(EDITOR’S NOTE: A version of this press release originally appeared on the website Res Artis, and the original press release, without local editing, can be found here, http://www.resartis.org/en/news/?id_news=509. A press release from the Sitka National Historical Park with more local events was received after this story was originally posted and it is linked at the bottom.)
In 2014, celebrations will occur across the country to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Wilderness Act of 1964, and inspire Americans about their wilderness heritage. In Alaska, the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are collaborating with an array of conservation and education organizations on a series of events across the state. A centerpiece of the celebrations is Voices of the Wilderness, a traveling art exhibit featuring works of various mediums from artists who have participated in Alaskan wilderness area residencies. This exhibit will be at Sitka National Historical Park from March 7 to April 7.
Throughout 2014, the Voices of the Wilderness exhibit will visit Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau, Fairbanks, Homer, Kenai and Anchorage. Additionally, the USFS, NPS and USF&WS have a long-standing relationship with the community exhibitors, who are eager to host this event in an effort to be community gathering places bringing diverse cultures together. The Sitka National Historical Park is managed by the NPS, featuring rich historical and cultural artifacts and information significant to the wild surrounding lands. In Ketchikan, the Tongass Historical Museum’s objective is to collect and interpret material pertaining to the history, art and culture of Southeast Alaska. The Canvas gallery in Juneau has supported previous USFS sponsored shows featuring artist residencies on Admiralty National Monument and hosts monthly gallery events featuring local Alaskan artists. In Fairbanks, the Morris Thompson Cultural Center is managed by three separate organizations (Fairbanks Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Alaska Public Lands Information Center and the Tanana Chiefs Conference), whose mission is to celebrate interior Alaska’s people, land and culture, featuring daily events, workshops and exhibits. On the Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai Visitor Center and Islands & Oceans Visitor Center provide educational resources about local issues. And in Southcentral Alaska, one of the Anchorage Museum’s missions is to collect, preserve and interpret the art of Alaska, exhibited through diverse exhibitions, such as ours.
The U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and their conservation and education partner organizations are planning 50th events during the scheduled exhibits. A First Friday reception (March 7 in Sitka) is planned at each of the seven openings and will feature speakers, artists, local media, and slideshow presentations. In addition, each month-long exhibit will provide a focal point for other community celebrations of wilderness, including a traveling wilderness film series, public forums, and evening presentations by artists, rangers, adventurers, and others.
The Voices of the Wilderness exhibit is valued by the public lands agencies and their partners as an innovative public outreach tool to connect Alaskans and their visitors to the many values of wilderness in Alaska. The lands being celebrated are critical to local economies, recreation, tourism, subsistence, cultural meaning, clean air, wildlife habitat, and much more. Voices of the Wilderness is intended to highlight these values and help connect Alaskans to their unique public estate.
The agencies and their partners view this exhibit as an opportunity to strengthen ability to provide more outreach in the future. Nationally, art and science are increasingly combined to provide education to the public on ecological and lands issues. Likewise, the hosting agencies and partners are striving to bring the exhibit and its positive message about public lands to diverse audiences and communities. The Voices of the Wilderness exhibit is sponsored by the US Forest Service, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Alaska Geographic, Sierra Club, Lynden Transport, Morris Thompson Cultural Center, Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka Conservation Society, Tongass National Historical Museum, The Canvas, the Kenai Visitor’s Center, Islands and Oceans Visitor Center and Anchorage Museum. Additionally, the exhibit was made possible with funding by Rasmuson Foundation through the Harper Arts Touring Fund, and is administered, under contract, by the Alaska State Council on the Arts.
In addition, there will be several Voices of the Wilderness artist residencies offered around Alaska this summer (June through September), including at least one in the Tongass National Forest Sitka Ranger District Wilderness Areas of South Baranof or West Chichagof-Yakobi. For more information and application, go to the Voices of the Wilderness blog.