Phone: 907.793.3575 or Toll-free: 800.764.3382 |tcf@thecirifoundation.org

A Journey to What Matters

A Journey to What Matters- Culture Box: Art Kits for Youth

 Culture Box: Art Kits for Youth A Journey to What Matters Grantee: Alaska Native Heritage Center In the midst of a world pandemic, the world we knew then came to a halt and the impact was devastating to the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC). In the spirit of our Alaska Native Heritage Center Ten Universal Values, we give much respect and gratitude to The CIRI Foundation (TCF) for demonstrating similar values when it reached out to ANHC with an invitational grant for an Art Kits for Youth project.ANHC is a living cultural center that promotes active creation of art, featuring permanent collections and educational programs. Knowing that kids were out of school, and parents now found themselves in the position of having to work from home, be teachers for their kids, and make sure the kids have safe activities, ANHC did what we could immediately. Via our Facebook page, we began offering live streams/recordings of Alaska Native storytellers from all over the state, art activities like animal masks and snow visors that could be done with materials found around the house, and cooking videos. When the ANHC Team were brought together to visualize, develop and support the Art Kits for Youth project, the idea of a Culture Box was born. At its core, the Culture Box, Art Kits for Youth, is fundamentally connected to ANHC’s mission to preserve and strengthen the traditions, languages, and art of Alaska Native People through statewide collaboration, celebration and education.    The intended audience for the Culture Box project is the K-12 Alaska Native student population. Our approach to this project was inclusive of the various learning levels of those who would be enjoying and utilizing the Culture Box. And who better to have inform the work than those closest to the work, our ANHC Interns who produced more than 800 individual pieces of age appropriate art for anyone in the K-12th grade; although we did hear from parents how much they enjoyed and felt connected to being an Alaska Native through the Culture Box project and shared comments like, “This was an awesome experience!” or “Wish I had this when I was a young child.”The Culture Boxes have had a far reaching impact on the intended audience and beyond. Culture Boxes were requested from all across the state of Alaska and the lower 48. The 250 Culture Boxes were created, on time, within budget, and steeped in the philosophy of quality verse quantity. For example, in the necklace project we use real glass beads vs plastic or seal fur vs fake fur.Of those who completed the post project survey, 100% indicated they became more aware of Alaska Native art and culture; 90% indicated significant increase in knowledge and 90% of the responses indicated they were able to participate in cultural activities that otherwise would not have been available to them.On behalf of ANHC, Quyanaqpak, thank you very much for entrusting us with this exciting project. We deeply value our partnership with TCF! Downloads from Alaska Native Heritage Center
By |February 1st, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Culture Box: Art Kits for Youth
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    A Journey to What Matters- Artist in Residency at Anchorage Museum: Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn 

A Journey to What Matters- Artist in Residency at Anchorage Museum: Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn 

Artist in Residency at Anchorage Museum:  Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn  A Journey to What Matters Grantee: Anchorage Museum, Story by Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn Block and test print of Release, my project for the residency. During my month in residency with the Anchorage Museum I chose to work on one specific lino carving. It was interesting for me to have to slow down and think about my process and then step by step share that with people via social media. For the first time I did time lapse videos and other videos of the actual carve and I think it really allowed me a new way to connect with people, allowed them to see the time and effort put into a piece as well as challenged all of my areas of comfort by forcing me to open up about my work. Over all I am very happy with my experience with this residency. I think it opened me up to new ways of sharing that I will continue on and allowed me the time to take a step up in my carving process.Thank you for this. Learn more about Sarah’s artist-in-residency courtesy of Anchorage Museum in their blog and livestream. Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant Do you have a story to share? We love hearing from you!Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences. Click here to share your story!
By |January 29th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Artist in Residency at Anchorage Museum: Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn 
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    A Journey to What Matters- Protection: Adaptation and Resistance Workshops in Customary Arts

A Journey to What Matters- Protection: Adaptation and Resistance Workshops in Customary Arts

