Sara Tabbert – Signs of Life
Certainly I am but one of many artists whose lives were completely rearranged by the ongoing pandemic. Of all the things that were supposed to happen in the last 12 months, this exhibit at Bunnell is the only event on my calendar that wasn’t postponed or canceled.
This collection of recent work reflects my continued interest in the less celebrated landscapes of Alaska — what we do in them and what we (as well as what our animal and insect neighbors) leave behind. I’m fascinated by makeshift dwellings and other structures in nature and I live in a place where these sights are commonplace. In looking over my recent work, I see that sometimes my viewpoint expresses frustration with junk and disarray and carelessness. Other times I am entertained by the absurdity of what I find. And, though it seems to contradict aspects of my concerns and values, I am often purely delighted by the small shed, the junked car, the strange minor leavings and forgotten evidence of humans on the landscape. Many of these artifacts disappear behind foliage in the summer or snow in the winter, only to emerge briefly in the uncovered months of May and October. Some will never be seen again, due to collapse, collection, or removal, and I always feel a loss when they have lived out their lifespan. These unremarkable signs of life are surprisingly important to my mental map of the landscape.
In this time of pandemic, it has been hard for me to make work in the usual way. I have often felt stalled, confused, and distracted. It has been incredibly difficult to concentrate lately, and often my only way forward was through play or by self-mandating discipline that I “just make something.” These small vessels and pieces of pattern-based nature have been ways to keep my hands busy during long periods of unknown, while also pointing in possible new directions. They are assembled and reworked, allowed to accrete and choose their own path. For me, embracing the intuitive along with the planned is another sign of life.
Online artist talk and exhibit opening, March 5 @ 6pm.