Wild Creatures of the Boreal Forest
The natural world is the primary motivation for my art. The boreal forest and its critters have been an inspiration for the vast majority of my artwork for more than the past four decades. These creations are the concrete result of my ideas, experiences and research of the forest environment. The ITOC experience with its various experts offered incredibly rich and diverse insights into the realms of the boreal forest, from the microbial worlds to the passage of time and succession of organisms in the boreal biomes. My interests over the years have mostly focused on the forest, its wildlife and our human interactions in this world.
My images appear direct and simple, yet I draw from many formal ideas and material concepts when creating these works. I want the viewer to consider the animals that live within environs near where we live here in Interior Alaska. Climate change was a powerful and impactful component in all topics discussed in the ITOC lectures and presentations. The human impacts imposed on our planet create a serious challenge to the continued existence of all lives.
To help me formulate some of my ideas I met with Knut Keilland, Professor and Chair of the UAF Wildlife Biology Program, to discuss our mutual and varying perspectives of many of the animals of the boreal forest. His insights and knowledge on the relationships of human activities and animal behavior continue to encourage me in the formation of my work. Professor Keilland’s stories of his work with lynx are captivating and particularly inspirational.
Many of my works are portraits of fellow beings on our planet. I make drawings, paintings, prints and cutouts that reflect my ideas of animals and landscapes idealized and simplified from the complexities of the natural world amid the paradoxes and pressures of the human realm. I see many similarities, contrasts and ambiguities between our human-made world and the natural one. I am attracted to the life and beauty of wildlife as beings and symbols of another essential aspect of our sphere, one from which we are drifting further and further away with each subsequent generation.
Todd Sherman, born in the territory of Alaska, is an Emeritus Dean of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) and Emeritus Professor of Art. He taught printmaking and other art classes for the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Art Department and served as CLA’s Dean from 2012 to 2020. He received a BA in Art from UAF and an MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. His artwork has been shown in over 40 solo shows and well over 100 group exhibitions since 1977. His work is in private and public collections in Alaska, the U.S.A., Spain and Thailand.