Victoria Sambunaris at the Albright-Knox

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Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape, Opens October 21, 2011

Buffalo, NY – This comprehensive, ten-year survey of the work of Victoria Sambunaris (American, born 1964) marks the artist’s first solo exhibition at a major American museum. Each year for the past twelve years, Sambunaris has crossed the United States alone with her camera to capture the vast American landscape and terrain, and its intersection with civilization. The resulting, hauntingly beautiful images reveal a sparse, seemingly limitless landscape and geology, dotted by a human imprint that is distinctly American.

The exhibition, substantially drawn from the collection of the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, includes more than thirty-five images captured by the artist with her 5x7 field camera as she traveled highways and gravel roads across the United States. Climbing mountains and often enduring extreme conditions for days, Sambunaris waited for the right light and the right moment to document contrasting geology and industry, and man’s footprint in nature. The Lannan Foundation has collected forty photographs by Sambunaris since first taking note of her work a decade ago. The exhibition will also include a comprehensive installation of ephemeral material featuring the artist’s maps, journals, and travel records, desined by art director Michael Reynolds.

Speaking about her process and her approach, Sambunaris has said, “My process begins with an unmitigated curiosity inspired by research into industry, culture, history, anthropology, geology, and ecology. I travel with an extensive library of books, maps, and reference material and have amassed an abundance of artifacts that include mineral specimens, journals, video footage, road logs, and oral histories from my journeys. My motivation to traverse the American landscape is the attempt to reveal the layers of a place. I resist approaching a landscape strictly as an expanse of scenery but view it as an anomaly with an abundance of information to be discovered.”

Exhibition co-curator Holly E. Hughes notes, “Sambunaris’s work reflects the eye and hand of a modern-day explorer-turned-artist. Taking her time to survey the landscape and familiarize herself with her surroundings, she reveals in her work the complexity of the United States’ topography and geology, and its panoramic beauty—a beauty that has gotten lost in the shadow of progress and industrialization.”

Also on view:

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Full Color Depression: First Kodachromes from America’s Heartland, will present thirty-five iconic images of American life from the late 1930s to the early 1940s, selected from the Library of Congress’ Farm Security Administration photography collection. Organized by Bruce Jackson (SUNY Distinguished Professor and James Agee Professor of American Culture, University at Buffalo) with Albright-Knox Curator for the Collection Holly E. Hughes, the exhibition includes the work of a group of photographers that has been credited with the development of documentary photography, and that was among the first to work with color film.

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