Protection: Adaptation and Resistance Workshops in Customary Arts A Journey to What Matters Grantee: Bunnell Street Arts Center, Story by Asia Freeman Energized by movements for social justice, concerned about climate change impacts on cultural survival, and sobered by the ongoing pandemic, Bunnell Street Arts Center present ed workshops by and for Indigenous Alaska artists addressing the theme of “Protection” featuring regalia, wearable art, sculpture, songs and masks. The workshops reflect Bunnell’s ongoing work to resist the colonization of Alaska and shift the conversation from how people used to live to how contemporary Indigenous art forms offer cultural protection today. The workshops were funded by The CIRI Foundation’s A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Art & Culture grant program and Alaska Community Foundation Corona Virus Relief Fund.Joel Isaak (Dena’ina, Alaska) served as the project’s Cultural Advisor. Joel Isaak’s family is from the village of Ch’aghałnikt (Point Possession) and currently lives in Soldotna, Alaska. He shared the following: “Our lifeways, material culture, and protocols serve as armor to resist efforts to exterminate us. They are rooted in the power to unite and create space for all people. When we break down the efforts of those who work to silo, segregate, and discriminate there is space for all people and all living things. In an environment that seeks to destroy the living, valuing life has become a powerful form of resistance.” Workshop DescriptionsSewing a traditional “trapper hat” of otter fur with Yup’ik artist Peter Paul Kawagaelg Williams as a way to explore Yup’ik culture and philosophy of reciprocity between human, plant, animal and spiritual worldsLower Tanana Denakenaga’ Songmaking with David Engels, who has studied this art for the past twenty years, beginning with his grandmother;Atikluk (snow shirt) Making with Bobby Itta, who loves to create customary art with a modern twist;Chilkat Weaver Lily Hope lead a cohort of Chilkat weavers in hand-twining a Chilkat Protector Mask from start to finishMarjorie Kunaq Tahbone (Inupiaq and Kiowa, Nome) taught an intergenerational workshop on how to carve naniq (seal oil lamp) using soapstone and hand tools.Due to a medical emergency, Benjamin Charles (Bethel) postponed his workshop on carving a customary Yup’ik mask, using positive and negative space to modern carving tools and wood properties. Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant Do you have a story to share? We love hearing from you!Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences. Click here to share your story!
By |January 29th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Protection: Adaptation and Resistance Workshops in Customary Arts

A Journey to What Matters- Prenatal Beaded Earring Workshop

A Journey To What Matters: Prenatal Beaded Earring Workshop  Grantee: Alaska Native Birthworkers Community, Story by Helena Jacobs The CIRI Foundation, through its A Journey to What Matters: Increased Alaska Native Art & Culture grant program, partnered with the Alaska Native Birthworkers Community to offer a prenatal beaded earring workshop for Native birthing families. We procured, assembled and distributed 30 complete kits with all the supplies needed to make two pairs of beaded earrings, and hired Gwich’in artist Rochelle Adams to prepare the supply list, instruction sheet, and teach a live workshop on November 14, 2020.We recorded the workshop and distributed it afterward to everyone who registered so folks who were not able to make this date could watch the step-by-step instructional recording and make earrings on their own. Our goal was to provide Alaska Native families with a culturally enriching opportunity while awaiting their new baby, to build community, and to celebrate our arts and cultures as Indigenous peoples. Quotes from participants on the impact of this workshop include:“It started my beading journey which I am very grateful for and helped connect me to other indigenous women which is really comforting especially in this time of social distancing. ““This gave me something new and fun to look forward to during my pregnancy and during the pandemic, while safely being at home and keeping myself busy.”“I loved learning a new skill and knowing that I can one day teach my own children.”We are now using this model to plan other similar teaching and community building virtual workshops.  Learn more about our work at www.nativebirthworkers.org. Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant Do you have a story to share? We love hearing from you!Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences. Click here to share your story!
By |January 29th, 2021|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Prenatal Beaded Earring Workshop
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    A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Traditional and Contemporary Skin Sewing with Marine Mammals

