“To approach animals in their most natural, native settings, I have to understand the mysteries of their behavior. With careful preparation, I can show the animal in its best light, demonstrating its beauty, strength, and intelligence.” – Paul Nicklen
At the age of four, Paul Nicklen moved with his family to Baffin Island in the far Canadian North and so began a lifelong relationship with the vast Arctic landscape and its creatures. During a stint as a wildlife biologist studying polar bears, grizzlies, and lynx, Nicklen grew impatient with data gathering. He resigned his job, gathered a camera, a backpack, and an inflatable canoe, and set out on a three-month solo expedition in the high Arctic to pursue his dream of being a wildlife photographer. Since then he has published dozens of articles about the Polar region, including several for National Geographic. Nicklen’s photography of icy landscapes, polar bears, walrus, leopard seals, penguins, and more, illustrates both his passion for the environment and a deep commitment to conservation. As the Earth’s warming trend threatens the ice upon which the Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems depend, Nicklen urgently hopes his skills as a wildlife photojournalist will inspire stewardship of the rare, remote, and threatened at the Earth’s extremes.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, Polar Obsession is a wise and wonderful intertwining of art and science, following Nicklen's bold expeditions that plunge him into freezing seas to capture unprecedented, up-close documentation of the lives of leopard seals, whales, walruses, polar bears, bearded seals, and narwhals. Bathed in polar light, his inspiring and amazing images break new ground in photography and provide a vivid, timely portrait of two extraordinary, endangered ecosystems.
The Arctic is in Paul Nicklen's blood. Born and raised on Baffin Island, Nunavut, he grew up in one of the only non-Inuit families in a tiny native settlement amid the ice fields, floes, and frigid seas of Northern Canada. At an age when most children are playing hide-and-seek, he was learning life-and-death lessons of survival: how to read the weather, find shelter in a frozen snowscape, or live off the land as his tribal neighbors had done for centuries. Today Nicklen is a naturalist and wildlife photographer uniquely qualified to portray the impact of climate change on the polar regions and their inhabitants, human and animal alike.