"can you be on a plane to barrow tomorrow at 6 am?"

I got asked this question last November, and I answered "sure, why not?". 

I got to meet some incredible people, ate fantastic Inupiaq dishes, and hang out with Edna MacLean for 24 hours.

Edna is something of an Alaskan treasure. She's a professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, hanging previously taught in the Alaska Native Languages program. This past September, UAF Press published Edna's North Slope Inupiaq-English dictionary- a lexicon that took Edna and dozens of Inupiaq elders nearly 40 years to complete.

Aurora Magazine, UAF's alumni & friends publication, was strapped for photographer options when they called me up asking if I wanted to spend a day in Barrow, so I don't know how much of it was faith and how much of it was desperation, but I jumped at the chance. Barrow is the northernmost incorporated community in North America, with around 4,500 people occupying a narrow strip of Alaska's Arctic Slope coast at the confluence of the Bering and Chukchi Seas.

Read the rest of the feature on Edna, and see the rest of my photos (including the cover!) in the Spring 2015 issue of Aurora.


what is the group name for the palins?

…a flock of Palins? A disturbance of Palins? A screeching of Palins?

Since moving to Alaska, many friends from home have managed to weave Sarah Palin into our conversations once or twice. Although I haven't seen her, or her infamous backyard, I was fascinated by these photos released by the Anchorage Police Department today. About a month ago, a fight broke out at a birthday party at which some of the Palins were present, and the police were called. They released the evidence photos today on the APD website, and I spent a long time this morning considering them.

Evidence photos are not intended to be works of art, and yet I find myself drawn to these images. Photography has been considered for a long time to be a reflection of reality, and only in the last decade or so has begun to be distrusted as much (if not more so) than paintings or drawings. The argument is one any photojournalist is familiar with, and even Dutch student Zilla van den Born knows all too well. But we still use photography, despite all it's deceptive ability, to document and to record. These evidence photos appear un-doctored to the naked eye- and I have confidence that if they were examined more closely, their data would reflect that as well. The images that feature human subjects intentionally obscure the identities of those depicted. The harsh flash and the apparent disregard for composition or framing marks these images as intentional records rather than a constructed reality or conceptual framework. And yet, these are also the traits that keep me drawn to the imagery- a kind of half-way between Nan Goldin and Paul Seawright comes to mind.

Nan Goldin,  Nan one month after being battered,   1984

Nan Goldin, Nan one month after being battered, 1984

 Paul Seawright  fts  Sectarian Murder

 Paul Seawright fts Sectarian Murder

Regardless of the intent behind the Palin evidence photos, their intrigue is undeniable. Whether the intrigue is born out of the family's fame or simply the strangeness of these specific pictures remains to be seen.