cultures that maintain strong connections with nature. She began working
professionally as a magazine photographer in 2000 specializing in
human-interest stories and sensitive cultural issues. Her images have been
published and exhibited internationally. Her work has been included in the
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, National Geographic Society, The Swedish
Museum of Ethnography and Ajtte Sámi Museum. Larsen is a recipient of several
grants and fellowships including a Fulbright Fellowship, New Jersey State Arts
Council Fellowship, Women in Photography Individual Project Grant and the Lois
Roth Endowment. Erika received a BFA and MFA from Rochester Institute of
came on a search to understand the primal drive of the modern hunter by taking
an inclusive look at an original hunter-gatherer, nomadic society.
My photographs explore the Sámi herder’s symbiotic relationship with the environment, their existence in today’s world and their ancestral roots.This work was created in Kautokeino, Norway and Gallivare, Sweden where I worked as a beaga, or housekeeper, for a family of Sámi reindeer herders. I chose to immerse myself in this manner so that I could better understand what I was seeing and experiencing when creating the images. The actual image making process was intuitive but the process for understanding the culture required full immersion, through work, learning North Sámi language and listening.
The spoken Sami language, despite being derived from Finno- Uralic roots, has transformed over time and is considered an Arctic language rich in its ability to explain the natural world.
While the reindeer herding Sami remain largely insulated from urban life, they straddle two worlds – tied to their historical roots while acknowledging modern realities. They maintain a deep connection with nature and remain a semi- nomadic people, with little need for the world beyond the arctic landscape. Yet the Sami are acutely aware of and embrace global connectedness, modern technology and popular culture.
Living with the Sami, I have observed nature being at once both beautiful and brutal. Through their lives, I hope to better understand our role as stewards of the earth and recognize the cycles of life and death and the role of people within this circle.