Earlier this year I was named the winner of the Canada Northern Lights Award for my travel photography. More than 300 entries were considered from photojournalists all over the world. The Missouri School of Journalism picked the final winners for best travel writing and best photography. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), I was honored.
I was told that the award itself would arrive later. I waited and waited, but nothing arrived. In a follow-up e-mail I was told that the award was an original sculpture and would take time to hand craft.
Just two weeks ago the award arrived and when I opened the box I could hardly believe what a beautiful work of art the award is. It was rendered by Canadian artist Michael Perks who lives and works in Okotoks, Alberta. Michael recently won his own award as Best New Artist at the 2011 Calgary Stampede.
To me, the award is so very special because of the way Michael interpreted the Northern Lights. I remember vividly the first time I witnessed the Northern Lights. I was standing on a mountaintop in Canada’s Yukon wilderness when they suddenly blazed across the sky. Nothing had prepared me for that moment. They literally took my breath away and I sank to my knees, thankful for the privilege of living in that moment. Every time I have seen them since I feel awed by their majestic, mysterious beauty. They are humbling beyond measure.
In Michael’s sculpture I see the lights streaking across the stylized mountain. As honored as I am with the award itself, I am equally honored to have Michael’s work remind me every day of the beauty one experiences uniquely in Canada’s amazing landscape.