Cultural Affiliation: Iñupiaq
My grandmother’s patterns were lost and not passed down to me, so when I thought of using my first seal hide, I dreamed and created designs. I began my art after I started creating designs last year, when I got my first seal hide back from a harvest hunt I went on earlier in March 2011. I have vague memories and glimpses of my grandparents in Nome; between the two of them, they harvested and utilized every part of the animal from sewing mukluks, beading, carving, sewing parkas and clothing. I realized I had a desire to learn all about them and what they did as I started creating contemporary designs fashioned to what I wanted to wear. It sparked excitement in me to learn the techniques needed to take the designs from paper to an actual item for myself. In wearing the fashions I created as a fusion from traditional regalia and contemporary trends, I was faced with people wanting what I created. I also found that I want to learn all that I can of our culture and traditions so that my children– and hopefully someday grandchildren–have something to look to as my mother and grandparents unknowingly have done. I have designed my art using the unique and traditional items that I have seen my mother and grandparents use including seal hides, sea otter hides, and carved ivory. These are all used as accents, adding that special touch to modern materials of mainly dyed leathers and touches of sterling silver, Swarovski crystals, authentic black pearls from the black sea and wool. I join them all together by either machine sewing, hand sewing, carving, polishing, glueing, or lacing. Working on these items confirmed to me that things are “caught,” because what I have seen my elders doing has just flowed into sometimes almost an effortless creation.
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