Andrea Bowers, It Gives Me Life, 2017

Andrea Bowers, It Gives Me Life, 2017


On view October 6, 2023 – September 15, 2024
Third Floor, West Wing

"The only way to survive is by taking care of one another.”
— Grace Lee Boggs, Chinese American activist and philosopher

As the Arctic continues to warm at four times the rate of the rest of the planet, Northerners are grappling with the practical and existential consequences of climate change. The destabilizing effects are numerous—melting permafrost, vanishing sea ice, unpredictable weather patterns, and struggling wildlife species—all of which are playing a role in reshaping Northern lifeways. While so much of this story is one of sadness and loss, stories of resilience, ingenuity, and hope are embedded throughout. Our collective story of survival is written by those creating space for hope, encouraging innovation, and envisioning sustainable futures grounded in equity and justice. Often, these stories, initiatives, and efforts are guided by Indigenous knowledges that remind us how we might live in reciprocity with the land, as Alaska Native peoples and global Indigenous communities have done since time immemorial.

How to Survive considers the idea of survival through hope and care, and asks how gestures and practices of love, protection, nurturing, and sharing can help us face climate change. Examining ideas of interconnectedness, listening, and caretaking, works on display invite reflection, encourage action, and urge us to consider our responsibilities to each other as well as to the plants, animals, lands, and waters of our shared planet.

Installations by female-identifying contemporary artists, cultural belongings from the museum’s collection, recent design innovations, and a Community Climate Archive featuring voices from across Alaska prompt us to consider the habits we must nurture to bring forth more positive futures.

We hope this exhibition offers many opportunities for discussion with yourself, or with your fellow visitors. There are no easy answers here, only gestures that show us other ways of being are possible and within our power to imagine and enact.

Making How to Survive

A central concern in creating How to Survive was to explore how ideas of care and sustainability presented within artworks could extend to the practice of exhibition-making. Many of the large installations were fabricated in Anchorage through long-distance collaboration with artists, using local repurposed and refuse materials. This greatly reduced our shipping footprint. We chose to work primarily with artists who have social, educational, skill-sharing, or activist elements embedded in their practices, which helped to prioritize relationships and embrace risk over aesthetic perfection. Acknowledging that we are by no means perfect in this process and being willing to share our successes and failures is part of our commitment to embodying the ideas of How to Survive.

Explore Further

Program Events

Member Preview: How to Survive

6 - 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5 — In-Person

Join curators and artists on the floor for a special member preview and tour of How to Survive, opening to the public on Friday, Oct....

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Opening Night: How to Survive

6 - 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 — In-Person

Join curators, artists, and community members on the floor to celebrate the opening of How to Survive. Examining ideas of interconnectedness, caretaking, and listening —between...

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How to Survive Workshop: Basket Weaving with Baling Straps

9 - 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 — In-Person

Since 2012, Hawai'i-based artist Gaye Chan has foraged plastic baling straps and developed a weaving technique to make containers while learning a basic skill practiced...

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How to Survive Artist Spotlight: Carolina Caycedo and Erin Ggaadimits Ivalu Gingrich

Noon, Tuesday, Oct. 10 — Online

Join us for a series of virtual talks/Q&A sessions with artists featured in the How to Survive exhibition. Artists explore their own practice in relationship...

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This exhibition is made possible, in part, with support from the following sponsors:

John and Carolann Weir

Additional Support

Alaska Rock Gym
Jody Barton, BAFCO
Joe Hok, Nautical Marine Alaska
Kristina Tirman, Manager, Arctic Marine Debris, Ocean Conservancy
LFS Marine & Outdoor
Pete Robinson
Ryan Michele and his team at Dimond Costco
Melanie Lombard
Amanda Kenny

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