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The North is often romanticized for its natural wonders, but many residents spend long winter months mostly indoors. Artists draw attention to the landscapes behind closed doors: the familiar, mundane, and un-picturesque aspects of Northern life.
Karinna Gomez, (b. 1987) Broke Down 4Runner, Fairbanks, AK, 2017 Collage on paper On loan from the artist
Anchorage artist Karinna Gomez’s Broke Down 4Runner, Fairbanks, AK shows a quintessential Alaskan front-yard scene: a broken car with the implements to fix it scattered in the snow. The winder landscape is rendered through an assemblage of loosely collaged elements of bare trees and pink sky.
Rachel Mulvihill, (b. 1985) Dream House, 2017 Acrylic on canvas Collection of the Anchorage Museum, Rasmuson Found Art Acquisition Fund, 2019.22.1
Unangax̂-European artist Rachel Mulvihill considers herself a landscape painter, depicting interiors and urbanized yards that emphasize the mundane aspects of life in the North. Her intimate, unassuming landscapes are often slyly humorous.
Mulvihill is interested in domestic life in Alaska, the process of home modification and adaptation, and the fragile boundary between interior and exterior spaces. Dream House shows an elderly man repairing drywall in a nondescript area of a home. The harsh fluorescent light, the bedsheet draped over items in the closet, the unused wooden beams—all are authentic details of overlooked and unremarkable aspects of Alaskan living. The print of the man’s shirt is the only reference to the world outside.
Annie Pootoogook, (1969-2016) Watching the Simpsons on TV, 2003 Ink, crayon, and pencil on paper Private Collection
Artist Annie Pootoogook came from a family of well-known Canadian Inuit artists. The seeming simplicity of her colored-pencil drawings belies their pointed social commentary on contemporary Inuit life. She did not shy away from depicting alcoholism, domestic violence, and other social ills wrought by colonization.
Watching the Simpsons on TV shows a young child watching The Simpsons while a man helps a woman remove a baby from the hood of her parka. The picture is a reminder of the dominance of American popular culture throughout much of the world.
Tiina Itkonen, (b. 1968) Two polar bear trousers and three towels, 2002 Pigment print Collection of the Anchorage Museum, 2016.27.1
Finnish artist Tiina Itkonen’s photograph of trousers and towels in Savissivik, Greenland, offers a slice of domestic life both familiar and unfamiliar—the ubiquitous clothesline hung with Inuit clothing against the winter landscape.
Kathryn C. Mallory, (b. 1962)Lena & Pete with the Laundry & the Meat, 2007Oil on linenCollection of the Anchorage Museum, Rasmuson Foundation Art Acquisition Fund, 2008.20.4
Fairbanks artist Kathryn Mallory created this painting based on visits she made to villages on the Seward Peninsula. The composition emphasizes the clothesline in the foreground, while the butchering activity occurs in the distance. The bright crimson blood from the meat echoes the colors of the hanging laundry.
Janet Kigusiuq, (1926-2005)Mosquitoes in the Camp, late 20th to early 21st centuryCrayon on paperPrivate Collection
Canadian Inuit artist Janet Kigusiuq worked in drawing, collage, and printmaking, and is known for realistic and abstract representations of Arctic life. In this work, two dogs tethered to rock - like forms sleep outside a large pink tent. Kigusiuq has painstakingly covered its surface with the outlines of hundreds of mosquitoes — rarely represented in artworks, but an integral part of the experience of being on the land in summertime.