Marsh Fork of the Canning River
Upper Marsh Fork
Upper Sadlerochit River
In 1988 I first visited the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — a trip that would forever alter the direction of my life and art work. Looking down during that first bush flight to the Wind River at the seemingly endless mountains, I knew that I would be returning many, many times. The following year I rafted the Hulahula. Since then I have visited the Brooks Range every year, including eleven more trips to the Arctic Refuge, usually to backpack, hike, raft, canoe or stay at our cabin at Wild Lake.
The Arctic Refuge’s seemingly untouched space, wildness, and rock mountains attract me. I prefer seeing a mountain’s bare structure and not having to guess what is beneath trees and vegetation. The north side of the Brooks is north of tree line, so it is “rock heaven” for people interested in geology. The mountains have a feeling of old rock, possibly because the Brooks has some conglomerates that are two billion years old, albeit much of the mountain range formed 140 million years ago.
Some people are into the “power” of Alaska’s land; by contrast, I am more interested in its peacefulness. I like nothing better than to sit and get lost in the land’s colors, patterns, and space and feel the presence of God and my ancestors. Due to gentle eroding forms, subtle colors, and sensual lines, much of the Brooks has a softer feeling, thus a more feminine feeling, than other well-known areas of Alaska such as the Alaska Range or Wrangell St. Elias. The Wrangell St. Elias area reminds me of a testosterone driven teenager, whereas the mountains of the Arctic Refuge remind me of ancient, wise old women.
Being in the Refuge and seeing a world that was just allowed to be, somehow transports me to a “special place”. And the feeling of “that special other place” is what I hope to capture in paint on canvas.
Learn more about Lynn Larsen and her work at lynnlarsen.com.
Artwork ©2013-2021 by Lynn Larsen. Used with permission of the artist.