On view Nov. 7 through Feb. 22, 2015
It can take five years to acquire and process enough raw materials to weave a traditional Alaska Native basket.
First, there are multiple expeditions to harvest plant materials. Then, the spruce roots, maidenhair fern, cedar bark, willow roots and grass require various preparations, which can include roasting, splitting and dyeing. A design is created, often from knowledge passed down through generations. Only then can an artist begin weaving. Not surprisingly, this art form is practiced by a dedicated few.
In a time when handmade objects are increasingly rare, It’s All Material celebrates craftsmanship. From baleen and ivory to metal and glass, the exhibition highlights the natural materials found in the North and explains the methods that have evolved to shape those materials into something functional, beautiful, or both.
The exhibition features more than 100 objects from the Anchorage Museum’s collection, including a Fran Reed fish skin sculpture and a Delores Churchill teaching basket. In videos, contemporary artists such as potter Peter Brondz, Chilkat weaver Shelly Laws and metalsmith Rick Potter demonstrate how they select and work with raw materials. Visitors can touch samples of furs and gutskin, or peer through an HD microscope for a close-up view of antler and mountain goat wool.
By offering insight into an object’s origins, It’s All Material promotes a deeper appreciation for the resources, inventiveness, time and skill required to make museum-quality objects.