Pratt museum celebrates art inspired by musical works

Exhibition is the first for museum’s new executive director Jennifer Gibbins

Denali montage, a composite of the six artists’ work featured in the show, is the exhibit’s “logo.” Photo courtesy of the Pratt Museum

Art in response to music inspired by wilderness is in the spotlight through May 25 at Homer’s Pratt Museum, in its new big exhibition under the leadership of Jennifer Gibbins, who joined the museum as executive director in late 2019.

Visitors are invited to bring their smart phone or tablet with QR reader and earbuds to the exhibition, as each visual work in the show is accompanied by a musical score and QR link to audio of the composition by which it was inspired. QR code stands for “quick response code.”

The system, originally used by Japan’s automotive industry to manage components, is now commonly used to store URLs and when scanned using a smartphone or tablet opens a webpage of information.

Denali Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness joins the work of visual artists six members of the Elements Artist Group: Nancy Hause-Johnson, Marybee Kaufman, Ree Nancarrow, Margo Klass, Susan Campbell and Charlotte Bird, who created 18 pieces of art in response to musical works by nine composers from the Denali National Park Composing in the Wilderness program.

In 2017 adventurer-composer Stephen Lias led a group of nine composers into the backcountry of Denali National Park for four days for an intense and immersive creative experience. The group included Jesse Budel, Christian Dubeau, Corinna Anne Hogan, Aaron Keyt, Brent Lawrence, Libby Meyer, Christina S. Rusnak, Dawn Sonntag and Jennifer Wright.

Through hikes and interactions with scientists, naturalists and wilderness guides, the composers gained an intimate knowledge of the park. Their resulting compositions were created over a four-day period at the remote Coal Creek Camp at Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

“Continuum” by Ree Nancarrow, created in response to Turbulence composed by Libby Meyer. Photo courtesy of the Pratt Museum

The composers then shared the musical scores ideas and information about specific locations in the park that kindled their inspiration. The Elements artists listened to the compositions and created works of visual art in response to the music, while also drawing on their own personal experience with the transformative potency of living, working, traveling or being an artist in residence in the park.

Hausele-Johnson, a ceramic tile artist in Fairbanks, works with scientists, artists and music composers to produce public art. Kaufman lives at the edge of Denali Nation al Park, where she has spent 32 ears painting landscapes and wildlife. Nancarrow, also of the Denali Park area, makes wall quits using many of her own fabrics which are dyed, painted and/or silkscreened.

Klass, of Fairbanks, creates mixed-media box constructions and artist books inspired by the unique sense of light and space in the Alaskan landscape. Campbell, of Fairbanks, writes poetry and creates artist books inspired by her explorations of northern landscapes. Bird, who was an artist in residence at Denali National Park in 2014, creates textile-based artwork, and is currently focused on shapes and patterns in the natural world, particularly in Alaska.

Gibbins, previously a longtime member of the Cordova community and former owner and editor of The Cordova Times, has over 25 years of experience in non-profit leadership and management. She has worked previously with the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Eyak Preservation Council, Prince William Soundkeeper, Alaska SeaLife Center and Alaska Humanities Forum.

The Pratt Museum opened its doors in 1968 and operates as a private 501(c )(3) non-profit for the benefit of the community. Learn more at prattmseum.org.