Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum
Enduring Connections: Contemporary Alaskan Yup'ik and Iñupiat Art
March 8, 2018 - December 22, 2018
Arctic Museum main galleries
Julian Iya, Walrus. Anchorage, ca. 2006. Fossil ivory, walrus bone. The Marcia and Robert Ellis Collection. Photograph by Dean Abramson.

Contemporary Alaskan art has its roots in both Indigenous cultural traditions and the dramatic changes Alaskan society has experienced beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Enduring Connections features some nineteenth century pieces to provide context for the contemporary art. They include rare pencil drawings by Iñupiat hunters from Cape Prince of Wales and an ivory tobacco pipe carved for the growing tourist market.

Artists today often use the same materials as those employed by their ancestors and address many of the same themes. Highlights include spectacular baskets woven from grass and baleen, and wood, whale bone, and caribou skin masks. Some works, such as the baleen baskets and caribou skin masks, are innovations developed in the twentieth century. Others, such as intricate ivory carvings featuring animals and a stunning wooden puffin mask, have direct links to traditional works. Dramatic ivory and whale bone sculptures by two of Alaska’s best known contemporary artists with two distinctly different approaches, Ron “Qay” Apangalook and Susie Silook, round out the exhibit. 

The exhibit features many recently acquired works. Funded by the Russell and Janet Doubleday Endowment.

Join us on the opening night of the exhibit for a lecture given by Susie Silook, a Yupik/Iñupiat sculptor and writer. The lecture, Yupik and Iñupiat Art and Activism in Contemporary Alaska, will be at 7:00 PM in Kresge Auditorium.

Susie Silook, Healing Wings. Ivory, wood, pigment, turquoise, and brass. On loan, Home and Away Gallery. Photo by Luc Demers.
Rose Kanrilak, I'm Ready. Sealskin, fabric, and fish skin.  Museum purchase. Photograph by Luc Demers.

Peter Smith, Puffin Mask. Wood and pigment. Purchased in memory of Meredith B. Jones. Photograph by Luc Demers.
Ron 'Qay' Apangalook, Walrus Shaman. Ivory. Museum purchase. Photograph by Luc Demers.