Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 6:33 PM on Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Who has lived here?' New Pratt Museum exhibit ponders recent, distant past

Staff Writer


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Ryjil Christianson's "Honorific Early Works."

A sandblasted shard of beach glass, a blue bead, a bit of worked bone, middens of sea shells and ancient art carved into a sea cave: evidence of Kachemak Bay's ancient and recent past compels us to consider prior inhabitants. In the Pratt Museum's latest collaboration between art and science, artists and poets — and a few artist-poets — examine that theme. "Who has lived here?" the exhibit asks.

"Perhaps men with stone voices / came over the water to take / everything soft," Erin Coughlin Hollowell suggests in her poem "Soonroodna," about an ancient archaeological site. "Perhaps others came / and with unknowing hands / unhoused the faces of spirits / from their place of echo and tide."

Some pieces reproduce images of that mysterious long ago time. Ryjil Christianson's "Honorific Early Works" replicates on large rocks some of the bay's petroglyphs. One image of a human comes from rock art found on Bear Island near where Christianson lived as a child, while another set comes from Sadie Cove. "For me, these glyphs represent a powerful and ancient artistic spirit still present in our region," she writes in her artist's statement.


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Gina Hollomon's "Fox Farming in Bear Cove."

Jo Going also interprets a petroglyph in "Spirit Boat Arriving," a group of abstract figures. In Going's bright, colorful style, the image has been painted cherry red and draped with pink lights. Gordon Terpening's "Otter Woman" also gives a modern twist to ancient artifacts with a barbed point made of aluminum and a beaded sculpture of an otter on the point's base.

Halibut Cove artist Annette Bellamy, continuing her ceramic replicas of tools, shows how time ravages metal with a wheel with broken spokes, "Tool Form." Paul Dungan's large-scale ceramic vertebrae, "Bones," depict sometimes the only evidence of past peoples, the skeletons they have left behind, either of animals they've hunted or their own. Gina Hollomon's "Fox Farming in Bear Cove" uses an actual fox farm door to frame a ceramic sculpture of a fox, as if it's frozen in a moment from long ago.

Some works show the experience of archaeology itself. Savanna Bradley's "Invitation to Archaeology" makes a collage using cut up fragments of a scholarly report. Lynn Naden's "Strata," a hanging sculpture made of cast paper, illustrates the vertical history that might be seen on the profile of an archaeological pit. A lamp that changes colors shines through the work.

Judy Winn's "Explanation of Time" continues the theme, a two-part piece with a grid of rusty metal impressed upon canvas, leaving its mark, and then removed.

Poet Linda Martin brings the past back to the present with "At Home Now In Homer," about marrying into the Homer life. She writes, "Thirty years pass, shifting the familiar so slowly you hardly remember gravel on Main Street, a library too small for its books."

The exhibit also includes art by Atz Kilcher, Kim Terpening, Jane Regan and Sandy Gillespie and poetry by Eva Saulitis.

"Who Has Lived Here?" remains on exhibit through Dec. 30.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com. He has a sculpture, "Dig," in the "Who Has Lived Here?" show at the Pratt.