Some Alaska Native art speaks of cultural heritage in a whisper; some calls out in a loud, clear voice. But on some level, all the art in the (Re)Emergence exhibition celebrates what it means to be Native today.
(Re)Emergence: Contemporary Native Art and Design from the Anchorage Museum Collection features nearly 50 art works created during the past five decades by Alaska Native artists such as James Robert Schoppert, Alvin Amason and Preston Singletary.
Many of the exhibited works explore traditional themes using contemporary mediums. Singletary chose glass to create a Tlingit hat, an object typically made from spruce root. Amason said his oil painting Agripina Day, From Two Rainbowsdepicts a beautiful morning after a fishing trip, when he saw a rainbow and two sea lions jumping.
“It’s a wonderful exhibit,” said Rebecca Lyon, an Athabascan/Alutiiq artist from Anchorage whose work is in the exhibition. “These Native artists are geniuses. They’re my heroes and I’m so proud to be among them.”
Lyon’s Women of the North series of life-size women’s regalia is fashioned from copper. “Clothing can be seen as a vessel or chalice that holds the human spirit,” Lyon said. “Clothing of metal represents strength and longevity. The use of nontraditional materials moves the visual dialogue into the present.”
Situated adjacent to the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, this contemporary art exhibition provides profound perspective on change and continuity in Alaska Native art.
“This exhibition helps visitors understand American Indians and Native Alaskans are still here, still creating,” said (Re)Emergence curator Darian LaTocha, an Alaska-born Ojibwe. “We’re not ancient history. Ours is a living, breathing culture.”