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In the Arts

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artists stalk the hunt

Trophy deer fashioned from flattened beer cans, beads, and auto parts bring wry humor to the subject of hunting this fall, when the Sun Valley Center for the Arts explores The Hunt: Ritual & Narrative. Humor is only one aspect of the project, however. In addition to a gallery exhibition including contemporary art and archival photographs of hunting in Idaho, the event will include a documentary film series, a historical lecture on the evolution of firearms, and a reading and discussion with writer Rick Bass.

Bass has received wide recognition as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Utah naturalist Terry Tempest Williams refers to him as “a force of nature.” Perhaps less well known, but equally significant, is his reputation as an environmental activist.

Working for a decade now to preserve the wildlife corridor that surrounds his home in northern Montana, he does not fit the image of the stereotypical hunter—although he has devoted essays and books to the subject, and it would be difficult to call him anything short of a hunting advocate. His profound love for the wild, for his dogs, and for the ritual of the hunt is beautifully and sometimes humorously detailed in his writing.

Part of the gallery installation—Hunting Requires Optimism, by Portland, Oregon, artist Vanessa Renwick—features a series of old refrigerators containing monitors (next to the meat drawer) that show documentary footage of a wolf on the track of an elk. The installation peers into the nature of the predator, and what it means to have a certain place in the food chain.

“We all hunt for many things,” says Jennifer Gately, curator of the exhibition. “We hunt for gold, a new house, the good life. Everyone hunts for something. It is part of being human.”

Gately emphasizes that the show neither endorses nor disparages hunting or hunters. Simply put, it poses questions. “We hope the project will encourage visitors to reconsider their roles and perceptions of the hunt as it relates to history, narrative, and nature,” Gately says.

The show opens on November 5 and continues through January 14, 2005. >>>


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