Temporary exhibit opens at the history museum

Kodiak artist Sara Loewen and Natasha Zahn Pristas

The Kodiak History Museum launched a new exhibit Tuesday titled “Home and Away.”

The temporary exhibit, which will be on display until March 2020, is a collaborative visual and literary art project by Kodiak artists Sara Loewen and Natasha Zahn Pristas, according to a news release.

“‘Home and Away’ started as an idea between two friends who sometimes wish for more of that sun-drenched elsewhere and the creative inspiration that traveling brings,” Loewen stated in the news release. “Maybe creating art, whether written or visual, is a way of seeing with new eyes, a way of paying closer attention and appreciating the beauty around us, reminding us of all that we love coming home to.”

The exhibit features watercolor artworks by Zahn Pristas paired with writings from Loewen. They explore what makes Kodiak home through deeply touching details and laughable moments, bringing together all Kodiakans as we settle for winter, the release states.

Loewen began writing vignettes for the display while spending the summer with her family in Ugak Bay. While she had limited internet access in the remote location, she was able to communicate by email with Zahn Pristas, who sent photos of her work.

When Loewen returned to Kodiak, the two artists shared their work, finding common themes.

“It was actually really exciting how they overlapped, sometimes unintentionally,” Loewen said. 

The themes of the exhibit — home and away — represent the artists’ connection to Kodiak, along with their love of travel.

“Traveling can inspire creativity,” Loewen said. “This was good because it inspired us without having to leave Kodiak.”

Zahn Pristas said she had the idea of creating art around the theme of home and away even before she began working on this exhibit.

“For many of us, we love escaping Kodiak, and we also love coming back to fresh air and fresh water,” she said. “There are certainly months of the year when we can laugh about wishing to be away. To keep our sanity, we have to leave and then come back.”

Both artists are native to the island, but spent time living and traveling away from Kodiak. 

Loewen was born in Old Harbor and met her husband in Kodiak. They moved away and  returned to the island with their children 12 years ago. Zahn Pristas was born in Kodiak and raised in Juneau. After living overseas, she returned to Kodiak 18 years ago.

This is the first time Loewen’s writing has been featured by one of Kodiak’s museums. Zahn Pristas’ work is already in the Kodiak History Museum collection.

The idea for the collaborative exhibit first emerged in May and was initially intended for First Friday, a one-day event held on the first Friday of every month. After the success of the initial event, the artwork was installed in the museum’s redesigned exhibit space, which is intended to display rotating projects, issues and ideas from the Kodiak community. 

Zahn Pristas has participated in First Friday events before, but she said her show with Loewen was special.

“It was definitely a stronger show, because we had a combination of visual art and the written word,” she said. She has participated in group shows in the past, but this is her first collaborative show.

The museum will provide materials for visitors to participate in an interactive component of the exhibit, by creating writings or drawings to take home or display in the museum. Visitors can take inspiration from the exhibit as the artists took inspiration from each other.



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