Sámi Dreams

July 1 to October 31, 2023

This exhibit features 18 photographic portraits of Sámi men and women in Scandinavia along with recorded interviews by researcher Randall Hyman that touch on indigenous rights, climate change, reindeer husbandry, art, and other topics. The collection, assembled in a one-month sojourn across northern Norway, gives the Sámi a voice for sharing their concerns about a world that is swiftly changing around them. To accompany the photographs, Vesterheim has invited American artists to exhibit jewelry inspired by Sámi art, traditions, and history.

Through his research, Hyman explains that for centuries the Sámi people have been more or less voiceless due to discrimination and oppression. Northern Europe’s only indigenous people, they call themselves Sámi and are not just “reindeer people.” Of the 80,000 Sámi living across northern Scandinavia, only 10% make their living from reindeer. From their perch atop Europe, they have much to say concerning climate change and societal change within Scandinavia and have only recently begun to find their voice.

Hyman says records show with dramatic certainty that average annual temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as quickly as the rest of the globe. And history shows with equal certainty that the world often benefits from hearing indigenous perspectives.

Teresa Faris of Whitewater, Wisconsin, is one of the featured artists in the exhibition and has Sámi ancestry. She says about her CWaB:Lien series, “The work addresses my desire to understand the overwhelming idea of birthright and the debts we must pay with our body and mind in order to fit in and survive while living in diaspora. This work is reminiscent of traditional jewelry and employs design, technique and materials that simultaneously reveal, and conceal.”

Randall Hyman has traveled the globe on magazine assignments for nearly four decades covering natural history and travel topics from Northern Europe to South America to Asia to Africa. His photo essays and articles have appeared in Smithsonian, National Geographic Traveler, Discover, American History, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Huffington Post, Science, Wildlife Conservation, National Wildlife, British Heritage, and various National Geographic books.

As a 2013 Fulbright Scholar in Norway and guest of the Norwegian Polar Institute, he covered field science, resource development, and climate change in the Arctic for a number of organizations and publications. In 2015, he was the distinguished Josephine Patterson Albright Fellow of the Alicia Patterson Foundation, expanding on his coverage of Arctic climate change. In 2018 he photographed and produced this exhibit about the Sámi, northern Europe’s only indigenous people, which began touring North America in 2019. He continues to focus on Arctic topics and lecture on polar climate change across the United States and Europe.

Sámi Dreams is a traveling exhibit organized by Norway House.

This is exhibit is made possible by generous gifts to the Vesterheim Annual Fund from the friends and family of Harley and Norma Refsal.