Past Exhibits: 2015
RECUERDAS - October 1 through November 6, 2015
The Day of the Dead, El Día de los Muertos, is a traditional holiday in Mexico and many South American countries. It is based on ancient Aztec mingled with Christian beliefs. The official date for Day of the Dead is November 2nd, although it is celebrated between October 31st and November 2nd. These dates correspond with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. This correspondence results from the Catholic Church's efforts to find similarities between the indigenous and Christian beliefs. Today, the celebration takes place at about the same time ancient corn festivals were celebrated, when food from a plentiful harvest was shared with the deceased. This national holiday is considered to be the most important holiday of the year in Mexico and celebrations vary from state to state.
Though the subject matter may be considered morbid from the Anglo Saxon perspective, Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead joyfully, and though it occurs at the same time as Halloween, All Saints' Day and All Souls Day, the traditional mood is much brighter with emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, rather than fearing evil or malevolent spirits. The uplifting mood created during this time is in contrast to the sadness often associated with death because according to Aztec tradition, “one does not mourn for a departed one, for tears will fall on the path the soul must travel and the soul may slip and fall.”
The Day of the Dead is an important social ritual that the Latino people see as a way of recognizing the cycle of life and death that is human existence. In certain areas, an all-night candlelight vigil takes place by the graves of the family members. The whole occasion is festive, and everyone talks of the dead as if they were still alive. The Day of the Dead has become a time for people to remember, re-live, and enjoy.
Through the exhibit, Recuerdas, the Palmer Museum wanted to explore and educate the public on this facet of Mexican culture. For the past three years, artists throughout the valley were invited to create their interpretation of a traditional Mexican ofrenda, or offering(display), used during the Día de los Muertos festivities. For 2015, however, we opted to base the exhibit on one traditional ofrenda that is community based as opposed to creating an exhibit of multiple contemporary works. The result, is a deeply personal and exceptional display that offers an insight into love, life and loss.
ARTIFACTS AS ART - August 5 through September 30, 2015
In contemporary society, the widespread use of handheld electronic devices has allowed the public access to a wide variety of digital media that at times can be overwhelming. From recording every moment of our lives and instantly sharing it on Facebook, to monitoring our other social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, we are being inundated with visual stimulation. It is no wonder that we have found solace in nostalgia.
Today, we are seeing a resurgence of upcycling, using older objects to create functional or decorative “new” objects, in domestic design and décor. With the growing popularity of finding older objects to incorporate into our personal spaces, there comes a time we must all consider the long term cost. At what point should we stop and question which is better: upcycling an object and turning it into something new or maintaining its original integrity and preserving it as an artifact for future generations?
To help explore this issue, the Palmer Museum, with the support of local upcycle store, Cover Ups, has created the temporary exhibit Artifacts as Art. Within the exhibit, there are three rooms: a living room, bedroom and an office. Each of the rooms explores the idea of combining historical pieces with contemporary ones that will assist our viewers in asking themselves - Is there really a problem with recycling objects or are we honoring these older pieces by finding a new way to use them today?
OUR PEOPLE, OUR LAND, OUR IMAGES - June 1 through August 6, 2015
"Our People, Our Land, Our Images" has been carefully constructed as a first person, indigenous account—this curatorial approach is reflected in the choices of photographers and their subjects, the catalog essayists, and thoughtfully designed exhibition collateral. Reflecting contemporary trends, the photographs vary in style, from straightforward documentary accounts to aesthetically altered images combining overlays and collage. They stand united, however, in how they convey their makers’ connections to the land, community, and traditions. Artists’ statements, which appear in the catalog and on the gallery walls, convey the plurality of the indigenous voices and their concerns.
Ultimately, the multiplicity of perspectives represented by the exhibition and its texts sustains an open-ended experience that will actively engage audiences as they analyze how “the camera, in the hands of indigenous visionaries, becomes a tool or weapon that possesses the power to confront and deconstruct stereotypes, politics, and histories.” Our People, Our Land, Our Images provides insight into the variations in and history of bicultural identity. Further, the exhibition demonstrates the longevity and continuing vitality of native traditions of photography and answers the overdue and continuing need to expand the knowledge of indigenous self-presentation in photography.