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Traditional and Contemporary Skin Sewing with Marine Mammals

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership ARTShops 2020 Traditional and Contemporary Skin Sewing with Marine Mammals Story by Raven Cunningham 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. With generous support from the ARTShop program I was able to provide education about present day threats to Alaska Native peoples, as well as traditional and contemporary ways of hunting, skinning, skin stretching, and sewing of marine mammals, specifically seal skins. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic, I was unable to host a class to teach in person, so I had to focus on personally outreaching to people who were interested. I worked with a few people within my community and within the State of Alaska sending them seal skins and teaching them how to stretch with video and written instruction. It was amazing to see these different individuals not only learn this skill, but some were able to take it and teach others through their social media platforms.  Eventually I plan to use the marine mammal skins that I processed to create a piece of art to donate to the Native Village of Eyak. I have a good majority of the project done, and will continue to work on the beading and finishing touches to the project. I plan on finishing out the project myself when I can, or if there is time where I can connect with other local artists within my Tribe to finish it together. After graduation I plan on continuing teaching the traditional ways of our people and how to practice these skills in our contemporary lives. I hope to also spread awareness of the issue of blood quantum and how it greatly affects our Native communities. Marine mammals are a crucial and essential part of Alaska Native lives. It appears that the United States government created blood quantum as a way to assimilate and terminate Native people. Blood quantum is a hidden safety net that is placed into the fabric of treaties to ensure that benefits would be terminated. The moment when tribal members are no longer Native enough based on colonial tactics that were established to assimilate is the moment Indigenous people are bred out of existence. Follow Raven Cunningham's Work Here
By |December 14th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Traditional and Contemporary Skin Sewing with Marine Mammals
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    A Journey to What Matters- 2020 Elders & Youth: Living and Loving our Cultures Workshop

A Journey to What Matters- 2020 Elders & Youth: Living and Loving our Cultures Workshop

2020 Elders & Youth: Living & Loving our Cultures WorkshopStory by: Helena Jacobs My mother, four of my children, and I were all blessed with the opportunity to participate in the first ever virtual FAI Elders & Youth Conference Living & Loving our Cultures workshops this year! My daughters and I were set up on a zoom call in our dining room doing the “Painting Our Ways of Life” workshop with Sylvia Lange (Tlingit) doing acrylic painting on canvas, my mom and son were set up on a Zoom call in our living room doing the “Cedar Bracelet Making” workshop with Debbie McLavey (Haida) and RoMay Edenshaw (Haida), and my other son was set up on a Zoom call in my office doing the “COVID-19 Mask Sewing” workshop with Mellisa Johnson (Inupiaq).Sylvia asked each virtual workshop participant to choose something we wanted to paint, and then encouraged us and answered questions throughout. She shared about mixing paints, color theory, contrast, and techniques with different brushes or materials, while showing many examples of her work. It was so fun!In reflecting on this workshop, my 7 year old said there were so many cool designs that people chose that had different patterns and colors that she felt inspired seeing what they made. She said it felt good to be able to be free to paint whatever she wanted. She had fun and loved this activity so much that she wanted to go to her grandpa’s house the next week to participate in a paint night activity led by Sugpiaq artist Sara Squartsoff online. As we were preparing our painting stations, my five year old excitedly exclaimed, “this is going to be the best day of my life!” because she was so excited to do this activity with her mom and her older sister.Enaa baasee’ to The CIRI Foundation, to First Alaskans Institute, and to all our instructors and peers for this amazing opportunity! Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant Do you have a story to share? We love hearing from you!Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences. Click here to share your story!
By |November 24th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- 2020 Elders & Youth: Living and Loving our Cultures Workshop
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    A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2020

