Fairbanks artist tackles homelessness in the Alaskan interior

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Often, it is said that art is a mirror that is held up to society. However, this aphorism may be a little too prosaic for Fairbanks artist Sarah Manriquez.

Sarah Manriquez is a Fairbanks artists using her artistic platform to affect change in the homeless community in the Alaskan interior. (Sarah Manriquez)

Manriquez is a photographer who is getting ready to exhibit her latest projects at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in Anchorage in December. She will then bring the show to Fairbanks in February. Complications with the closure of Pioneer Park’s civic center have made it uncertain where the Fairbanks exhibition will take place, however.

Manriquez, whose work spans various media, is now using her art in hopes of affecting change within her community. Specifically, Manriquez believes that the problem of homelessness within the Alaskan interior is particularly worth lending her attention. “Alaska is unique that it has some exceptional challenges for homeless people and our homeless populations,” said Manriquez. She elaborates that the remoteness of some Alaskan communities in the interior exacerbates the problems experienced by those affected by homelessness.

When asked about her goals for the project, Manriquez’s response is multi-faceted. She hopes to advocate on behalf of the homeless community of the interior, and generate interest in ameliorating the conditions that lead to homelessness. Besides this, she hopes to raise money during her exhibition by selling pieces of an installation during the exhibition. The proceeds from these sales will go to organizations Manriquez is working with, including The Door, Stone Soup, the Fairbanks Community Foodbank, the Fairbanks Native Association Street Outreach and Advocacy Program, and the Fairbanks Housing and Homeless Coalition.

Homelessness is an issue that hits particularly close to home for Manriquez, who was homeless for a period of her teenage years. She hopes to generate empathy in visitors to her exhibition for the homeless community of the Alaskan interior. Regarding the people who come to see her art, Manriquez said, “I want them to start viewing themselves as the solution.”

The exhibition will feature three different projects, each of them lending a different perspective on homelessness in the Alaskan interior.

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