Alaska and Norway: A Very Northern Collaboration

October 24, 2019

By: ArtPlace America

Did you know that our colleagues over at the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking have a great podcast? It’s called CreativePlace and it’s a series of interviews with people who are making a difference in their communities through the arts, cultural programming and creative processes. 

This episode is a conversation with Julie Decker, Director and CEO of the Anchorage Museum in Alaska and Bodil Kjelstrup, who is serving as curator of the SEED Lab. Kjelstrup is from the Northern Norway Art Museum, and the two met at a conference on the arts in the circumpolar north several years ago. They talk about climate change, equity in indigenous communities, do-it-yourself culture and shifting narratives to empower local communities.  

Hear how the Anchorage Museum in Alaska has partnered with the Northern Norway Art Museum to address some of the challenges that are unique to Northern places. The museum is exploring equitable community solutions through its new Solutions for Energy and Equitable Design Lab (SEED Lab). The City partnered with the Anchorage Museum to turn a neglected downtown building in the city's growing design district into a vibrant and vital cultural center. SEED Lab seeks to build collaborations between artists, designers, engineers, and community members to draw attention to climate change and incubate solutions. Resulting projects will be prototyped with extensive community engagement.

“We SEED because we want to grow local solutions to global problems like climate change,” said Mayor Berkowitz. “We SEED because harnessing the artistic talents and creativity within the Anchorage community can have worldwide impact. We are grateful to be selected as a Bloomberg 2018 Public Art Challenge winner—this project gives us the opportunity to act on pressing issues in a uniquely meaningful way.” Bloomberg Philanthropies had invited mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for temporary public art projects that address important civic issues, and demonstrate an ability to generate public-private collaborations, celebrate creativity and urban identity, and strengthen local economies.

More than 200 cities applied and Anchorage was one of the deserving winners.

“We strongly believe in the power of this project to transform the idea of what public art can do to enhance and strengthen a community,” said Julie Decker “We are thrilled to work with the Mayor and community members to bring this to life over the next two years.”

SEED Lab brings creative practitioners, civic leaders, and community changemakers together to address the challenges of living in the North and to propose and envision positive futures.

SEED Lab is one of five winners of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. The Municipality of Anchorage is a partner with the Anchorage Museum to create public art that explores pressing social issues.

Listen to the episode

Follow SEED on Instagram @seedlabanchorage

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Join us at the upcoming Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit | National in Phoenix, AZ (Nov 14-16).