‘Human Imprint’ opens at Tread of Pioneers Museum | SteamboatToday.com

‘Human Imprint’ opens at Tread of Pioneers Museum

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Tread of Pioneers Museum will host a public opening reception of its newest exhibit, "Human Imprint: Structures, Artifacts and Women," from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, as part of First Friday Artwalk. The exhibit will remain on display through May 31.

If you go

What: "Human Imprint: Structures, Artifacts and Women" exhibit opening
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4
Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum

The "Human Imprint" project by Sarah Gjertson, artist and associate professor of studio art at the University of Denver, explores the histories of handwork, contributions of women and the stories of artifacts from historic mining sites around Colorado. What began as peripheral fascination during backcountry camping trips ultimately led to a multiyear, grant-funded project that includes photography, sculptural objects and an extensive body of printmaking works undertaken at Steamboat's Oehme Graphics.

Through travel, research at historic archives, online digitized collections and accessing on-site cemetery records, Gjertson has uncovered some of the lesser-known histories of women and their contributions to this highly mythologized time in the American West.

"I am not interested in the 'gold rush' aspect of these sites but am compelled by the human imprint that remains there — the evidence of ingenuity, curious artifacts, skeletons of architectural structures and evidence of the hand," said Gjertson in a news release. "This lineage of the handmade is exciting to me as an artist and maker, and exploring the histories of these sites and the people who inhabited them."

Gjertson's interest grew after revisiting many of the sites over several years and bearing witness to the negative effects of reclamation efforts, investor and development schemes and restricted trail access making them further invisible, even on public lands. She considers these mining sites living museums and suggests the tug of sentimentality and nostalgia experienced in person can be palpable.

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