Lowlands is an exhibition of new work that reflects my relationship to a very specific place. Though specific in my mind, the lowlands of my backyard are not unlike a thousand various other swampy places throughout Interior Alaska. These are not the lands of the Alaskan tourist brochure – they are cold in the winter, wet in the summer, unmanageable for building, mosquito-filled, and visually relentless in their endless forests of stunted trees. It is not the easiest landscape to love. Luckily, I’ve never equated love with ease or perfection. I believe that in nature there is brutality, misshapenness, a degree of loneliness, and that the natural world does not bend to accommodate us. This is particularly true in the lowlands.
The basins of spruce and swamp between the mountains are places of enormous beauty. Every tree that grows on the inhospitable permafrost takes a unique shape. The muskeg is home to an infinite variety of small plant forms, grasses, berries and surprising creatures. Waterways surge with overflow even in the coldest weather, foiling travel and creating evolving ice sculptures. Over the years, I’ve seen animal life in my backyard ranging from bear to muskrat, shrew to sandhill crane. I've had the disorienting pleasure of being lost on my own land. I think it is a place that puts up with my presence, but barely. It can hinder my control in a thousand ways, which somehow seems only fair.
These lowlands are also the context for human lives, some settling here by choice and others due to economic necessity. A lack of building codes and a tradition of do-it-yourself leads to both unique and often inadequate or dangerous structures. In the lowlands, we give each other space and don’t ask too many questions of our neighbors. Between the trails and dog teams and tidy log homes are drugs and darkness, mistreatment, abandoned dreams, junkyards and guns. This place is made of all these things at the same time - beauty, difficulty, occasionally desperation. Through my work, I attempt to get beneath Alaska’s overly edited myths to try and understand the whole.
About the artist
I make art out of compulsion, curiosity, and my love of process. I learn through the act of making, and this passion for discovery is integral to who I am. The things I make often speak for me. Art allows me to be in places and with people and, hopefully, to talk across space and time. My work is an opportunity to know materials and to develop mastery.
Sara Tabbert is a printmaker and mixed media artist from Fairbanks, Alaska. With an MFA in printmaking from University of Nebraska - Lincoln, her love of woodblock printing has led to the creation of carved, painted wooden panels. In addition to smaller work, Tabbert’s large-scale public art commissions can be found throughout Alaska. Her work is housed in public collections through the state and far beyond.
February 7, 2020 - April 4, 2020
Alaska State Museum
METRO GALLERY FRAME
Type: Standard Gallery Frame
Wood & Finish: maple frames with clear water based finish
Purchasing Option: cut to size with wedges
Custom Frame Acrylic: 1/8" regular acrylic cut to size
Custom Frame mat: 4 ply white museum mat
Custom Cut Matboard: 4 ply white museum board cut to size
Custom Frame backing: acid free foamboard cut to size