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May 13, 2005

Two Exhibits to Open: Life Abounds and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land

Burke Museum to Open New Gallery Space with Two Art Exhibits

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:
Seasons of Life and Land
and
Life Abounds: Arctic Native Wildlife Art

June 25 – Dec. 31, 2005

Seattle—Described by art critics as “stunningly beautiful” and “otherworldly,” the collection of large format color photography by Subhankar Banerjee will mark the reopening of the Burke Museum’s newly expanded gallery space. The reopening will feature the first complete Northwest display of Banerjee’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land.

The photographic exhibit is complemented by an equally compelling collection of art entitled Life Abounds: Arctic Native Wildlife Art—an exhibit featuring traditional and contemporary wildlife art from the Burke Museum’s renowned Native American art collection andthe private collection of John and Joyce Price. The art depicts arctic animals from the perspective of the Native people who have known, lived with, and depended upon these animals for thousands of years. This display will be on view through Sept. 5, 2005.

Included in the exhibit are traditional masks and fetishes; carvings in ivory, stone, wood, and bone; and colorful contemporary prints. Exhibited together for the first time are three versions of the well-known print The Enchanted Owl, by master artist Kenojuak Ashevak, Inuit. These prints illustrate the innovations that have characterized Inuit graphic art. Accompanying text throughout the exhibit addresses the ancient and enduring relationships between people and the animals.

The photography exhibit contains forty-nine images by Banerjee that emphasize the subtly of the region and do not romanticize the landscape. In his own words the artist states, “Employing simple compositions, the subdued light of cloudy days, and a meditative process of observation, I wanted to portray the duality of grandness and simplicity. My study is a representation of fragility and vulnerability of grand landscapes.”

The New York Times senior art critic Roberta Smith commented that “Banerjee’s large-format color images seem less controversial than stunningly beautiful.” Ingrid Sischy, editor-in-chief of Interview and former photography critic of the New Yorker wrote, “Banerjee’s landscapes seem epic.” New York-based art critic Hilarie M. Sheets wrote in ARTnews that Banerjee’s photographs are “evocative of paintings by Antoni Tapies,” a major expressionist painter of the twentieth century. And a review in Fotophile called the images, “Otherworldy vistas of vast swaths of river, tundra, mountains, and alpine meadows appearing unspoiled by any evidence of humanity...”

For two years beginning in March 2001, Banerjee traveled some 4,000 miles on foot, raft, kayak, snowmobile, and bush planes, visually recording this extraordinary area. He survived blizzards with negative-40 degree temperatures to photograph and document the yearly cycles of the arctic animals, plants, birds, water, and indigenous peoples—the Inupiat Eskimos and Gwich’in Athabascan Indians of this remote land. Banerjee’s interpretation of this wilderness focuses on the mutually dependent relationships between the area’s land, animals, water, and Native people.

Born in Berhampore, a town near Calcutta, India in 1967, Banerjee received his bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1989 before moving to the United States. He holds masters degrees in physics and computer sciences from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He worked as a scientist for six years before switching careers to become an artist. Today, he makes his home in Seattle and New York City.

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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land is a photographic exhibit by Subhankar Banerjee, designed and produced by the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California. The exhibit is sponsored by The Boeing Company, Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, The Lucky Seven Foundation, and Microsoft Corporation, with additional support from numerous organizations and community partners.

The Burke Museum is located at the corner of NE 45th St and 17th Ave NE, on the University of Washington campus. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily, and until 8 pm Thursday. Admission is $8 general, $6.50 senior, $5 student/ youth. Admission is free to children 4 and under, Burke members, UW students, faculty, and staff. Admission is free to the public on the first Thursday of each month. Call 206-543-5590 or visit www.burkemuseum,org

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