Artist Feature: Mark Kelly Photography
Mark Kelly is a passionate photographer dedicated to documenting very important social issues. He is a talented portrait and landscape photography artist, he also teaches photography workshops, and is a counsellor, using photography as a therapeutic element in his practice. In 1997 Mark took a canoe trip in the North and knew right away that he wanted to live in the Yukon. Mark is currently based in Whitehorse, but he travels all over the world for his photography work.
Mark's photography style features strong contrast and rich tones, highlighting well the elements and stories he is so dedicated to telling.
Mark is part of the #ArcticRefugeStories project with the International League of Conservation Photographers this summer to document and bring awareness to conservation issues in the North.
Right now Mark is working on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the biggest wildlife park in the United States, to raise awareness about oil exploration and drilling going on in the area.
Currently, in Old Crow, Mark says drilling in the area "is of particular concern for the Gwitch’in people who have lived in this part of the world for millennia. The traditional territory of the Gwitch’in straddles the Yukon-Alaska border from as Far East as Inuvik, NWT to Fort Yukon, Alaska to the west."
There is more than a few concerns about the drilling plans for the area, but Mark says "the primary concern is the caribou calving grounds. Drilling in the calving grounds will interrupt the birthing and migration of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. The caribou are extremely sensitive to any alteration to the habitat. If there is a change of some kind, the caribou will move and the predictability for the Gwitch'in's hunting is forever altered. As well, the drilling in the calving grounds will reduce the population of the caribou."
Another of Mark's documentary projects, in collaboration with Lily Gontard and Harbour Publishing, is Beyond Mile Zero: The Vanishing Alaska Highway Lodge Community. Published in 2017, this beautiful book details Lily and Mark's visits to currently operating as well as abandoned lodges along the Alaska Highway. The publishers description notes: "During the roadhouse heyday, owners and employees lived on the frontier and earned good wages. Some were looking for a life-long commitment and a place to raise a family, others relished the isolation." The book includes a fantastic collection of Mark's photography as well as stories, documented by Lily, from many people who have operated the lodges.
You can find more of Mark's work, and purchase prints, on his website, facebook, and Instagram, as well as the ILCP instagram. You can buy Beyond Mile Zero straight from the publisher, or from Amazon or Indigo.
Mark is working hard to bring awareness to important social issues in the North and around the world, I'd highly recommend following his work.