DENALI: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness

by Elements Artist Group & Composers in the Wilderness

On View: July 5 – July 27, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, July 5, 5-7pm

Artist Talk: Monday, July 8, 7pm

DENALI: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness was conceived at the confluence of two languages— music and visual art. It features eighteen works of art made in response to original chamber music inspired by composers’ experiences in Denali National Park. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Elements Artist Group, six artists anchored in Alaska, and nine composers from the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival’s Composing in the Wilderness Program.
In 2017, Stephen Lias, Composing in the Wilderness Director, led nine experienced composers into the back country of Denali National Park. Each one of them composed original chamber music inspired by their wilderness experiences and shared recordings of their compositions, musical scores, ideas, and inspiration with the Elements artists. The artists worked in a variety of media including fiber art, ceramic tiles, painting, poetry, and artist books to create eighteen works of visual art, each one a personal response to a musical composition.

DENALI: Artists Respond to Music Inspired by Wilderness is evidence of the surprising results that emerge when artists collaborate. Generous support of a Community Arts Development Grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts helped fund the project along with sponsorship by The National Park Service, Alaska Geographic, Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, and Composers in the Wilderness.

To visitors of the Bear Gallery, a smart phone enables access to the music that inspired each artistic response. QR codes, posted throughout the exhibition, provide links to the music. Binders of the musical scores and program notes are also on display as part of the exhibition.

The Elements Artist Group

 has been a ceramic tile artist in Fairbanks, Alaska since 1985.  She works with scientists, artists and music composers to produce public art.  Her tile murals have been featured in numerous art shows and Percent for Art commissions for community centers, hospitals, libraries, and schools. She has degrees in art education and commercial art and has taught art in schools K through 12. She has been an Artist in Residence at Toolik Lake Field Station, an arctic research station operated by the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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 lives at the edge of Denali National Park where she has spent 32 years painting the landscapes and wildlife of Alaska. She has taught field sketching for Alaska Geographic, guided in Denali Park, and participated in the artist road permit program. Connections through the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Jazz Combo (2015) and composer, Christina Rusnak (2016) began a foray into abstract art through music. She often sketches the ‘music’ in local venues. In the past 5 years she has been in 14 group shows, 7 as the coordinator, and 4 solo shows. She was Artist in Residence in Antarctica (2015) and featured artist at the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival (2014).

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 makes wall quilts using many of her own fabrics, which are dyed, painted and/or silkscreened.  Elaborate quilting adds a rich and textural surface.  Living near Denali Park for 50 years, having been Artist in Residence in Denali National Park in 2006, and working with scientists in the In Time of Change program inform her work.  She has been accepted and won awards in many national quilt shows, and has had five solo shows.  Major commissions include a 4-panel quilt for U.S. Army, Fort Wainwright Bassett Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska, and a 4-panel quilt for Eielson Visitors Center in Denali National Park.  In 2012 she received an Interior Alaska Mayor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

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Margo-Klass-webMARGO KLASS made Fairbanks, Alaska her home in 2005. Here she creates mixed-media box constructions and artist books inspired by the unique sense of light and space in the Alaskan landscape. Influences in her work include medieval art and Japanese aesthetics. She has received awards from the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, and has been Artist in Residence in Denali National Park and on Bureau of Land Management’s Wild and Scenic Rivers. In 2015 she received the Governor’s Individual Artist Award. Her work is in the Anchorage Museum, UAF Museum of the North, Pratt Museum in Homer, and other public and private collections. Publications include Double Moon – Constructions & Conversations with texts by Frank Soos.

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 arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska thirty years ago and found home. An avid outdoor adventurer, she writes poetry and creates artist books inspired by her explorations of northern landscapes. Her work often incorporates poems and natural objects, along with traditional and nontraditional bookmaking materials to reflect her connection to the natural world. The University of Alaska Rasmuson Library Rare Books Collection houses one of her pieces. In 2017 she was an Artist in Residence in Denali National Park. Her poems have appeared in various journals and the Alaska Chamber Singers selected one of her poems for a specially commissioned score.


 has been creating textile-based artwork for over 25 years, exploring a variety of art forms, including art quilts, textile based sculpture and artist books. Her current work focuses on shapes and patterns in the natural world particularly in Alaska. She hand dyes most of her fabrics using a variety of mark making techniques. Her work is primarily hand drawn and cut, fuse appliquéd, machine stitched, machine quilted and often hand embroidered. She was Artist in Residence in Denali National Park in 2014. Her work is in public and private collections throughout the United States including in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North permanent collection.
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