DURHAM — Award-winning nature photographer James Balog, who was featured in the acclaimed documentary “Chasing Ice” and has exhibited work in more than 100 museums and galleries worldwide, will receive the 2014 Duke LEAF Award for Lifetime Environmental Achievement in the Fine Arts.
Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment will present the award to Balog during a 2 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, April 12, in Griffith Film Theater, located in the Bryan Center on West Campus.
“As a photographer, James Balog inspires us to action for the environment though both shock and awe,” said Nicholas School Dean William L. Chameides. “His shocking pictorial record of change in the Arctic brings home the realities of climate change in a way that scientific facts and figures cannot. His awe-inspiring documentation of the beauty and grandeur of the natural world can reach deep down into our very being and profoundly connect us to the natural world.”
“The LEAF Award selection committee was impressed not only by Balog’s artistry, but also the scientific significance of his work and the visceral emotional punch it can deliver,” Balog said.
Best known for his dramatic photos and time-lapse videos documenting the rapid melting of ancient glaciers as a result of climate change, Balog has been a leader in photographing and artistically interpreting the natural environment for three decades. He and his Extreme Ice Survey team were featured in the internationally acclaimed 2012 documentary Chasing Ice and in the 2009 NOVA special “Extreme Ice.” He is the author of “ICE: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers” and seven other books.
The Duke LEAF has been given annually since 2009 to an artist whose work lifts the human spirit by inspiring others to help forge a more sustainable future. Past recipients are Robert Redford, Jackson Browne, Barbara Kingsolver, John Sayles and Alexander McCall Smith.
In addition to his museum and gallery exhibitions, Balog’s photos have been published extensively in National Geographic and other major magazines. He has been honored with many awards, including, in recent years, the American Geophysical Union’s Presidential Citation for Science and Society, a 2010 Heinz Award, and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Alberta. In 2009, he served as a NASA representative at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen.
“It is hard to see the effects of changing climate,” Balog has said, “but when ice melts people intuitively know what that means. Melting glaciers are the most visually dramatic manifestations of climate change on the Earth today. If everyone could hear the story the ice is trying to tell us, there’s no way we would be having an argument about whether humans are causing climate change. We are.”