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2020 SPE Annual Conference: Hosted by The University of Houston | Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts | School of Art

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Past SPE Annual Conferences

J. Jason Lazarus

SPE Member since 2013
Member Chapter: Northwest

Skookum

Alaska. Towering glaciers, noble peaks, enchanting flora and plentiful fauna — all of these have been rendered in the idyllic perfection of a trillion photographs over the years. Captured in the silver grains and digital pixels that shape our collective memories, these representations often fall short of truly conveying what Alaska is — they fail to define what Alaska means to Alaskans.

Shaped by their surroundings, Alaskans are a curious bunch, often taking pride in character traits that, to the outsider, seem unflattering. Old timers take pride in their tenacious and stubborn nature by being called Sourdoughs, while Cheechako newcomers are harshly mocked for their failures, yet strangely encouraged to persevere. Our jargon-laden existence divides real Alaska (The Bush) from a more pedestrian lifestyle in the Lower 48 (the contiguous US). Our Breakup relates to a fifth season before Spring and Termination Dust signals the onset of winter.

Summed up in one word, Alaskans are Skookum: a Chinook-derived expression that focuses on strength, resilience, ability, bravery and significance. A product of our harsh climes, we have been shaped by our surroundings and carry with us a stoic nature that is reflected in the place we call home. For many of its people, Alaska's lonely landscapes, unwelcoming frigid tundra and tumultuous winter weather reflects its true beauty in a way no sublimely captured landscape could. This work intends to capture that deep connection and our unwavering character traits through our surroundings, showing a rarefied Alaska for Alaskans.

Survivors of the Eagle Trail Fire, Tanacross, Ak.

Ice Floe, Point Woronzof, Anchorage, Ak

Beach Layers, Cook Inlet, Kenai Peninsula

Keystone Canyon, Valdez, Ak.

Kenai Lake, Kenai Peninsula

Maze of Trees, Black Rapids, Ak.

Peek through the Ice, Liberty Falls, Ak.

Off the Elliot Highway, near Minto, Ak.

Wave of Alders, near Curry Ridge

Bonsai Remnants in the Alpine, Thompson Pass outside Valdez, ~2600 Feet.

Third Lake, Chitina, Ak.

Spring Thaw, near Trapper's Creek.

Beyond the Trees, Twelvemile Summit, ~3200 Feet.

Burdened with Frost, Dalton Highway.

Snow Drifts at Worthington Glacier.

Toward the Distant Summit Lake Shore, Richardson Highway.

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