“In a Time of Change” is an extended arts, humanities and science collaborative examining change in the boreal forest through narrative.
The collaborative, a large group project coordinated through the University of Alaska Fairbanks, started in 2007 as a way to bring together people in these fields and consider transitions experienced in the environment.
“Boreal Forest Stories,” which opened at the Pratt Museum on May 25, is the sixth in a series of special exhibits sponsored by the collaborative.
“We took on a new theme and expanded group of participants to focus on different narratives on the boreal forest,” ITOC Director Mary Beth Leigh with the University of Alaska Fairbanks said.
The show includes the work of 44 contributors, visual artists, writers, educators and performers and organizations like the Folk School Fairbanks and North Star Ballet.
“It was a really large group. We challenged everyone involved to consider some aspect of the boreal forest and weave some storytelling into their work,” Leigh said.
According to the brochure from the show, the boreal forest forms a ring around the circumpolar north and is the world’s largest land-based biome. Also known as the taiga, it accounts for approximately one-third of Earth’s total forest area and covers the majority of interior Alaska. This ecozone spans eight countries: Canada, China, Finland, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
Collaborative work between the artists took approximately a year and a half and because it took place during COVID, many of the meetings were by Zoom, Leigh said.
“In those meetings, scientists would share their work and the artists would share theirs. The writers provided their approach to narrative and creative processes,” Leigh said. “Everyone eventually produced an individual or group piece that you can see at the Pratt today.”
Contributing artists Sara Tabbert and Teresa Shannon were available for art handling and exhibit installation for the opening show at the Pratt. Tabbert is a printmaker from Fairbanks who is “drifting off in wood working,” she said.
The show features a series of small boxes created by Tabbert.
Shannon is a ceramic artist from Fairbanks with two pieces in the show, a tea set and set of jars.
”Boreal Forest Stories” premiered in Fairbanks in September 2022 at the Bear Gallery with twice as much work as the traveling display.
“It was a huge body of work and we pared it down for touring,” Leigh said.
Homer is the first stop in a tour that includes Cordova, Valdez and the state museum in Juneau in 2025.
“After we get all the Alaska dates locked in, we’ll think about where else we can take it,” she said.
In addition to “Boreal Forest Stories,” the Pratt is offering nature journaling workshops with Kim McNett. Information is available on the Pratt Museum calendar website https://www.prattmuseum.org/events/list/.