And the Whale Met the Polar Bear

I have always wanted to see wild bison. I guess I assumed they are rare or shy because I  have never seen them before. Well, in the last few days I have seen more bison than I can count. Welcome to the Northwest Territories!

We weren’t planning on going north of 60… but when you have the opportunity to meet someone that has shared the same specific and unique experience but you have never met before… it is hard to pass up the invite! Last winter I was put in contact with artist Alison McCreesh from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. She participated in the Karelia Artist Residency at the Media Centre Vyhod in Petrozavodsk, Russia. I was so grateful to be able to talk to her over the phone while I was working through the confusing process of applying for a visa to visit Russia.

I never imagined that I would have the pleasure of meeting Alison in person. It was a pleasure to spend time getting to know her and her beautiful family and reminisce about our Russian experiences. Alison, her partner Pat, their two children and Ninja, the family dog, gave us a wonderful whirlwind walking tour of the old town part of Yellowknife. I was captivated by the interestingly shaped shacks and shack-inspired houses, the multicolored houseboats (half the year they can walk to town, the other half they canoe) and the interesting history of this remote city.

Something that really struck me when I met Alison is that her art is highly–I would even venture to say entirely–influenced by her geographical location and natural surroundings: inspired by cold weather situations, artic creatures, snowsuits, skates and skis. Alison has a wonderful way of capturing the essence of life up north in her art. It made me realize the importance of location and how it can impact artistic development. It was a good reminder to remember to immerse yourself in wherever you are at that moment and allow it to influence you. This immersion can take on many shapes and forms: whether it is seaweeds and cetaceans or snow and polar bears.

If you would like to see more of Alison’s work, you can check out her website, facebook page or Instagram feed. Alison has also created two fantastic travelogues (which I now have the pleasure of adding to my library),  Norths: Two Suitcases & a Stroller Around the Circumpolar World  and Ramshackle, published by Conundrum Press.


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