Class of 2010 graduate Justin Levesque's obsession with Iceland can be traced back to his youth, when his love for the arctic nation's most recognizable pop star helped to spurn his passion.
"I'll be very candid about it. I'm a huge Björk fan," said Levesque.
Besides Björk's unique and unmistakable voice, there's something else about Iceland that's piqued the interest of the Photography alumnus -- the growing connection between the arctic nation and the state of Maine.
Curious about Iceland's involvement on the Portland, Maine waterfront, Levesque set out to tell the story of what exactly was going on.
The project? Documenting the nine day journey from Portland, Maine to Reykjavik, Iceland on Icelandic shipping company Eimskip's container ship, the MV Selfoss, taking the route known as the "Green Line."
And normally, passage aboard one of Eimskip's vessels is not open to the public.
The multimedia project, ICELANDx207, aims to document Iceland's recent entry into the Maine waterfront and the economy.
His mediums? Photography and podcast.
Levesque's goals on the ship were two-fold.
Through photography, Levesque focused on creating portraits of Icelanders in Maine, capturing the activity inside the revitalized International Marine Terminal in Portland, Maine and chronicling his travels on the ship as it made its way to Reykjavík harbor.
Levesque's "Green Line" podcast strived to provide residents of Maine and Iceland with unprecedented access aboard the container ship to show just how the two cities, countries, cultures and economies are connected.
The nine-day journey was made possible after Levesque was awarded an Individual Artist Project Grant from the Maine Arts Commission. But that grant would not have been possible if he didn't first reach out to the Maine North Atlantic Development Office (MENADO) and the office's director, Dana Eidsness.
"I don't think I would have been as comfortable calling (MENADO), which is a business entity, if I were so immersed in an art-only world," said Levesque. "I think I was sort of used to this combination of different sectors and different disciplines being in the same place ... which is sort of like the experience at USM."
The end result of Levesque's work will be exhibited in conjunction with the 2016 Arctic Council meetings hosted by MENADO in Portland, Maine Oct. 4-6.
Levesque recently sat down with USM to talk about the development of the project, provide behind-the-scenes access into his workspace and creative process and explain how this whole idea was possible thanks to the lessons he learned and the connections he made from attending USM.