Public art inspires people to look at landscape in a new way
The Anchorage Museum’s latest piece of public art looks like a collection of large sticks, arranged almost tepee-style on the museum lawn. But they're actually trees that were charred in a recent Anchorage wildfire. Some also show signs of damage from spruce bark beetles.
Museum director Julie Decker said the installation is meant to remind people of the natural world that is all around us but that we don’t always take the time to see.
“Anchorage has deep connections to nature, but sometimes in our day-to-day life we are living an urban life,” Decker said. “And to have these moments in familiar places where we can reconnect to the natural world is, I think, compelling.”
The installation is one of several pieces of temporary outdoor art launched to coincide with the museum’s annual Anchorage Design Week. The installations are also a part of SEED Lab, which a release describes as “an initiative that joins creative practitioners, civic leaders, and community members to envision positive futures for the North.”
Decker said the art is intended to provoke conversation about climate change, connections to the natural world and the values of the Dena’ina people who originally inhabited the land where Anchorage now is.
Another installation is located at the Anchorage small boat harbor where a ramp marked with tide readings invites people to climb up and experience a sweeping view of Cook Inlet. Artist Petra Sattler-Smith said it’s a view that people might not realize can be experienced so close to downtown Anchorage.
“It’s special and nobody really knows about it,” Sattler-Smith said. “Just creating a space helps people to understand, maybe in the future, to come out here and enjoy this. Because it's public — we should.”
One place that many people know about is Kincaid Park, where another installation is located. But what they may not know, according to museum worker Jonny Hayes, is the early Native history of the park.
To explain that, the project features what looks like a blue telephone booth on the bridge that crosses over the park road. But there isn’t a phone inside. Instead people are directed to call a phone number to hear a prerecorded story of an epic battle between the Aluetiiq people and the Dena’ina of Eklutna.
After the history lesson is over, callers are invited to leave a voicemail about their own experiences of the park.
The public art installations will be up until Friday, Oct. 25 and are free for anyone to visit.
A guided bus tour of the artwork is planned for Sunday, Oct. 6 with $15 tickets available for purchase at anchoragedesignweek.org
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