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2020

A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2020 Parka Ruff and Trim Class 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. Bobby teaching via Zoom Graduate ARTShops 2020Parka Ruff and Trim Class: VirtuallyStory by: Bobby Itta, ARTShop Leader For my Graduate ARTShop project, I taught a two-day parka ruff and trim class using Zoom. Five students participated from Anchorage, Seldovia, and Utqiagvik. On the first day, students learned how to stretch an animal hide of their choice. On day two, I went over how to draw, cut, and sew a ruff. It was a little difficult to teach on-line, as I usually teach in a classroom and can share more details in person, but overall the class was great and I had awesome students! Being able to make clothing is an important skill for people to learn, so that they can learn to keep themselves warm and pass down their skills to their children or family. I learned from my mom, who learned from my grandmother. I am happy to be able to share what I know with others. Follow Bobby Itta's Work Here Participant Danyel Harvey with her completed ruff
By |November 20th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters and ASCA Partnership- Graduate ARTShops 2020

Journey to What Matters- Sivuqaq Parka-Making Workshops

Sivuqaq Parka-Making Workshops Grantee: Bering Strait School District, Story by Brianna (Blatchford) Wheeler Bering Strait School District was able to partner with The CIRI Foundation last fall to provide materials and resources for Qaguus Kunuka to pass on traditional knowledge about parka-making for her older students. Students and community members were excited to see skin sewing, patterns, and other technical skills that might not otherwise have been widely spread being passed to a whole new generation. This group of students worked hard and worked together, learning to use traditional materials and learning to make high-quality, beautiful, functional parkas, start to finish. When COVID hit Alaska and schools closed suddenly, many of these projects appeared to be stranded with no way to finish. However, the students were determined to work hard, learning however they could, in order to complete their work. Parents went to Qaguus with phones to film a new step their students could complete at home. The students asked questions, worked hard, and figured out how, even in a world of distance learning, to connect with their mentor and learn what they needed. On graduation day, the village held a parade for graduates and the students from Qaguus’s class proudly rode through town in sealskin-covered graduation caps and brand new parkas. The whole community celebrated their accomplishments. Alumni ・ Recipient ・ Participant Do you have a story to share? We love hearing from you!Sharing stories is an important part of Alaska Native culture and we are excited to hear about your experiences. Click here to share your story!
By |November 9th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts, Project Grant|Comments Off on Journey to What Matters- Sivuqaq Parka-Making Workshops
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    A Journey to What Matters- Anchorage Museum Virtual Artist Residencies

A Journey to What Matters- Anchorage Museum Virtual Artist Residencies

Anchorage Museum Virtual Artist ResidenciesStory by: Francesca Du Brock An example of the work by Robin Lovelace. Through the generous support of The CIRI Foundation, the Anchorage Museum was able to provide Virtual Artist Residencies to four Indigenous artists during the summer and fall of 2020. Facing the expanding crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, this project gave Museum curatorial staff the invaluable opportunity to work closely, one-on-one with artists and support their working process, rather than focusing on traditional exhibition models that emphasize product over process. We worked with the following artists, click through their names to read their features on the Anchorage Museum blog. Ethan Lauesen (Tlingit) Robin Lovelace (Tlingit) Jenny Irene Miller (Iñupiaq) Kunaq Tahbone (Iñupiaq) Each residency started in the same fashion, with an interview conducted by the Anchorage Museum Chief Curator, which was developed into a profile published on the Museum blog. These profiles provide audiences with an introduction to the artist, their background, and key motivating factors and themes in their artwork. Artists provided images and feedback on the text. Then, depending on the level of comfort with digital media, artists shared different aspects of their process a minimum of three times throughout the month – through photos and written narration, videos published on the Anchorage Museum Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as live-streamed studio demos hosted on the Anchorage Museum Facebook live page. Artists worked across a variety of media, including printmaking, carving, photography, textile, and sculpture. Examples of process sharing included etching a copper plate; casting a stainless-steel mask; cyanotype printing on fabric, and hand-crimping kammak soles.Audience engagement with this content was tremendous. Posts featuring artist work racked up hundreds of likes and many comments on social media. Livestreams were well-attended. Artists cited positive experiences in these residencies including: professional development through working with Museum staff; financial support for materials during the pandemic; exposure to new audiences; opportunities to organize personal archives; practice talking about their work; and opportunities to learn more about the Museum collection. Printmaking with Ethan Lauesen Cyanotype Test Print Time Lapse with Jenny Irene Miller Live Kammak Making Demonstration with Kunaq Tahbone
By |November 6th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey to What Matters- Anchorage Museum Virtual Artist Residencies
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    A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Tlingit Jewelry Making: Virtually

