this is not a silent movie

This Is Not A Silent Movie

Four Contemporary Alaska Native Artists

Pnca_4a059902-1b31-4654-b884-2fc974310283_square Pnca_421d5012-45bb-4686-8746-5b6126205cab_square Pnca_2bb069e5-881d-49fb-bab8-029cefc158ea_square Pnca_3286f428-5673-4de6-93c2-5ff6d52c397b_square Pnca_af1c21db-0a81-482f-ba83-f9833b6d8ace_square Pnca_5b28996d-b8af-4164-bc0f-0e9e4e7773a1_square Pnca_a0437c02-54f9-4f00-8348-aed3c11a8f86_square Pnca_86197fd2-4759-4942-83ba-7dbe5e5db36a_square Pnca_0f041db1-8e71-45b5-85b5-0807067fe785_square Pnca_41b90072-7169-4224-862d-c43344d5143e_square Pnca_75b5e246-c98c-41cf-b522-55c3ae0d7da6_square Pnca_b07f84fb-eb87-4042-90de-4d288cfe9cdf_square Pnca_a187d4ef-73f2-4aee-b572-377a69d23d4a_square Pnca_b43b3a8a-ef94-41b2-9081-5432dd5907aa_square Pnca_869181bd-26ea-44a4-acb5-a1be102bf288_square Pnca_aab7196c-7229-4c70-ab51-a41ba874c2bd_square Pnca_39826895-80e1-493b-aff2-0188b661cfb4_square Pnca_c989a13a-afca-4d01-99c2-5fdd3e86e8bb_square Pnca_50ecffed-3777-4e1f-8d27-f51c2998e401_square Pnca_6e0eebec-d92f-46dd-a4c9-fe783ef63866_square Pnca_5d6b609f-65c1-410e-b932-37b72709f333_square Pnca_8d05f6d3-07b6-4685-b98b-d7fddfff7c2a_square Pnca_1f19599c-1605-4041-a441-5e44c12ac976_square Pnca_cdf179f3-9ef8-4fd5-b12c-71fc02f36d6f_square Pnca_7e7e92ae-fb2f-4f5e-8f0b-2ff38e1c97d4_square Pnca_73b70a55-c448-41d1-975a-9b3b2aeccdc7_square Pnca_4ca99198-ddeb-499b-a504-efac529d7de9_square Pnca_9a8e1917-6156-4e74-83ab-4b27e1e402fb_square Pnca_9ac338e3-69dc-4453-b5c8-248a32f894de_square

January 31, 2014 – April 19, 2014

Curated by: Julie Decker, Ph.D., Chief Curator at the Anchorage Museum

Organized by The Craft & Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) in collaboration with the Anchorage Museum, This Is Not A Silent Movie: Four Contemporary Alaska Native Artists is centered around four acclaimed Alaska Native artists whose groundbreaking contemporary works question institutional methods of identifying Native heritage, examine their own mixed-race identities, and challenge perceptions and stereotypes about indigenous peoples.

Through the language of contemporary visual art, Nicholas Galanin, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Da-ka-xeen Mehner, and Susie Silook and seek new and distinct ways to speak of tradition and mediate the serious and sometimes ironic conditions of art, identity, and history in the late 20th and early 21st century. Though each artist’s work is rooted in a lifelong immersion in their respective Alaska Native craft traditions, their multi-media installations dissolve the boundaries between contemporary and traditional arts.

Nicholas Galanin’s (Tlingit/Aleut) video and photography installations object to the cultural appropriation and categorization of indigenous peoples by popular culture. In Things are Looking Native, Native’s Looking Whiter, Galanin creates a split image that is a composite of one of photographer Edward Curtis’ Native American models with actress Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Star Wars. The image references the cross-pollination of the traditional butterfly whorl hairstyle that was worn by unmarried Hopi girls and the popular culture image. In 2013, Galanin received a major award from United States Artists.

Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Iñupiaq/Athabascan) utilizes media such as polyurethane, Beluga intestine, and walrus stomach into her paintings, sculptures, and labor-intensive installations. These works often simulate skin, which is a point of investigation into her struggle for self-definition and identity.

Carver Susie Silook (Yupik/Iñupiaq) is a writer and sculptor. The ancestral ivory dolls of Saint Lawrence, traditionally carved by men, are the basis of her work. Silook also departs from tradition by depicting women in her carvings rather than the animals most commonly rendered by men. Her walrus tusk carvings add a distinctly feminist perspective to an otherwise male-dominated art form as they address the widespread incidence of sexual abuse and violence perpetrated against Native women. Silook received a United States Artists Fellowship in 2007.

Da-ka-xeen Mehner’s installation Finding My Song (Tlingit/N’ishga) draws upon his family’s stories to take a personal look at the retention and reclamation of language. The installation is inspired partially by his grandmother, whose mouth was washed out with soap whenever she spoke her Tlingit language in school in order to “encourage” her to speak English. Mehner’s work examines his own multicultural heritage and the social expectations and definitions that accompany each aspect of it.

The title This Is Not A Silent Movie comes from a quote by Native American writer and filmmaker Sherman Alexie, who works to move audiences away from narrow and stereotypical views of Native people—a view that Native people had very little influence in shaping.

EXHIBITION SUPPORT:

The Boeing Company, J & S Bishop Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Cultural Trust, Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust, U.S. Bank

NATIONAL FUNDING:

Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) and the National Endowment for the Arts