The C. N. Gorman Museum at the University of California, Davis, originally organized this exhibition in conjunction with a conference for international indigenous photographers held at the museum. Veronica Passalacqua, curator at the C.N. Gorman Museum is the guest curator. For the past fifteen years, Passalacqua has been active in the field of Native North American art as a writer, curator, and scholar. Most recently, Passalacqua facilitated the donation/repatriation of a significant private Lakota collection of artifacts to the Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum, Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Previous curatorial work includes exhibitions at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, England; the Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock, Arizona; and the Barbican Art Gallery, London.
"Our People, Our Land, Our Images" is visiting the Palmer Museum courtesy of our local sponsors: The Alaska Humanities Forum, Alaska State Council of the Arts, City of Palmer, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, and the Dorothy G. Page Museum.
The exhibit will be on display from June 1st through August 6th. Please join us for our exhibit reception which will be held in conjunction with the 2015 Palmer Midsummer Garden and Art Faire on Saturday, July 11th from 10:00AM - 8:00PM (exhibit will be open from 9:00AM - 6:00PM).
**Check out our article on the exhibit from the June 18th edition of The Frontiersman "Exhibit Celebrates 100 Years of Indigenous Photography."
PMHA 2015 ART ACQUISITION - May 1 through May 31, 2015
Each year, the Palmer Museum of History and Art continues building its contemporary art collection as a means of demonstrating its commitment to support local artists and its responsibility to preserve those objects which lend historical and/or aesthetic significance to the Palmer community. In early April, the museum sends a call to artists in the area to submit artworks they would like to be considered for the Acquisition. Each piece is displayed in the May temporary exhibit to allow the public the opportunity to view them and then the winning selection is made by the Museum Board of Directors. The museum then purchases the artwork/s through the generous support of the Rasmuson Art Acquisition Fund which is administered through Museums Alaska.
EGGSTRAVAGANZA - April 1 through April 30, 2015
April is about new beginnings, rebirth. As a way to celebrate all that this entails, the Palmer Museum decided to host an exhibit that would focus on this concept by creating a visitor experience that would allow them to explore it through art. We chose the ‘egg’ as our symbol of this regeneration since the exhibit coincides with the celebration of Easter. Valley artists were invited to create an art work using the ‘egg’ as part of their media. The result is an extraordinary assemblage of work that embraces innovation, cleverness and happenstance. Please join us in celebrating Eggstravaganza through the eyes of our participating artists:
BEYOND THE CLASSROOM - March 1 through 31, 2015
The Palmer Museum of History and Art has had the pleasure of showcasing many artists in the Valley, however, like many art venues, we sometimes overlook the members of our younger artist community. We often forget that every artist has a beginning and often, their creativity begins at a young age. In support of their efforts and as a means of encouraging them to continue making the arts a part of their lives, we collaborated with several art organizations in the community to create the juried art exhibit, Beyond the Classroom. The exhibit is focused on not only showcasing the talents of our young people but also to provide them feedback on their work that can help further their development as an artist.
The art work on display was created by student artists, grades 9 through 12 that are currently enrolled in one of the following seven Valley schools: Colony High School, Glacier View School, Houston High School, Mat-Su Career Technical School, Mat-Su Central School, Palmer High School and Wasilla High School. For some of these artists, their exposure to the arts is limited within their high school curriculum since their school does not possess an art department. Yet they still find a way to create; a way to express themselves. For this reason, the exhibit is an important way to acknowledge their efforts and we commend them for their dedication, vision and persistence. Please join us in exploring the world from a new perspective and hearing the voices of the young artists in the Mat-Su Valley.
The Palmer Museum would like to thank the following groups for their support in this exhibit, which would not have been possible without them:
Blaines Art Supply
Mat-Su College Art Department
Palmer Arts Council
Valley Arts Alliance
Valley Fine Arts Association
EMPTYING OUT THE CLOSET 2015 - February 1 through 27, 2015
The Valley Arts Alliance, VAA, is a group of like-minded individuals in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of Alaska who have joined together to encourage, sponsor, facilitate and support artistic expression. They are a non-profit corporation as defined by section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, working with local libraries, schools, museums, art councils, and music and art groups to create more venues for the arts, and to help promote art related events.
