August 21, 2014
In a rare collaboration between artist and conservator, Sitka carver Tommy Joseph is helping the Anchorage Museum preserve his own artwork.
Joseph, also known as Naal xák’w, is a Tlingit artist whose totem poles are on display from England to New Zealand. His resume includes totem pole conservation work for the National Park Service.
“When the maker of an object is involved, we have the opportunity to learn the artist’s techniques and approach the preservation from multiple viewpoints,” said Monica Shah, the Anchorage Museum’s director of collections. “The artist can drive the work and aesthetic.”
While at the Anchorage Museum in June, Joseph will help conserve a 10-foot-tall red cedar totem pole. The black, red and green carvings feature a human, a raven and the sun. Alaska grocery store owners Larry and Wilma Carr commissioned the totem pole from Joseph and installed it on their lawn in 2000. In 2012 after Wilma Carr died, the family donated a substantial gift of Alaska art to the Anchorage Museum, including this totem pole and paintings by Alaska masters such as Sydney Laurence and Fred Machetanz.
The pole is in fair condition, but after more than a dozen years of exposure to the natural elements, the artwork needs to be cleaned and stabilized. Once conservation work is complete, the totem pole will be displayed in the Anchorage Museum.
This program is supported by the Anchorage Museum and the Rasmuson Foundation Collections Management Grant, distributed by Museums Alaska.
Artist at Work: Tommy Joseph
1 to 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, June 5-7, and Monday and Tuesday, June 9-10 Observe and ask questions as Tommy Joseph does conservation work on a totem pole he carved. Included with admission
Smithsonian Spotlight: Tommy Joseph
Noon Thursday, June 5
Tlingit artist Tommy Joseph combines traditional and contemporary elements in artwork that includes totem poles, house posts, armor and masks. Join him for a talk on Tlingit battle dress and his study of anthropological collections at national and international museums. Included with admission