Grantee:  Brian Adams
Native Citizenship:  Iñupiaq 
Location:  Anchorage, Alaska
Award:  2018 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Visual Arts
Web Site:  baphotos.com
Instagram:  @brianadamsphotography

Brian Adams (Iñupiaq) captures vivid portraits of contemporary life in the North, using photography to document the beauty and complexity of Indigenous life. Inspired by his family roots in Kivalina – a village of 350 people on the Northwest coast of Alaska – Adams trains his lens on subjects in an effort to counter the misinformation and stereotypes that surround Alaska Native peoples – to show that “not only are their traditions very alive, they have adapted and persisted despite many attempts to eradicate them.”

Among his many projects, I AM INUIT introduced over 40,000 social media followers to Alaskan Inuit culture, sharing images and personal stories. Based in Anchorage, Alaska, he has to date visited over 50 villages throughout the state, so as to document the everyday-lives touched by larger issues of cultural preservation, health, community resilience, and climate change. When Adams visits Native communities, like the one where he spent his infancy, he uses youthful cultural signifiers to defy “Nanook of the North” stereotypes, showing kids in hoodies, an intimate study of a man and his guitars, and a lonely snowdrift-covered basketball pole awaiting a far-off thaw. While his vivid, flavorful colors may contrast with the stark, monochromatic snow of his homeland, they perfectly suit his subjects’ vibrant individuality.

The ultimate purpose of this work is to bring together a people separated by borders and melting sea ice, as well as to educate others about these resilient peoples and the struggles they still face.
~ Brian Adams
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