Dimensional Perspectives in Nature: Tammy Holland presents BFA thesis exhibition

Sarah Manriquez / Sun Star

The hallways buzzed with excitement and smell of homemade treats near the UAF art gallery last Monday evening on Oct. 12, 2015 on opening night where Tammy Holland presented her BFA Thesis Exhibition Show: Dimensional Perspectives. Holland’s show is currently being featured in the UAF Art Gallery and consists of numerous paintings and sculptural work. Much of her work depicts iconic images of Alaska including blueberries, fireweed, indigenous birds and grizzly bears. Holland’s show is inspired by subsistence lifestyles in Alaska; not

An audience member reads an explanation of Tammy Holland's art during her opening night. - Sarah Manriquez / Sun Star

An audience member reads an explanation of Tammy Holland’s art during her opening night. – Sarah Manriquez / Sun Star

particularly fond of working with human figures she chose to use bears as her lens.

Holland grew up along the Yukon River in a village called Rampart. She drew much of her inspiration from the natural beauty around her. “I found that I was painting and sculpting things that I experienced as a child,” Holland said.

Holland’s show, Dimensional Perspectives, is about a lot more than scenery and wildlife of Alaska depicted in paintings and sculptures. Holland has a very close bond with her family. The matriarchal structure of her family is very present and maternally focused and made the decision to use bears as a voice for her work a natural one. “Don’t mess with the mama bear,” Holland said.

Many of her bear sculptures are made of rebar, reinforcement steel rods, which allows transparency inside the animal and gives the opportunity for the viewer to see what’s inside; what’s beneath the surface.

“Picking,” one of Holland’s three rebar bear sculptures, features a young cub, sitting down next to a silver bucket of bright blue glass blueberries that he has been munching on. Inside the young cub’s belly the viewer is able to see several of the berries. These playful perspectives of Alaska are present all throughout Holland’s work as well as a presence of family. “My mom and her sisters and my grandma have been huge in everything I do and when I decided to go to art school they were so supportive. They have more of my art than anybody else and I wanted to pay homage to them,” Holland said.

Holland has painted almost all her life. “When I was little I drew all the time but as soon as they gave me paints I painted all the time,” Holland said. Sculpture is a newer medium for her. Holland’s first sculpting class was at UAF only four years ago.

If not for the degree requirements for the BFA program at UAF, Holland wouldn’t have ever taken a sculpture class to begin with. “I took [sculpture] and I absolutely loved it and I had no idea I would like it so much. I love painting still too but I ended up with more sculpture classes than painting ones,” she said.

Presenting this show has been a compilation of many years of hard work. Holland had a vast amount of different pieces she included. Beyond the work she presented in the UAF art gallery, she has two hallways with paintings and wall hangings filling the glass cabinets on the wall.

“It has felt like a family effort and family accomplishment because I would have never ever been able to do this,” Holland said. “They helped me collect materials and they helped me when deadlines were approaching and my mom made all the food [for the reception] and I think it fits right in with mama bears and subsistence living…it seemed like a natural thing to make images of.”

“I think she has been working on her show for two years if not longer,” Wendy Croskrey, UAF associate professor of art, said. Croskrey has worked closely with Holland for 4 years as her mentor in sculpture. “[Holland] is one of the hardest working students I have ever had,” Croskrey said. “She is first to be here and last to leave,” Croskrey said, “She learned a lot here because she wasn’t afraid to try anything.”

Moving forward, Holland expresses an immense amount of pride and relief to have checked this box off for her degree program. She will continue to pursue First Fridays and currently has two galleries that represent her, one in Palmer, Ala and the second in Anchorage, Ala. “I haven’t run out of ideas yet and I will probably still continue to paint some Alaskacana stuff but I think I might branch out more; maybe trying people and trying figurative stuff,” Holland said.

Holland’s BFA Thesis Exhibition: Dimensional Perspectives will be featured in the UAF art gallery through Friday, Oct. 23, 2015.

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