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  • Jeremy Pataky

Public Program | Arctic Desert: Kobuk Valley National Park

ANCHORAGE MUSEUM | I traveled to Kotzebue, Kiana, and the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes with a visual artist, curator, educator and filmmaker. We went from a photography exhibit about the dunes in the Anchorage Museum to the dunes themselves and back. Kobuk Valley National Park is known for sand dunes, caribou migration and as a research stand-in for Martian landscapes. What does it mean to be a visitor in a place like this? Members of our team presented our findings from our early-August trip during this September First Friday event, presented in conjunction with the Arctic Desert, exhibition, part of the Anchorage Museum's Polar Lab.

Curator Carolyn Kozak gave a talk about the trip, our research, and our findings; Travis Gilmour premiered the short film he made about the trip; creative responses by painter Betany Porter and I were on display, and Maggie Ewan described the experience from a science perspective and discussed research dynamics in the park. Author and photographer Seth Kantner participated and discussed his experiences growing up and living in what is now Kobuk Valley National Park.

Unfortunately, I missed the event because of the concurrent Tutka Bay Writers Retreat, but some poems in draft and an artist statement, part of my trip journal, and an erasure made from an official NPS pamphlet about the dunes were displayed in my place. Betany's paintings, sketches, and statement were also displayed. Travis's short film was screened, and well over a hundred people made it to the 4th floor gallery that night.


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