Among the most famous living Tlingit artists, Nathan Jackson was honored when the National Museum of the American Indian opened in Washington, D.C., in September 2004, featuring one of his totem poles. Jackson has been working in Alaska Native arts since 1959. He attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he specialized in fabric design, silkscreen, and graphics. Since 1967, he has been a freelance artist doing traditional-style woodcarving, jewelry and design. Jackson has completed numerous totem poles, screens, panels, and restoration projects. He has instructed woodcarving and design at several institutions, including the Alaska State Museum, Sheldon Jackson College, the Totem Heritage Center and the University of Alaska. In 1995 was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship Award. In 2009, the Rasmuson Foundation recognized his contributions to Alaska by naming him its Distinguished Artist of the Year.
Tsu heidei shuaztootaan, y’a yaa koosge daakeit, haa jeex’ anak has kawdik’eet.
“We will again open this container of wisdom that has been left in our care” - Tlingit adage
“I realized that there was a lot of dialogue about how modern art was influenced by art of ‘primitive’ societies. These artists tried to embody the spirit of the objects created by other cultures that referenced man’s connection to nature and the cosmos. This was a turning point for me. My work began to take on a more figurative and narrative style with a new intent. I found a source of strength and power that brought me back to my family, society, and cultural roots.” ~Preston Singletary (Tlingit)
I love this quote from Preston Singletary. It speaks to the restorative energy that gets harnessed through the act of creating. I believe this is why all art gets created; to fulfill a spiritual need in the artist. Imagine how beautiful life was for the Tlingit people when everything that was used in daily activities, from fish hooks and spoons to ceremonial regalia, was created with this spiritual energy by the hands of the people.
Imagine how rich your life would be if every object in your home told a story and represented a living connection to the entirety of your universe. Imagine a life that didn’t imitate art, but was indistinguishable from it on the highest most spiritual level. Perhaps I am idealizing, but in looking at the works of these Tlingit artists, from their totem poles and bentwood boxes to their paintings and Naaxein, I can’t help but wish for such a world, and appreciate the clarity and beauty of a mind that is capable of such dignified creation.
Alaskan Tlingit and Tsimshian, Essay by Jay Miller at UW Digital Collections
07 MFA in Native Arts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
03 BFA in Studio Arts from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
92 AA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe New Mexico.
11/07 Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award
8/07 Alaska Native Arts Foundation CAPS Grant
10/06 Gutsy Artist Award for “Weapon of Oil” in the 64th Parallel Juried show
“I view myself as a contemporary traditionalist, creating works in the “now” branching from traditional art forms, always acknowledging my Tlingit heritage. The Future will protect my work if it “feeds” others, inspires others." - Clarissa Rizal
Clarissa Rizal, is a Tlingit artist and Cultural facilitator. Her work has been featured in prestigious galleries including the Stonington Gallery and the Quintana Gallery. Over the course of her career she has produced work of the highest quality in the form of carvings, silk screen prints, paintings, collages, woven baskets and robes, button robes, beadwork, and regalia design. She teaches weaving workshops, and is active in non-profit activities to promote the arts. She is presently pursuing a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Art.
Norman G. Jackson is of the Tongass Tlingit of southeast Alaska and was born in Ketchikan, Alaska. His lineage is from his mother who is of the Tongass Tlingit Kaats Hit Bear House of southeast Alaska. His father is Kaagwaantaan Tlingit of Klukwan, Alaska.
Norman studied at the Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art in Hazelton, B.C. and received advance training in design and carving. He also received training in metal engraving from the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan.
He is a recognized Master Artist in metal engraving by the Alaska State Council on the Arts Master Apprentice Grant and has received numerous honors for his excellence in wood carving. He apprenticed with Master Artists, Dempsey Bob and Phil Janze, and has been invited numerous symposiums on Northwest Coast Native carving. Norman's work is held in major collections, and his work has appeared in exhibits in the US and abroad.
“I hope to honor our Tlingit heritage, raise awareness and encourage dialogue that will challenge stereotypes and deconstruct false histories.”
Culture cannot be contained as it unfolds. My art enters this stream at many different points, looking backwards, looking forwards, generating its own sound and motion. I am inspired by generations of Tlingit creativity and contribute to this wealthy conversation through active curiosity. There is no room in this exploration for the tired prescriptions of the "Indian Art World" and its institutions. Through creating I assert my freedom.
Concepts drive my medium. I draw upon a wide range of indigenous technologies and global materials when exploring an idea. Adaptation and resistance, lies and exaggeration, dreams, memories and poetic views of daily life--these themes recur in my work, taking form through sound, texture, and image. Inert objects spring back to life; kitsch is reclaimed as cultural renewal; dancers merge ritual and rap. I am most comfortable not knowing what form my next idea will take, a boundless creative path of concept-based motion.
Glass has a defining historic connection with Native Americans in the form of trade beads, which were quickly adopted as a form of ornamentation for clothes and other ceremonial objects. I feel that my work is an exploration of the material of glass and an interpretation of the feeling of Northwest coast art and its symbols. Glass has an inherent sculptural quality that showcases another dimension. I like to think of the shadows created by the glass as showing a fourth dimension of the piece –a sort of a kinetic sculpture that is only revealed when the lighting is right.
I started blowing glass directly out of high school and had the fortuitous opportunity to learn through practical experience. As I never went through university art school training, I learned about art by working with other artists and attending workshops at the Pilchuck Glass School. This experience prompted me to learn about art through what excited me or jarred my interest. In the beginning, this was specifically the act of blowing glass and creating European inspired decorative art pieces.
Robert James "Jim" Schoppert (May 28, 1947-September 2, 1992), was a Tlingit Alaska Native born in Juneau, Alaska. His father was of German descent and his mother Tlingit. During his life, Schoppert became one of the most prodigious and influential Alaska Native artists of the twentieth century. His work includes carving, painting, poetry and essays. He has been described as an innovator, that made traditional and contemporary Alaska Native works often pushing the boundaries of what was considered "traditional" Northwest Coast art. Throughout his career he was a spokesman for Alaska Native artists and artists in general. Having taught at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a guest professor and giving talks and lectures at elementary schools throughout the states of Alaska and Washington, his positive influence was spread through his work and words over the course of his career.