New Exhibit Highlights Fairbanks' Imagination and Ingenuity
Submitted by Kerynn Fisher
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Sometimes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and this is certainly the case with the University of Alaska Museum's latest special exhibition, Made in Fairbanks. The exhibit, which opened over the weekend, features an eclectic mix of more than 350 items made right here in Alaska's Golden Heart, ranging from traditional Athabascan beadwork to computer-generated art to commercial products.
"To celebrate our community's centennial, we wanted an exhibit that would capture the imagination and ingenuity of our neighbors and colleagues who share the same resourcefulness as early Fairbanksans," says Wanda Chin, the museum's coordinator of exhibition and design. "This display is an incredible assortment that reflects on the opportunities and inspirations that characterize life in Fairbanks."
Some pieces – a microchip designed by UAF students and imprinted with the world's smallest University of Alaska seal, Delores Sloan's Field of Flowers beaded baby belt and Julie Scott's Blooming Nine Way quilt – are all more intricate than they seem at first glance and deserve a closer look. A small cast bronze sculpture by Bill Brody may also seem simple at first, until you realize that it was cast from a mold generated on a 3-D printer, from an image Brody created on BLUI, a new virtual reality computer-user interface being developed by the Arctic Region Supercomputer Center.
Others items show the range of artistry and functionality in a given medium. For example, the pieces in the metalwork section range from an ice chisel made by Leif Eric Johansen to Judie Gumm jewelry to a Wilbur Brothers snow scoop, prompting commentary on winters past when such implements were actually needed. The wood items include a Nutshell Pram boat made by Deborah and Gary Porter, a Resophonic guitar made by Gregrory Pacetti and Tom Schultz's Wood on Wood, an etched portrait of William R. Wood.
The exhibit also includes a number of more familiar items – books and CDs, posters from KUAC-FM and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, an Apocalypse Design musher's parka and food products like Silver Gulch's Fairbanks Lager, Santa's Smokehouse canned salmon and Hot Licks Ice Cream. While these are all found in homes throughout Fairbanks and might seem rather mundane for a museum exhibit, they help round out the spectrum of locally produced products.
"I think this is one of the best exhibits we've had in recent years," says Museum Director Aldona Jonaitis, "and it makes me proud to live in Fairbanks, surrounded by such exceptional creativity."
Made in Fairbanks should appeal to a broad cross-section of the community whether they are art aficionados, Fairbanks enthusiasts or simply curious about the range of objects on display. The exhibit is grouped into sections on fiber arts, multimedia, wood, food/products, Native arts, ceramics, metalwork, visual arts, photography, literary works, film, music, and performing arts. A team of community guest curators helped select the items for each section, some of them fresh from artists' studios and others borrowed from living rooms in town.
Made in Fairbanks runs through early March 2003 in the UA Museum's Special Exhibit Gallery. Located on the UAF campus, the museum is open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. weekdays and from noon - 5 p.m. weekends. Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for senior citizens, $3 for youth ages 7-17 and free for UAF students and children 6 and under. The museum will be open from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. during the UAF holiday break Dec. 24 through Jan. 1, 2003 and will be closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day.