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May 13, 2005
Burke Museum to Open New Gallery Space with Two Art Exhibits
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:
Seasons of Life and Land
Life Abounds: Arctic Native Wildlife Art
June 25 ‚Äì Dec. 31, 2005
SeattleDescribed 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 Museums newly expanded gallery space. The reopening will feature the first complete Northwest display of Banerjees 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 Artan exhibit featuring traditional and contemporary wildlife art from the Burke Museums 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 Banerjees 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, Banerjees landscapes seem epic. New York-based art critic Hilarie M. Sheets wrote in ARTnews that Banerjees 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 peoplesthe Inupiat Eskimos and Gwichin Athabascan Indians of this remote land. Banerjees interpretation of this wilderness focuses on the mutually dependent relationships between the areas land, animals, water, and Native people.
Born in Berhampore, a town near Calcutta, India in 1967, Banerjee received his bachelors 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.
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.
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