Their organization provides a place for both new and established artists of all types—painters, sculptors, musicians, and those involved in the performing arts—to network and to experiment with new ideas and media. The VAA has and continues to bring art in the valley community into the spotlight through their various artist exhibits and displays in local venues, public programs, and annual community events. Perhaps the most unique and notable contribution they have made is their Wearable Art & Runway Fashion Show.
Since 2007, the Valley Arts Alliance has proudly presented their annual VAA Wearable Art & Runway Fashion Show. This event provides artists with an opportunity to share their creativity and skill with the public through the creation of wearable art. Wearable Art refers to hand crafted and one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork designed to be worn by the human body as an artistic expression. Using their knowledge of color, fabric and non-traditional materials, artists create unique, wearable garments which they (or their models) wear while parading down an authentic “fashion runway”, accompanied by narration and music.
Emptying Out The Closet is an exhibit comprised of past VAA Wearable Art entries. The Valley Arts Alliance and past participants of the show have generously loaned the Palmer Museum their outfits so that we may display them and allow the public to see the evolution of this exciting event. Every year, the VAA selects a theme to provide artists inspiration and direction in their creations. As a result, the collection ranges from the delicate to the wild. In addition, the outfits on display are just a small portion of what has been entered throughout the years.
If you would like to attend this year’s VAA “Blown Away” Runway Fashion Show, it will be held at the Palmer Depot on Saturday, February 15, 2014. There are two identical performances scheduled—a matinee performance at 3pm where children under 12 are free (and accompanied by an adult) and an evening performance at 7pm.
STITCH BY STITCH - December 1, 2014, though January 31, 2015
Can a craft be construed as art? It’s not a new question. The boundaries between craft and art have long been contested. But with the explosion of interest in craft, from Japanese bamboo baskets, and graffiti knitting to artists’connection with traditional skills and Richard Sennet’s collection of essays The Craftsman gaining interest and coverage, it seems to be the time to talk about it.
So what defines an artist or a craft maker, or even divides an artist from a craft maker? Perhaps intention makes the distinction. If a maker intends to express something perhaps that makes it art. However ,if you ask vendors at a craft fair, they often respond that it was the material they worked with that made it craft - textiles, ceramics, and glass, seem to fall into the craft category, never mind if the maker’s intention might be an artistic one. Perhaps it’s how a maker learned their skill. As an apprentice coming through a process of learning a skill, hand to hand, as it were? That’s craft. As a fully formed genius honing an expressive talent? That’s art. Perhaps it’s use. Something wearable or usable - jewelry or furniture for example - seems to fit neatly under the craft label, while something that has no clear practical purpose might be called art. However, this doesn’t take into account the decorative crafts, nor the artists who produce practical items.
What do you think? When is a maker an artist? What makes a craft an art?
In order to explore this argument of craft versus art, the Palmer Museum offered members of the Valley Quilters Guild an opportunity to display various quilts created by members of their organization. The ending result, is an amazing assortment of works that allow the viewer to explore this discussion by offering examples that can justify both arguments.
The Valley Quilters Guild was formed in 1985 to share a love of quilting. It grew into a non-profit charitable organization of approximately 200 members. They are driven by a desire to share quilting and to provide service to their community. The Guild holds quilting classes each month, and encourages sewing in schools by funding a small grant program that gives money and supplies to teachers who include a sewing unit in their curriculum. The Guild’s Service Committee sews over 200 quilts each year for a variety of charitable organizations. The list includes Alaska Pioneers & Veterans Home, Red Cross, Palmer Senior Center, Alaska Family Services, Mat-Su Services for Children & Adults, The Children’s House, Mat-Su Hospice, and many others. They have two events per month: a business meeting on the first Thursday of the month, and an open sew day on the second Saturday of the month. Both are held at the Palmer Depot in downtown Palmer. Visitors are encouraged to attend the meeting and get acquainted.
To learn more about the Guild’s activities schedule, information about meetings, classes and retreats, please visit their website at: www.valleyquiltersguild.com