Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


Defibaugh Denis PolarArtBlog PolarWeekMar2020Artist: Denis Defibaugh
Instagram: @defden

What medium do you work in? How did you choose that medium?

I am a photographer. I have always been interested in documenting the world and telling stories with a camera. My photographs have been used to illustrate editorials, publications, on assignment and through personal projects. I have produced two books of documentary
photography. Most recently North by Nuuk, Greenland after Rockwell Kent and earlier the book The Day of the Dead.

How and why did you decide to focus on the polar regions in your work?

My interest in Greenland was magnified by seeing the lanternslides that Rockwell Kent created in the 1930’s in Illorsuit, Greenland. They are like precious gems (transparencies on glass) that are activated by light. These photographs inspired my travels to Greenland to photograph contemporary Greenland’s society, culture, and environment.

What polar themes or imagery do you typically focus on?

I concentrate on the West Central Coastal region of Greenland. My photographs document the primal landscape, the cultural environment, and the people of the region. This includes the broad sublime landscape, the interaction of Inuit with the environment, daily activities of Inuit people, and their intimate portraits. My photo documentary approach is to represent life in Greenland.

Defibaugh Denis PolarArtBlog PolarWeekMar2020 2Have you exhibited your artwork in-person or online somewhere recently or have an upcoming exhibition?

These photographs have been published by RITPress in the book North by Nuuk, Greenland after Rockwell Kent in 2019. Exhibitions are scheduled for April-July at Pensacola State College’s Main Gallery and January-April and SUNY Plattsburgh’s Burke Gallery.

RIT’s University Gallery premiered the exhibition in 2019. The project can be seen on and on
defibaugh-north-by-nuuk-greenland-after-kent/ to name a few sites on the web.

Do you have any advice for polar scientists and researchers who might like to engage more with using art to share their results and research?

I would encourage polar scientists, historians, and artists to do their research, meet with experienced polar visitors that have traveled to the Polar areas, and gain as much knowledge before embarking on a polar project. Collaborative projects can be key to developing a meaningful experience and successful results for your research and artwork.

Defibaugh Denis PolarArtBlog PolarWeekMar2020 3What reactions do you often receive to your art?

For the North by Nuuk... project, many people express an overwhelming sense of the culture and place when looking at the photographs. Many questions are asked about my experience. Curiosity to learn more about Greenland is expressed by many, and for people that know
Greenland, they mention that they see the real Greenland in the photographs.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the polar regions today?

My thoughts about the biggest challenges facing the polar region obviously includes climate change. The polar regions are being affected twice as fast as the rest of the world. Beyond snow melt and affects to sea animals and polar animals, hunting culture, and traditional culture is changing.

Do you have a favourite fellow polar (or nature) artist?

My two favorite polar artists are Emanuel Peterson and Rockwell Kent. They are historic artists
of Greenland of the 20th century

Please provide a website that features your work and social media handles to share with our public.

Name: Denis Defibaugh
Instagram: @defden

Defibaugh Denis PolarArtBlog PolarWeekMar2020 4

© Pictures created by Denis Defibaugh

Contact APECS

APECS International Directorate
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Huginbakken 14
9019 Tromsø
Email: info(at)

Our Sponsors

APECS Directorate Sponsor
Further Sponsors and Partners for APECS projects, activities and events