Yup’ik artist and designer Peter Williams bridges worlds of fashion, art, tradition and innovation. His hand-sewn works from self hunted animals challenges anti-Native policy and viewers who subscribe to mainstream, non-Indigenous views of conservation, believing that we must “preserve” nature by minimizing human interaction with it. This is in contrast to Indigenous perspectives: We must build reciprocal, intimate relationships with plants and animals, as we nourish ourselves and adorn our bodies with them every day. His fur objects go a step beyond to address the legacy of colonization and the struggle to keep ancient customs alive. By celebrating natural cycles and living in harmony with the animal and spiritual worlds, Yup’ik culture has survived for thousands of years in some of the harshest environments.
The exhibition opens: April 26
Virtual Artist Talk: May 6, 5:00 pm
Closing Reception: June 23, 6:00 – 8:00pm
Image: “Why Did I Cry Making This Symbol?” (2018), Sea otter; sheared sea otter; seal; thread, 15 1/2” x 19 1/2” x 2”.
Photo credit Alyssa Russell
Description: Russian colonial powers prized sea otter fur, and lust for this ‘soft gold’ led to genocide, land theft, and exploitation of Alaska and its Indigenous groups. This oppressive power dynamic continues through American occupation today. Although Alaska Natives theoretically have exclusive rights to hunt and work with marine mammals, non-Native people are still creating the definitions and regulations of who qualifies as Alaska Native and what qualifies as Native art.
March 30, 2021