Wandering Bear Gallery exhibits photos taken by Fairbanks’ homeless population as well as spine-tingling sculptures

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Fairbanks Arts Association held its second First Friday event of 2020 with artists Sarah Manriquez and Anvil Catlin Williamson exhibiting their work at FAA’s Wandering Bear Gallery.

"Through Our Eyes" and "Pressed" will be featured at the Wandering Bear Gallery located at 3501 Lathrop St. throughout the month of February. (Ramzi Abou Ghalioum/KTVF)

Manriquez, who showed her work in Anchorage last month, is facilitating an Alaska chapter of a nationwide photography project called “Through Our Eyes”.

The project puts disposable cameras in the hands of homeless members of a community who shoot a roll of film. Manriquez then collects the cameras and sends the film for development.

The exhibition takes a handful of photographs from the project and puts them up on display.

“Often when people are disenfranchised, they don’t ever have the opportunity to tell their own story,” Manriquez explains about the project. “Stories are constantly being told about them, news stories are constantly being made about them. They don’t get to say, ‘This is what I think. This is what I want. This is what I like.’”

Manriquez explains that “Through Our Eyes” is an opportunity for the homeless population of Fairbanks to share their own stories through a visual storytelling medium. It’s also a chance to reach out.

“I think oftentimes, the homeless in particular, get a lot of messages that are ‘you’re not welcome here,’” Manriquez says. “And so, it’s important to re-engage with people and say, ‘No you are. You’re welcome here, you’re a part of my community, you’re loved, and you matter, and I want to hear from you.’”

On the other side of the gallery, Anvil Catlin Williamson’s ceramics exhibition, “Pressed” articulates a more internal struggle – age-old, between an artist and themselves.

“’Pressed’ is about the conflict between wanting to have control over something in your life, or surrendering to it,” Williamson says, “And so most of these pieces are in a state of making that decision: whether or not they’re going to take control of this thing, or they’re going to let it go and surrender to it. So ‘Pressed’ is about being kind of under pressure.”

On the gallery floor, a giant praying mantis perhaps best exemplifies the exhibition’s theme. Bulbous, globular eyes glare out at the audience with an expression which almost looks pleading. The insect is on its back, its spiked forelegs pushing against a piece of wood which seems to be slowly flattening it.

Williamson says that all of her work is very personal to her. “I’m a person who struggles with anxiety and I always feel like there’s a pressure,” Williamson says candidly.

“I was trained in drawing,” she recalls, “but I struggled with making my drawings more three-dimensional.” She says that her mentors then encouraged her to take up sculpting. Williamson took them up on their advice, and hasn’t looked back.

Sarah Manriquez, and the creator of the nationwide "Through Our Eyes" project, Jason Williamson, will be giving a talk at the Wandering Bear Gallery at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 10.

Anvil Williamson will be exhibiting new work at Homer’s Bunnell Street Arts Center in August.

“Pressed” and “Through Our Eyes” will be up at the Wandering Bear Gallery all month.

More information can be found at the Fairbanks Arts Association website.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.