“Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Inspired by wetlands, bogs and the taiga of Interior Alaska, this work was photographed at the Mer Bleue conservation area in Canada’s Capital Greenbelt. You may ask what does a bog in southern Ontario, Canada, have to do with the boreal forest? The Mer Bleue bog features an ecosystem much like that found in the interior of Alaska. You’ll find black spruce, white birch, tamarack, blueberry bushes, and even cotton grass. I felt surprisingly at home in this place, although what really moved me was the beautiful ice that formed as the bog froze midwinter. Fractal and seemingly expansive as if it were captured by a satellite, and living up to its name, Mer Bleue reminds us to pay attention to the small details aroundus. My heart longed for a piece of home on this trip and I was gifted with such a striking landscape.
Caribou and Home
Caribou forage the boreal forest, humans hunt caribou, and the caribou nourish humans. This connection binds together the relationship between humanity and caribou, caribou to the boreal forest, and thus humans to the forest. I am thankful for caribou. I am thankful for the boreal forest. This work is inspired by connection to place, respect for caribou, and a great sense of urgency to protect all that binds us together in this everchanging landscape. I have included elements of home in this work, photographs, and natural elements and have bound these together with a caribou antler.
I would like to express my gratitude for all who have contributed to the ITOC program. I have learned so much about the boreal forest that so many of us call home.
Alyssa Enriquez is a photo-based artist and arts educator residing in Fairbanks, Alaska. Alyssa completed her MFA in Photography at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and earned her BFA in Fine Art Photography from Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California.
On a deeply personal level, her work captures intimate moments of stillness, introspection, new experiences, and ultimately a sense of identity through these collective moments. Her work has been exhibited in Alaska, New York, and California, and is internationally held in private collections.