Anchorage Museum opens traveling ‘Living Alaska’ exhibit

ANCHORAGE – In 2003, Alaska’s Rasmuson Foundation launched its Art Acquisition Fund to provide grants to museums that collect current work by Alaska artists. In its first 10 years, the fund distributed nearly $2 million and helped 33 museums purchase more than 1,000 works by 436 artists.

“Living Alaska: A Decade of Collecting Contemporary Art for Alaska Museums,” which opened Nov. 6 at the Anchorage Museum, presents a retrospective of these works. This traveling exhibition, curated by Sven Haakanson Jr., includes 25 works from 12 Alaska museums. The exhibition at the Anchorage Museum also includes 48 additional works from the Anchorage Museum’s contemporary art collection.

Thematically, the exhibition focuses on the natural environment, Alaska Native experience, and life in 21st century Alaska. Artwork explores Alaska’s landscapes, animals, materials, and the issues that surround them. Another group of pieces reflects the perpetuation of Alaska Native traditions. Artists examine, reinterpret and celebrate cultural practices, fusing traditional and new media to express their 21st century identities. A third group of works documents the contemporary Alaska experience, using visual art to study subjects like politics, employment, and modern material culture.

“Artists help us examine the human condition which is demonstrated through creative expression in the form of visual and performing arts, cultural traditions, literary arts, and media. Artists help interpret complex phenomena, or simply convey the great beauty that surrounds us in our natural world,” said Diane Kaplan, President and CEO of Rasmuson Foundation, in a release. “We hope the Art Acquisition Fund has made a difference for artists and museums in the state, and that we are further along in creating an important and invaluable permanent collection of contemporary artwork for Alaskans.”

“Living Alaska: A Decade of Collecting Contemporary Art for Alaska Museums” is on view through Feb. 7, at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.

Following its debut at the Anchorage Museum, the 25 pieces of the retrospective will travel to museums around Alaska and be supplemented with their own Art Acquisition Fund-sponsored works. Additional locations are Pratt Museum (Homer), Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum (Juneau), University of Alaska Museum of the North (Fairbanks), Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository (Kodiak) and Museum of the Aleutians (Unalaska).

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