in the down season.  I was fortunate enough to meet with Andres at Ilulissat Water Taxi, a one-man operation with a first class boat and a passion for the water. Over the next few days we would spend many an hour on Disko Bay capturing the ever-changing ice flow and Arctic’s midnight sun. More than once we found ourselves in such awe of the moment that we just stood in silence, taking in the profound beauty. Even jesting that we needed to whisper our directions to one another, a seemingly spiritual nod to the reverence required by the surroundings. 

Kangia Ilulissat Icefjord/ Jacobshavn Glacier
At the glacier front the Greenland ice cap beaks off and drops into the sea as icebergs. Once or twice a year major calvings occur, like the one that took place in January. The annual iceberg production from the Kangia Icefjord would be enough to cover the USA’s annual water consumption, 46km3/year.  As a photographer and storyteller I found that communicating the magnitude of this story to be a bit overwhelming, but in choosing to capture the Glacier and Icefjord from both the air and by boat I was able to gain visual perspective on the sheer breadth of the ice front.  The team at AirZafari was spectacular in getting me close-up and personal with the glacier, flying at times only 500 feet off the ice.  It got me close enough to capture the essence of the ice cap’s rapid melt, from the aqua blue lakes and rivers on the icecap surface, to the hundreds of seals basking in the warmth of the days sunlight.

As I struggle to make my way home, I am already struck by the deepest of longings that I need to go back. Fortunately I will. This August I will be on the water again, this time I’ll be back on the Schooner Ship Donna Wood sailing through Scoresby Sound in northeast Greenland. This remote land is a landscape photographers dream and doesn’t disappoint. You just need a bit of Pioneer in you.

If you have #GreenlandPioneer spirit and want to experience magnificent and pristine Greenland for yourself- book your adventure today: