October 5, 2018- May 12, 2019
Perhaps no creatures better reflect the climate, landscape and culture of Alaska and the Arctic than the walrus and polar bear. Power and vulnerability coexist within these giants living in a massive Arctic – a distinct region known for its own striking contrasts. They are animals nearly without equal in size and strength. Yet perhaps their greatest strength – and weakness – comes from the ability to adapt to a changing world and a warming climate. Their lives have entwined with humans for centuries. To the first peoples of the Arctic and sub-Arctic, walrus (aiviq) and polar bear (nanuq) each have been predator, co-habitant, sustenance and spiritual ally. To generations of artists and culture-bearers, these remarkable creatures are both material and muse. They have been revered for centuries, studied by scientists, commodified by pop culture and manipulated by politicians. Through the lens of artists and artworks from Alaska and around the world, this 8,000-square-foot exhibition at the Anchorage Museum explores the ways these iconic animals offer important insight into the culture of the North and its complex future.