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Sámi culture on exhibit NOV 9, 2013 - FEB 9, 2014

Debuting in the Museum Gallery on Saturday November 9 is “Eight Seasons Above the Arctic Circle,” a new exhibition featuring photographer Birgitte Aarestrup’s journey among the Sámi people. Aarestrup is the author of 8 Seasons Above the Arctic Circle: The Sámi of Lapland.

The Sámi are from Sápmi, also known as Lapland, a region that extends across Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, encompassing a vast area of mountainous and forested country, tundra, and wetlands. The only European indigenous group to be formally recognized as aboriginal, the Sámi are renowned for their exquisite crafts and reindeer herding.

The reindeer is both the center of and source for much of the Sámi world. They are so important to the culture that the Sámi year is divided into eight seasons, each relating to the changing nature so important for the traditional life-style and for the reindeer.

The exhibit includes nearly 40 photographs that provide a rare and evocative window into the Sámi landscape and life ways. Aarestrup captured her experiences when she lived with the reindeer herders, listened to their stories around the fire in their traditional kåta birch huts, traveled to the 400-year-old Winter Market, and visited the homes of well-known artisans still creating arts and crafts in the way of their ancestors. She depicts a land of contrasts: of light and dark, of ancient culture and modern technology, with a cold climate warmed by the humans inhabiting it.

In addition to the exhibit, the Museum will present a series of educational events that will feature Sámi culture. Scheduled during the month of January are a gallery talk with Aarestrup, screening of the award-winning documentary film Suddenly Sámi, and a Sámi family program. See Event Calendar.

Born in Denmark and currently residing in both Santa Barbara and Sweden, Aarestrup trained with famed Danish photographer Jorn Freddie where she learned fashion, portrait, and documentary photography. Her tools are purely traditional: Hasselblad and Nikon cameras, film and natural light. “I want to preserve what is left of the Sámi lifestyle for the next generation,” she shared. “I am able to do that through photography.”

The exhibition runs through February 9, 2014.

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