By P.M. Fadden
Annually held Girdwood Fine Arts Camp welcomed Ash Adams alongside husband and former valley resident Brian Adams as 2017 guest photography instructors.
Adams, parents of two and both professional shutter artists, joined thirty-one years of volunteer driven Arts Camp tradition.
Ash’s specialized style of environmental portraiture and documentary photojournalism has appeared within both national and international publications, while husband Brian’s portraits-meets-arts photography entitled I AM INUIT is currently on display at the Anchorage Museum.
Launched in July 2015, I AM INUIT represents the conjoined efforts of Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska and Brian’s Iñupiaq editorial and artistic imagery. Through photo content and short story selection, Brian displays Inuit life, culture and society.
Prior to current INUIT work, the husband and wife team collaborated in 2013 to produce the pictorial publication I AM ALASKAN, a work through which encourages readers to reconsider previous conceptions of Alaska as a land and Alaskans as a people. Within the book’s pages Brian delves his half-Iñupiat, half–American heritage besides otherwise compelling portraiture of Alaska moments both everyday and outstanding.
I AM ALASKA is at once both state and culture-wide identity exploration, a pictorial undertaking which Brian happily shares with the valley he once called home.
“I lived in Girdwood from, I think, ’85 to ’97,” Brian said. “And, before our family moved to Anchorage I attended Girdwood School. To be invited here as part of Arts Camp is wonderful.”
Local nonprofit Girdwood Arts Institute works in tandem with Arts Camp directors and president to organize each year’s event as a multi-media, labor of love encouraging pupils’ aspirations with creative expression and leadership. Guidance from volunteers and instructors like Brian and Ash Adams is instrumental in achieving that effect.
“We choose inspiring art instructors who have the ability to connect with children,” said Arts Camp statesman Tommy O’Malley. “The Adam’s iPhone photography workshop is example of reaching kids via their regular day-to-day exposures.”
Working in rotation with small student groups, Brian and Ash utilized commonly carried personal devices to demonstrate general photographic composition. Lighting, framing and spacial awareness were described during Q&A dialog and photographic examples. All instruction was given with hand held personal devices in mind.
The Arts Camp experience spanned two weeks and boasted approximately sixty pupils at its Challenge Alaska host site.
“For twelve years Challenge Alaska has graciously allowed us use of its building,” O’Malley said.
Previous host locations include early Girdwood Center for the Visual Arts building (known today as ‘the Grind’ coffee house), Girdwood School, now historic Glacier City Hall and even a log cabin at Old Girdwood town site.
When asked to where Arts Camp might one day grow, organizers are as enthusiastic as they are optimistic. Arts Camp, they feel, positively impacts participating children both today as well as long into their adult years that benefits community at large.
Arts Camp future directly relates to where students carry its teachings. Tommy O’Malley perhaps best verbalized that impact when he said, “we’ve ruined many children for factory work.”