A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership
2022 Graduate ARTShop Lena Amason in Kodiak
Graphic Arts as Intergenerational Process

The ARTShops program is a collaboration between the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation and The CIRI Foundation’s A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Arts and Culture grant program. Established in 2016, ARTShops support emerging Alaska Native arts leaders to develop their skills in leading community-based arts programs.

During my Graduate ARTShop project my family focused on studying local imagery and translating it into graphic arts as an intergenerational process. We played with design work around familiar imagery such as octopus, fox, salmon and birds and spent time outdoors drawing and then translating what we saw using iPad drawing tool. Time spent drawing every day, brought us a new focus and energy…. soon 20 minutes became an hour. Learning how to use a new drawing tool was fun and exciting. Sharing drawings and ideas, lead to exploring new materials.

Drawing has been a crucial form of communication for the people of Kodiak Island for thousands of years. Historically, the Alutiiq people of Kodiak have lived a subsistence lifestyle, harvesting and hunting off the land and sea for survival. This practice required drawing as an important method of communication for survival. It is a traditional art form that was used to relay subsistence knowledge about local hunting and fishing areas. Specific markings and designs were used on hunting and fishing tools, to signify and identify ownership of a certain hunter, family, or community of people. Out of respect for the fish and animals, and as a way of spiritually connecting with them; Alutiiq people created clothing, spiritual objects, jewelry, and hunting tools that were representative of the creatures they sought after for nourishment. Drawing has played an important role in carrying forth information about what was important to the indigenous people of Kodiak Island thousands of years ago. This ARTShop project continues this practice.