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Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape Opens October 21

September 20, 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.

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.” 

Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1964, Victoria Sambunaris earned her BA from Mount Vernon College in 1986 and her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 1999. Her work has been widely exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States; however, her exhibition at the Albright-Knox marks her first solo museum exhibition. Her work is included in numerous collections throughout the United States, including those of the Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Sambunaris has participated in the Ucross Foundation Residency Program in Wyoming (2010), as well as the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s Wendover Residence Program in Nevada (2004), and has been awarded a Lannan Foundation Fellowship (2002) and a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant (2000). She has held numerous teaching positions, and currently lives and works wherever her intuition takes her.

This exhibition is organized by Christie Mazuera Davis, Program Director, Contemporary Art and Public Programs, Lannan Foundation, and Albright-Knox Curator for the Collection Holly E. Hughes. It is presented in collaboration with Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and supported, in part, by Roberta and Michael Joseph.

A special Albright-Knox Members’ preview of the exhibition will be held from 5 pm until 7 pm on Thursday, October 20.  Victoria Sambunaris: Taxonomy of a Landscape will remain on view until January 22, 2012.