Elizabeth van Lent is an illustrator and writer from Fairbanks, Alaska. In her work, van Lent uses themes of nature, magic, and myth to create visual and written narratives from both her physical environment and imagined world.
For her inaugural art exhibition, Nutrients, van Lent manipulates Sumi ink with pen or paintbrush to create complex images rooted in natural science and warped with a touch of imagination. Her illustrations are observation based. She collects inspiration from the changing of the seasons, summers spent dip net fishing for salmon in Kenai, and a slight obsession with the edible fungi varieties available in Alaska. Through the show, she explores the relationship between Alaskans and their food, their culture, their identity.
In May 2017, van Lent graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving a Bachelor in Fine Art with an Emphasis in Writing. In her free time, van Lent enjoys reading, going on long hikes, and traveling. She is an exhibiting artist in Alaska Photographic Center’s 2018 Rarefied Light exhibition, and has been published in Cirque and Alaska Women Speak.
The van Lents
In the year 1640, the Dutch sailed from Amsterdam and arrived in New Amsterdam (New York). It was an accidental beaching of a Dutch vessel on a sandbar at high tide that resulted in a friendship between the Dutch and the Delaware or Lenape natives on land they called "Sachoes."
From The History of the Lent (van Lent) Family, Nelson Burton Lent writes:
"The Dutch soon learned the [native] language and the settlement increased. The [indigenous people] proposed to sell the Dutch a tract of land especially for the use of the settlement, and July 10, 1641, a council was held and the chiefs of other clans united and an agreement was made and the boundary of the land designated. It lay east of Annsville Creek, taking the land east and south of where Peekskill is located. April, 1643, the Dutch paid for their land in goods as follows: 8 guns, 9 blankets, 5 coats, 14 fathoms of daffel cloth, 14 kettles, 40 fathoms of black cloth, 40 fathoms of white wampum cloth, 2 anchors of rum, 5 half vats of strong beer, 6 earthen jugs, 12 shirts, 50 pounds of powder, 30 bars of lead, 18 hatchets, 18 hoes, 14 knives, 1 small coat, 6 fathoms of strong water cloth, 6 pairs of stockings, and 6 tobacco boxes. For the above, the [natives] sold them seven thousand two hundred acres of land, and on this land, the Dutch lived in peace and harmony with the [original people]" (7).
"Van" is Dutch, meaning “from”, and Lent was a town in the Holland. A one Richard Abrahamson took the name of "van Lent," 1,800 acres of the newly traded land, and unknowingly began one of the most widely dispersed families in the United States.
So many centuries later, the 1,800 acres of van Lent land has been broken in pieces, sold, renamed and ultimately lost. Also lost, is the name Abrahamson adopted, as all of the van Lents have since removed the "van" from their name.
The inherited history of names has the potential to reveal other worlds that have long been forgotten. By reclaiming her historical name, Elizabeth van Lent chooses to carry with her the mysterious stories, the hidden truths, and the mythologies of her Dutch heritage.