Anchorage Museum Intersects Culture with Arctic Policy

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Indigenous artists lend their voices to global discussion on Arctic resource utilization and preservation at Arctic Frontiers conference in Norway

Curated Conversations at Anchorage Museum

The Anchorage Museum curates conversations as well as objects, creating opportunities for discussion.Credit: Michael Conti/Anchorage Museum

It is important that museums and artists participate at international leadership conferences convened around Arctic issues. Artists are adept at conveying the complexity of place from a distinctly human and cultural perspective.

The Anchorage Museum is bringing Indigenous artists from Alaska to provide a cultural context to the Jan. 24-29 Arctic Frontiers conference in Norway. The museum and the Art Museum of Northern Norway will co-present a discussion on how culture is expressed through art in the Arctic as part of cultural programming offered in conjunction with the conference.

“The Anchorage Museum curates conversations as well as objects, creating opportunities for discussion as a way to bring people together and build community,” says Anchorage Museum Director Julie Decker. “It is important that museums and artists participate at international leadership conferences convened around Arctic issues. Artists are adept at conveying the complexity of place from a distinctly human and cultural perspective.”

Called a “curated” conversation, the event is part of the Anchorage Museum’s Polar Lab program, which explores issues facing the North that have global impact.

The evening panel will discuss how culture in the Arctic is expressed through art, the potential political function of art, and how art affects regional identity. The event occurs 5 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, at Kunstmuseet (Northern Norway Art Museum). Panelists include:

-Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Athabascan/Iñupiaq), a contemporary artist whose work chronicles the ongoing struggle for self-definition and identity in the Alaska context;
-Da-ka-xeen Mehner (Tlingit/N’ishga), a photographer and sculptor who uses the tools of family ancestry and personal history to build his art;
-Aaron Leggett (Dena’ina Athabascan), an Anchorage Museum curator who co-curated “Dena’inaq’ Huch’ulyeshi: The Dena’ina Way of Living,” the first major exhibition on Dena’ina Athabascan culture.
-Charis Gullickson, curator, Northern Norway Art Museum
-Marita Isobel Solberg, Norwegian musician and visual artist

Curated Conversations traveled to the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland last October. Anchorage Museum Director Julie Decker moderated a panel including museum curator Aaron Leggett and Alaska Native artists Da-ka-xeen Mehner, Joan Kane, Allison Warden, and Sonya Kelliher-Combs. Panelists discussed issues related to Indigenous culture and perspective in the North.

The museum’s goal is to continue to insert dialogue about culture into the international Arctic policy arena. In addition to traveling to U.S. destinations throughout 2016, Curated Conversations will also travel to Canada in the fall, hosted by the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse.

ANCHORAGE MUSEUM
The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is the largest museum in Alaska and one of the top 10 most visited attractions in the state. The museum’s mission is to connect people, expand perspectives and encourage global dialogue about the North and its distinct environment. Visit the Anchorage Museum online at anchoragemuseum.org. Find more news about the Anchorage Museum at anchoragemuseum.org/about-us/news.

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Laura Carpenter
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