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Tlingit Jewelry Making: Virtually

A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Tlingit Jewelry Making: Virtually 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. ARTShops 2020Tlingit Jewelry Making: VirtuallyStory by: Mary Goddard If 2020 taught us anything, it was to use the tools that we have to continue on, to adapt and overcome. My first initial thoughts for teaching jewelry virtually was to avoid it, wait until COVID-19 passes, then get back to hands-on teaching. However, if I did that I would have missed the opportunity to teach jewelry making to two ready individuals. Sometimes, timing is everything.I want to start off by thanking The CIRI Foundation, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and the Alaska State Council on the Arts for creating this opportunity for me to teach. This ARTShop has really become a jumping-off point for both of the students to receive guidance and valuable tools and materials (to keep) to begin their craft. The LessonsWith the jewelry making starter kits and lessons that I put together for Josh and Jason, they were able to learn how to create copper and spruce root earrings, copper and abalone earrings, hammered pendants, and a keychain with leather and trade beads. Each of these projects had to be made from hand, start to finish by the students. They both had dentalium, extra spruce root, copper, and trade beads to experiment with. For both the students, this was their first time working with traditional materials. The chance to have hands-on experience with these traditional materials really gave them an opportunity to connect with Indigenous knowledge and begin to learn what makes the traditional materials so special and meaningful in our Tlingit culture. This was an opportunity for me to share stories about how spruce root is traditionally prepared, what dentalium was valued for, and reminding them to get to know and understand their materials and supplies when creating with them. “I loved the class, it was very easy going and fun, but at the same time I learned a lot. I think it was a perfect kick start to spark a flame to bigger and better things to come.”JoshARTShop Participant VirtualThe virtual part of the learning was not as challenging as I originally thought it would be. Due to schedule differences, I chose to offer 5 lessons with a total of 13 short videos, with corresponding lesson plans, and with follow-up weekly zoom meetings. The videos were made available and both Jason and Josh online, at their convenience. In order to finish the lesson, they each had to text or email a picture of their finished lesson project. “First, wanted to say thank you for this amazing opportunity! This class has provided a lot of opportunities and has been a definite stepping stone toward an awesome hobby and eventually a career. I’ve really enjoyed using Indigenous materials; such as copper, spruce root, abalone, etc. Gotta start somewhere and this has been the perfect opportunity to learn the basics of working with metal and its effects. The course has provided everything we need to create finished, wearable jewelry. Which is pretty neat! Mary has been a great teacher and has been there if I ever have questions. I look forward to learning as much as possible in metal art. If there is an opportunity to learn more in an advanced course, I would be super interested. Again thanks a lot for the course and doing all the legwork.”JasonARTShop Participant Social MediaTo share with others about the ARTShop project, I created 8 posts and 6 stories that I shared on both my Instagram and my Facebook page over the span of a week and a half. It was a lot of fun, as the jewelry that I created for each lesson was given away in contests.The response from my followers about classes was super positive, with at least ten others wanting to take classes virtually and learn this style of jewelry. It was really encouraging and I was really pleased with the feedback.ARTShop was really successful. Both students received a foundation in working with essentials tools and traditional materials to create jewelry from start to finish. I am confident that through the lessons and the tools that I provided through ARTShop 2020 both Jason and Josh can take their newly learned skills and have their own culturally-based business, or at the very least, hobby. Facebook Follow Mary Goddard on Facebook for more of her work.
By |November 6th, 2020|A Journey to What Matters, ARTShops, Featured Posts|Comments Off on A Journey To What Matters and ASCA Partnership- ARTShops 2020 Tlingit Jewelry Making: Virtually