The new decade has brought with it some unexpected challenges, but those same obstacles have given us an opportunity to focus on reaching out to our online community, and to explore new methods of digital story telling.
At this time when science is critical for our survival and art is necessary for our sanity, the conservation photography of Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier is the perfect union of these two complementary paradigms. Hilton Asmus Contemporary couldn’t be representing a more inspirational and dedicated pair of humans.
Paul Nicklen is an acclaimed National Geographic photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist who has spent the last twenty years documenting the natural beauty of our planet in an effort to illustrate the plights of critical species and their fragile ecosystems, while advocating for their protection. As a National Geographic assignment photographer, he is particularly famous for his awe-inspiring images of polar wilderness regions and the unique animals that call these harsh and rugged habitats home. Nicklen’s sensitive and evocative imagery has garnered many of the highest awards given to any photographer in his field, including the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the prestigious World Press Photo for Photojournalism.
Cristina Mittermeier is a marine biologist, photographer, writer, and conservationist. Fifteen years ago, she founded the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) to provide a platform for photographers covering environmental issues. She primarily specializes in creating images related to ocean conservation and indigenous peoples. Mittermeier is recognized as one of the World’s Top 40 Most Influential Outdoor Photographers, was the recipient of Smithsonian Conservation Photographer of the Year Award in 2010, and was named one of National Geographic’s 2018 Adventurers of the Year. Cristina’s work has appeared in hundreds of publications, including National Geographic Magazine, McLean’s and TIME.
Together, Cristina and Paul founded SeaLegacy in 2014. The goal of this Canadian nonprofit is to “bring together the world’s best photographers, conservationists, scientists, storytellers and strategists to lead a bold new movement to engage one billion people in ocean conservation.” SeaLegacy’s three-pronged approach of leading expeditions, fueling campaigns, and implementing solutions is united by a focus on extraordinary visual storytelling. “I’m fortunate to be able to lead some of the world’s best photographers and film makers to the farthest corners of our oceans,” says Paul. “It’s our job to bring the oceans to you.” SeaLegacy uses its massive media footprint of over six million followers to rally global support for projects that invest in community-centered solutions that help build healthy and abundant marine ecosystems. As Cristina explains, “Extraordinary opportunities exist to restore and sustainably develop our oceans in order to protect them and sustain all life on this planet.”
It’s a privilege for us at Hilton Asmus Contemporary to represent the gorgeous work of this truly visionary team. Paul and Cristina were kind enough to join us earlier this week from their home in Vancouver for the virtual launch of their show at our gallery. It was enlightening to hear firsthand about their mission at SeaLegacy, and a pleasure to get a peak into their exciting and unique lives. Two nights in a row – April 2nd and 3rd – they transported us all over the planet with their stories. Paul closed out the live Instagram feed last night by regaling us with a tale of a Grizzly bear he called Morris who chose to eat his salmon dinner right next to Paul while he sipped on a nightcap. These lively and personal background narratives bring the photos to life.
Once it’s safe to start going back to our regular activities, we can’t wait to invite everyone to come to the gallery and enjoy each one of these stunning images. When you view their photographs, they pull you in and hold your attention, making you yearn to know everything about the subject. The color photos will be a feast for your eyes, while the black and whites will mesmerize you with their details. Each composition is so saturated with life that you’ll swear you can hear the ice crunching under your feet, and feel the humid air of the tropics on your skin.
We have dubbed 2020 our Year of Conservation, and the tireless efforts put forth by Paul and Cristina to protect our priceless natural wonders, embody this theme to perfection. Even though we may currently be apart, their art excels at bringing us together, and reminding us how important it is to value and protect every ecosystem on this beautiful planet we are endlessly lucky to call home.
Written by Alex Rose