58″ × 108″, oil on linen (2008) Thor Peak, Akshayuk Pass, Auyuittuq National Park, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
From the INTO THE ARCTIC Project
The Inuit, who have been travelling the Akshayuk Pass for generations, call this place Qaiqsualuk, meaning “enormous bedrock.” The majestic Thor Peak features the greatest vertical drop on Earth: over 4,000 feet.
Anticipation built feverishly as I flew to Baffin Island and from the air saw enormous granite mountains and glaciers as far as the eye could see.
Stepping into Auyuittuq National Park with my friend Marten Berkman, we hiked slowly along the Weasel River, dwarfed by the scale of the pass. Crossing the Arctic Circle and numerous rivers for three days brought us face to face with Thor’s sheer wall, rising overhead into the sky. Establishing a base camp here for three more days allowed me to explore numerous different views until, utterly exhausted, I settled down by the river and tried to capture Thor on canvas. But could I do justice to this overwhelming landscape on such a small, 16-inch-wide canvas?
I knew then that much more work lay ahead in my studio, and this painting was born.