I've been waiting for this photography exhibition.
I've been following it for a year on social media, where one image a day was posted -- portraits on weekdays, images of place on the weekends -- and I've cared about the importance of such an undertaking, not only because I have the privilege of living in Alaska, but also because I have the privilege of knowing the photographer, Brian Adams.
You've obviously noticed by now that I am no photographer. Welding an i-phone at last night's opening does zero justice to this exhibition. Folks, if you live in Anchorage, please visit the Anchorage Museum to see this work in person and read each of the interviews/descriptions alongside the 50 images (out of 500 medium format photographs) curated for this installation in the ConocoPhillips gallery, 2nd floor. For the rest of the world, please visit the I AM INUIT website, where you'll be blown away by the humanity and resonance of this project.
You can also follow I AM INUIT on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook where images and interviews are posted and archived. This exhibition is a part of the Anchorage Museum's Polar Lab series -- "a reflection of the cultural, political, commercial, artistic and scientific attraction exerted by the international Arctic and subarctic" -- which seeks to connect art, science and the environment through various exhibitions and programs.
Brian gave a well-attended talk on the evening of, February 24, 2017, despite the slippery roads and intermittent freezing rain. Alaskans come out to support our artistic community, especially for someone as talented and -- as many of us agreed -- as nice as Brian.
(Even my slinking-terrified-Bethel-rescued-neurotic cat likes him.)
The work will travel from here to various venues, with a goal to travel the exhibition to other circumpolar countries. Follow I AM INUIT to find out where it will be heading next. In the meantime, check out Brian's website for other important work such as Disappearing Villages and Standing Rock-The Black Snake.
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One year ago on this blog: A history of relics.
Two years ago on this blog: Finer.
Other posts about the Anchorage Museum:
AIDS memorial quilt in Alaska.
Sami stories in Alaska.
I'm sorting through process photographs from the last 2 or 3 years, revisiting images and objects that have inspired me, or forced me to pause, or served as jumping off points. It's been a good exercise and I realize how bombarded I've been with current imagery and noise; I'd jettisoned my own thoughts to make room for it all. It's been good to reclaim moments that still feel pure.
Yesterday someone referred to her need to constantly listen to the news as having the same effect as coming upon a car accident: "You want to look away, but you can't stop staring."
"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."
"(...) A 'romance with the fragment' begins when our childhood pockets fill with relics from the natural world -- in this case, objects found on the shores of Prince William Sound, Alaska -- and later, as adults, when we fill our most vacant spaces with the weight of the spiritual or the worry of the inevitable. The body is the ultimate reliquary for pain and loss; we are shaped and defined by what we cling to despite its apparent worthlessness."
A year ago, I finished "Reliquary #8: Scroll," which is currently exhibited at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center as part of the All-Alaska Biennial where it received a Juror's Merit Award. It has lived a short, full life as part of the Reliquary Series -- an on-going exploration of form, found object and reverence for the discarded.
The piece took 67.75 hours to complete, not including the work on the old metal dock bollards, which I took up again this fall, concerned about rust bloom and corrosive contact with fragile fabrics. When polishing by hand proved thankless, I burned through fine wire grinders, then white felt polishing wheels now permeated with rusty froth and beeswax.
These objects now have the luster and heft of cast bronze. The weight of hours. I love them.
Like the other components of this work, they were found in a heap, in some sense rescued.
In another sense, simply seen and considered and pocketed.
Artists submitting to the All-Alaska Biennial were asked to explore the theme of "the authentic North, its people, materials and landscapes, through a variety of interpretations." And while there could be a literalness to this -- all glaciers and arctic foxes and and the sharp sheen of ice -- I feel like I've been in Alaska long enough to present my own authentic relationship to this place.
I feel closest to it in Prince William Sound.
Picking up trash.
To be clear, I don't use garbage in my artwork, but I use the time handling and hauling it to observe and collect my thoughts on how I fit into this vastness, this depth and solitude, this never-ending work my young family has taken up, not because we are paid or want recognition, but because we love this place and its wildlife.
In our bumbling earnestness, we have been known to foul debris collection data on certain documented (yet, unmarked) beaches. That's been embarrassing to learn, but not enough of an excuse to stop.
We are just one small boat with children and some trash bags.
Besides, to stop this kind of work is to force oneself to stop seeing. Once your eyes are open to the potential of a thing or a place, how do you close them again?
I've been thrilled to see this piece, my thoughts, going out into the world.
And since the work doesn't look like much coiled in a cardboard box, I owe a lot of its showmanship to the willingness of my photographer, Brian Adams, who foremost shoots blow-your-mind contemporary portraits of people and place, not objects. But it's probably for this reason he's able to capture the soul of some thing.
In some place.
For as remote as I sometimes feel, it's this exact quality that grants me clarity.
I've been in Alaska 15 years, the longest I've lived anywhere.
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If you are curious about the work we sometimes do on Alaskan beaches, check out the post What we found, 2 and for work on other, warmer, beaches, there's always the first What we found post.
And, if you wonder about the impetus and/or influences behind my work, please visit the Histories category in the side bar where I share stories and process images.
The All-Alaska Biennial is on exhibit in Anchorage until April 10, 2016.
That Anchorage Press Article is here. Dawnell Smith is a talented writer and a good friend.
You can follow me on Instagram: @amymeissnerartist or on my Facebook Page Amy Meissner, Artist
"Mama, your boobies are low and my boobies are high ...
I taped this quote to the mirror in my studio 5 years ago and I look at it every day. It makes me laugh.
Ask a woman what she wishes were different about her body and she will tell you: a less jiggly rear, bigger/smaller boobs, longer legs, thinner arms, a flatter stomach, pretty knees ...
Ask children this same question and they will be brutally honest about their wants. They will look you in the eye and answer:
Eyes that can see all the way to the other side of the earth.
Fingernails colored red-pink-yellow, red-pink-yellow.
A permanently attached spy kit. Right here.
Ask people what they wish were different about their lives, and many will say: More time.
And different about the world? More peace.
I'd say this, too.
Below are images* from this last month, during which I've tried to make time and tried to be peaceful.
I'll be writing soon about a maybe-big project I'm all fired up about, and will (gulp) ask for something I'd like to have, but I need to focus on that ask and get my thoughts straight first.
(Maybe you'll discover you have this something and would very much like to get rid of it -- No, no, no, it's not a jiggly rear, I already have one of those. Geez, people).
I'm looking for some specific old things, and I'll be giving them a voice. You could help if you'd like. More on that to come.
Meanwhile, it is 3 degrees Fahrenheit in Anchorage.
*If any of you are on Instagram, I'm @amymeissnerartist, where I post daily.
Oh for Pete's sake. I'm finally on Instagram.
#textileart #PrinceWilliamSound #AKArtists #AKlife #Alaska #handstitching
#designwall #boatnames #sketchbook #notebook #textileartist #quilt
#handembroidery #quilt #freeplay #kidunplugged #foundobjects #handquilting
#amymeissner #gyre #razorscooter #skate #artblog #beachcleanupAK #piano
Artist in Anchorage, Alaska, sometimes blogging about the collision of history, family & art, with the understanding that none exists without the other.