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Origins

Archiving the Fresh Coast

Ed Wargin is holding on to the coast, one photograph at a time.

A long-time professional photographer, Wargin has transformed his connection to the Great Lakes as a Minnesota native into a project documenting the region.

The Fresh Coast Project sits at the intersection of art, history, wilderness, and memory, as Ed Wargin captures the details along the 10,000 plus miles of shoreline that make up the Great Lakes. And he's using (gasp) both digital and film mediums.

Digital photographs are the primary vehicle for most of the images we see these days. Especially when hanging in the internet world. So...all of us here. Part of the core mission of The Fresh Coast Project is utilizing film as a marker by which to tangibly track the Great Lakes. These are real pieces of wilderness memory that Wargin is creating—moments of wildlife, land, and water—that will serve as artifacts of something as changeable as a shoreline.

First of all, looking at just the digital versions of these photographs makes you want to hop on the next floatplane to the upper reaches of the lakes. (Now is your opportunity to find a floatplane, right?) These images are simply beautiful.

But they also succeed in drawing you in to a kind of intagible place of memory that Wargin creates with his carefully curated choices of scene and mood. The rocks and trees and bullfrogs are not a tourism plug. Their detail suggests more about the Great Lakes-as-resource, that the region is connected to real communities of people, industry, wildlife. By archiving the coast, Wargin hopes to create stewards of the future.

"The project is not so much about telling you the story of the Great Lakes, but it is about telling your grandchildren the story of the Great Lakes."

The Fresh Coast Project is an ode to the ol' Spirit of the Lakes: one that dips its canoe into the water and navigates the landscape and knows its inhabitants. Wargin is creating physical evidence of that spirit. Now carry it with you.

From the dock,

-KK

All photos courtesy of The Fresh Coast Project

12/26/2011
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