Josh Bourget, Artist – Grande Prairie, AB
I was born and raised in the Canadian Arctic with one foot in the Inuit culture and the other in the Euro-Canadian one – like straddling two rooms through a doorway. I live in Alberta now and I find that photography helps to focus my mind. I’ve always been very passionate about creating art and for a while I didn’t consider photography to be worthy of the mantle. But the more photographs I create, the more I see the art in it. Whenever possible, I prefer not to show my work in digital form as it doesn’t have the same impact as seeing it in print. Unfortunately, my first exhibit was cut short and my second was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Right now, the works are only viewable online.
- The Arctic tundra
I’m obsessed with the nuna – the land. In my youth, it was my sanctuary – desolate yet abundant, sustaining yet unforgiving, unending and unknowable. It treats me objectively – the colour of my skin doesn’t matter out on the land; it’s a racial and societal equalizer. I miss it. It still calls to me, even though I live 1700 km from it. Sometimes I can smell it on the wind and I always know in which direction it lies. Unfortunately, I am rarely able to return to it. When I do, I spend every possible minute out on it.
Languages and cultures are the pinnacle of puzzles. No crossword will ever reward you nearly as much as achieving the ability to see through someone else’s eyes and to speak with their tongue. I love the feeling of the fog clearing – something that was once confusing now makes a lot of sense. Right now, I’m learning Mandarin and it’s very exciting.
I have restless feet. If I stay too long in one place, I go crazy. I think I inherited it from my mother. We both have the insatiable need to see what’s over the next hill, and the next one, etc. When I can’t travel, I like to look at maps. Like a kid with a Christmas catalogue, I pick out all the places I want to be. I sometimes even draw my own maps of imaginary places, just to see what could happen.
- The sky
Oh, the glorious sky! It’s the last of the uncharted and free lands. No one can own a cloud and we can’t farm it or subdivide it for profit. I like to imagine that I can explore them like a traveler in a foreign land. Each one has a story hidden in it and much of the time you can find the hint of a personality in the floating giants. You can guess quite accurately how the weather will change, if you get to know the sky.
- My family
I love my wife and three beautiful children. My life would be pretty empty without them. They bring me great joy and renew my wonder for snow piles and muddy puddles. Balancing kids and art is a lot more manageable when I include them and help them develop their own works.