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Prairie Poetics 
 Anne Skaug + Katie BH Wolff

“Rooted in found kinship, shared geography, and uncanny origins, Prairie Poetics (2023) is a two-person show featuring the work of Anne Skaug and Katie B. H. Wolff. Through concrete, fibers, photographs, and found objects, portals are created: memories embedded in cloth, a landscape transcending time, and every absence a presence.


This installation is a material reflection of the innumerable conversations between Skaug and Wolff contemplating experiences that meet and diverge. Each work exists within an unfolding archive of the topographies of grief, the incarnation of internal landscapes, and a longing to hold with tenderness the tension of one’s inheritance.”

I lay on the earth to remember the touch of your skin is a collaborative piece created by my dear friend, Katie B. H. Wolff, and myself. We share origins in the Great Plains of South Dakota, where both of our families immigrated from Norway in the nineteenth century. The prairie grass was harvested from our familial farms and transported to Chicago for artmaking. Katie has written some about the piece, calling the text to hold the tension of one’s inheritance with tenderness. It is both an acknowledgement of the people who came before us, and a brief explanation as to our own connections to the land. Screenprinted on the concrete blocks are the names of the native peoples of the Dakota Territory, our ancestors, and our deceased parents. The text is as follows: The referenced landscape of this exhibition is the prairie along the borders of what is today known as North Dakota and South Dakota and previously as part of what was Dakota Territory. These lands are indigenous to the Očhéthi Šakówin, People of the Seven Council Fires, the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people as well as the Cheyenne. We acknowledge that the history of this land dates back milenia before our white settler ancestors arrived and displaced thousands of indigenous people as part of a government sanctioned genocide and white supremacy project. As the descendants of settlers, we are aware of this history and our being tethered to it, though attempts at its erasure are pervasive and unrelenting. It is our responsibility to learn and understand this land’s history through indigenous scholarship and perspectives as we continue our creative research and studio practices. We recognize our complicated relationship to this landscape, and that our existence is only possible because of the violence that came before us. Our shared geography of this prairie plays a central role in our work and is in direct relationship to our parallel losses of a parent in childhood and adolescence. Layers of grief shroud this landscape, and each is felt deeply. We understand our work as a material poetics attempting to hold the tension that exists in the fine line of a chasm situated between grief and joy. This landscape both carries the history of the most painful experiences of our lives and, in the truest nature that is paradox, brings the deepest sense of safety, offering a physical closeness to our lost parents that exists nowhere else. To inherit is to receive, to derive, to be left with. This work sits as an attempt to look at our inheritance–with all of its contradictions–and hold it with tenderness

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