Friends ofSheldon Jackson Museum
artists visit museum for collections study
We have a busy summer to look forward to at the Shel-don Jackson Museum. This season the museum will host a series of visits from artists around the state who will study our collections and participate in public programs such as artist lectures and demonstrations. This years summer artist programs are made possible though generous support from the Smithsonian Na-tional Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the Alaska Humanities Forum and donations from our mu-seum membership.
The visiting artist program funded by the NMAI is a pilot program organized with Keevin Lewis, NMAI programs coordinator. As part of the program, a group of six artists will spend three or four days at the mu-seum working with collections, and sharing their work with the public and museum staff. At the completion of the visit to Sitka, artists will share what they gained from the experience through workshops held in the art-ists home communities. Participating artists include Tlingit carver Tommy Joseph (Sitka), Aleut bentwood hat artist Patty Lekanoff-Gregory (Unalaska), Yupik/Athabascan conceptual artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Anchorage), Inupiaq carver Othniel Art Oomittuk (Point Hope), Tlingit weaver Jennie Wheeler (Yakutat) and Yupik skin artist sewer and doll maker Marlene Nielson (Kokhanok).
Another three artists, Coral Chernoff (Alutiiq), Lalla Williams (Alutiiq), and Audrey Armstrong (Athabas-can), are coming to the museum through an Alaska Humanities Forum grant titled Documenting Art Technologies: Connecting Alaska Native Artists and our museum collections. These artists will focus their time at the museum sharing their knowledge of gut and fishskin processing and sewing. As part of these artists visits, the museum will host a fish skin basketry work-shop led by Armstrong (see article in the Newsletter on page 4), and a sinew spinning workshop led by Coral Chernoff.
Volume 24, Issue 1We are pleased to continue our collaboration with the Sitka Fine Arts Camp this summer by sharing expenses for one faculty member to join SFAC as an instructor in Native Arts this June. This years instructor is Se-lina Alexander who is a textile artist and bead worker. While she is in Sitka, Selina will also demonstrate her work in the Sheldon Jackson Museum gallery. Other artist demonstrators who will share their work in our gallery this summer include Abel Ryan (Tsimshian), Cass Pook (Tlingit), Sarah Williams (Athabascan), and Peter Paul Williams (Aleut).
We hope you will stop by our museum this summer to see our collections, meet visiting artists and partici-pate in a workshop. Thank you for supporting of our museum!
Newsletter Summer 2012
Sinew WorkshopThursday May 9th: Time & Place TBD
Fish Skin WorkshopJuly 19th-20th
Audrey ArmstrongRegistration is required
Childrens Corner!Bring your children to the museum. We now have a few drawers dedicated to children. Its hands on! Kids are welcome to grab a cushion and read some books or play with the Alaska
Native inspired toys.
Please check out our online calendar at www.friendsofsjm.com
Alaska Native Artist Development Workshop OfferedThe Sheldon Jackson Museum will host an artists business development workshop led by the Alaska State Council on the Arts on June 4th from 9 AM-4 PM. During this workshop artists will have a chance to learn about opportunities to exhibit their work in the State of Alaska, gain tips on writing grant applications and
finding grants and fellowships for artists, learn about resources available for Alaskan artists, and develop marketing strategies for working with galleries or selling artwork over the internet. This workshop is offered free of change with the support of the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Smithsonian Institutions
National Museum of the American Indian. Pre-registration is required. Please contact the Sheldon Jackson Museum for more information and to register at 907.747.8981
New Museum Gallery Labels on the Way
Labels throughout the Sheldon Jackson Museum gal-lery identify museum artifacts by cultural affiliation when known. The labels in the Sheldon Jackson Museum gal-lery are currently undergoing some changes. We are slowly working through the process of replacing the word Eski-mo with the terms Iupiaq, and Yupik to more accu-rately identify cultural affiliations when known. Both these terms derive from a root word that translates roughly to person (the root words yuk, and inu create the words Yupik, and Iupiaq).
Although the word Eskimo is used by many Alaska Na-tive people, we have chosen to remove this word from our gallery because some individuals find that the term has a de-rogatory connotation. Although the etymology of the word Eskimo is not clear, one of the many possible origins for the word is a translation of an Algonquian term meaning eater of raw meat (other possibilities for the word ori-gin include a translation of an Ojibwa term meaning to net
snowshoes, and a translation of the French word Excom-minquois the Excommunicated ones). Additionally, be-cause Eskimo is a term that was applied to some Alaska Native people after contact with foreign visitors, it does not reflect indigenous language use.
