GRID Polar Division News

Portraits of Resilience opens at the Field Museum of Natural History

The images and stories are compelling. High school students in four Arctic communities have photographed and written about the changes they are seeing in their regions due to rapid climate change. And now they’ll be seen by people in the hometown of U.S. President Barak Obama.

Visit the online gallery at

An exhibition of these photos and stories opened today at the Field Museum in Chicago. The Field Museum is one of the world’s premier natural history museums and has been an institution on the shore of Lake Michigan for more than a century.

Portraits of Resilience involves students from indigenous communities in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Norway and is part of the Many Strong Voices programme which links people in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States who are confronting climate change. Meghann Piscoya, one of the photographers from the Alaskan Inuit community of Shishmaref, attended the opening along with her father, Kooper.

The exhibition will run in Chicago until 3 April 2011. Portraits opened last year at the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen as part of a major art exhibition during the UN climate change talks. Since then it has been at museums in Norway and at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Portraits is also linked to Google Earth.

Portraits works with professional photographers who spend several weeks in a community working with schools. The programme is integrated into the high school curriculum. The students write short stories about the effects of climate change on their community. After that, they are taught how to take photos and they go out and illustrate their writings.

Besides the four Arctic communities, Portraits has worked in the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles and is currently operating in Fiji, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands. An exhibition of both Arctic and Small Island Developing States is planned for the next UN climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of November.

North Entrance, from the Museum   Visitors to the Field Museum are greeted by Sue,
the most intact Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever
Entrance to Exhibit Area  

Visitors to the Portraits Exhibition

Meghann Piscoya, 18, points to one of her
photos of Shishmaref, Alaska
  Kooper and Meghann Piscoya with Mille Porsild,
founder of GoNorth! and partner in Portraits of
Resilience, at the Field Museum

Photo Credits: John Crump, GRID-Arendal

Tuesday 05 Oct 2010