Along with the changes noted above, we are also up-dating labels to identify and honor the names of artists who are represented within the collection when known. Some of the recognized artists in our museum collection include Haida artist Charles Edenshaw (1839-1920), St. Lawrence Island Yupik carver Moses Soonogrook (dates unknown but active during the 1920s and 1930s), Tlingit silversmith and carver Rudolph Walton (1867-1951), Hai-da carver John Wallace (born around 1861-1951), Tlingit master carver Kadjis.du.axtc (dates unknown but active in the late 18th and early 19th century) , Tlingit weaver Jennie Thlunaut (1892-1986), and Iupiat basket weaver Kinguktuk (1871-1941). Stop by and the museum and tell us what you think of our new labels.
Meet our Board Members~
President: Mary BooseVice President: Margie Esquiro
Treasurer: Bonnie BrennerSecretary: Cass PookAt Large: J. Bradley
At Large: Alice SmithAt Large: Sandy Fontaine
Meet our Staff~
Curator: Nadia JackinskySecurity & Visitors Services:
Lisa BykonenPeter Gorman
Seasonal Staff~Beth GarrisonDebbie Doland
Friends Business Manager~ Mary Wheeler
Amy Chan with Alaska State Museum Curator of Collections, Steve Henrikson
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Ivory Drill Bows Animate Stories of Carving and Collecting in Northwest AlaskaAmy Chan
During the 19th cen-tury, pictorially en-graved drill bows formed part of a nearly ubiquitous tool com-plex used throughout the Bering Strait. In lieu of a writ-ten language, carvers record-ed their personal experiences and cultural understandings on drill bows which feature umiat pursuing whales, hunt-ers tracking caribou and seal, village activities such as hanging up salmon and pick-ing berries, warfare, festivals, athletic events, mythological creatures and Euro-American interactions. Cultural knowledge and oral histories embed-ded within the engravings carry valuable information on environmental and socio-cultural relationships that remain important to Alaska Native communities.
In March I enjoyed the opportunity to work with drill bows and other engraved ivories in the Sheldon Jackson Museum and Alaska State Museum.
The SJM cares for 10 engraved drill bows. One ivory bow (SJ-II-P-13) collected by Sheldon Jackson, probably in the early 1890s, features two sides engraved with kayakers hunting rows of geese with bird spears. The long ivory bow is ac-companied by a wooden mouthpiece, drill and hearth pro-viding unique insight into the tool preferences of a particu-
lar carver. After research among the collections, I gave an presentation on drill bows and carving stories as part of the Museums Winter Lecture Series. Lively discussion followed the talk and attendees enjoyed the opportunity to closely examine engraved ivories on a collections cart.
Following my time in Sitka, I worked with engraved ivories at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau. The Museums collection includes 22 en-graved drill bows. An ivory bow (II-A-9) acquired by Dr. Daniel S. Neuman appears to be engraved by a King Island carver who combined an older pictorial style of figures with drilled heads and verti-cal lines and a newer picto-rial style with large figures and animals with thick bod-ies and rocker fill. As King Is-landers became well known for using rocker fill during the 1930s, this ivory bow can be
viewed as a transitional object moving from objects made to use within the community to decorative items made for sale. While at the Museum, I shared my research during a lunch lecture. For the presentation, several drill bows and older engraved ivories were brought out from collections and put on display.
This spring and summer I am participating in community-based work discussing engraved ivory motifs and oral sto-ries with carvers and community members in Point Hope, Kotzebue, Nome, St. Michael, Barrow, Shishmaref, Little Diomede and Anchorage. In addition to my dissertation, information from this project will be included in a Smithso-nian website featuring engraved ivory drill bows and con-temporary perspectives. Hopefully this project will result in
multi-vocal discourse concerning engraved ivories and the continued import of carving as Arctic expression.
Many thanks to the staff of the Sheldon Jackson Muse-um and Alaska State Museum for providing opportuni-ties to work hands-on with the collections and assisting the research visit in a myriad of ways!