I have always been intimidated by watercolor. The unpredictability of it was daunting. These last few years I have worked to breaking those barriers that might hinder me from growth, which meant diving head first into this beautiful medium.
I watch the hares through my window as they eat and run around in the willows around my house. They change color with the seasons, and when they rare completely white you know that it is officially winter.
The story of Sedna varies across the arctic, as does her name, but in the conclusion she is betrayed and is cast into the sea and would become the sea Goddess/spirit that controls the ocean animals. I have always wondered if in her new element she had found some sort of peace.
Geese are very protective of their young. In ancient times tiny carvings of Geese would be sewn into the hem of children's parkas for protection. ....
A watercolor painting of a mythical figure, the Chief of the Caribou. Based on a passage by Elijah Kakinya in the book 'Nunamiut Stories'. He keeps his own heart outside of his body to to ensure that the caribou do not die.
Our coastal Inupiaq culture revolves around the Bowhead whale. And the effigy often appears in contemplative moments as our thoughts drift into the ocean.
Our homes look different here in the arctic, but what matters most is the love and warmth that is grown inside
INUPIAQ MYTHICAL FIGURES
For generations after first contact, anything that was mythical or magical in any way in our culture was condemned and squashed and most of our vibrant story telling was almost lost. We are now in the part of history where we are emerging from that darkness. I love drawing these mythical and magical creatures, they are so unique and are a very important part of reclaiming our cultural identity.
An illustration of a short story I wrote that was based on a myth about how a lemming fell into a bowl of seal oil and emerged as a songbird.
How did the sun end up in the sky? Why because of the trickster Raven of course. He steals the sun from an old man and carries it into the sky…
This spirit/woman controls the migration of the caribou, whose movements were vital to the survival of our people. She controls them by combing her hair with carved ivory combs.
One of the most well known figures in arctic mythology is Sedna. The goddess of the sea she has many names. She controls the animals of the ocean.
A shaman artifact was found that was a set of carved ivory teeth that mimicked walrus tusks. Probably used to fight other beings and other shamans in spiritual battles.
A Nuna (tundra) angel rises from the soil with snowy owl wings.
TRADITIONAL USES OF NORTH SLOPE PLANTS
This book is definitely a little different than most of what I normally do. In a previous life I was a Marine Biology major in college and was deep into the science scene with goals to become a science illustrator.
This book was created from start to finish by our Native corporation in an effort to preserve knowledge of our traditional usage of wild plants. I learned SO MUCH and I am forever grateful to be able to be part of this project.
My contributions included technical botany driven drawings, plant usage drawings, photos and anecdotes.
This book is not currently available to the public. It will be available later in electronic form.
Masu, also known as Eskimo potato
Alder in various stages for identification
traditional Nunamiut tea making set up over a fire
using alder bark to smoke and preserve food
MODERN INUPIAQ ILLUSTRATION
I love exploring more modern Inupiaq themes using older references. Mixing old and new is always a surprise.
An image exploring the idea of preservation of a culture. Instead of focusing on breathing life into a culture and living it, most colonial efforts involve recording and preserving us in a museum, like we are already a part of the past. Colored pencil and ink.
An anatomically correct heart filled with Old bering sea surface designs and a few designs that are found on our parkas that denote where you were from. ink.
We carry our children on our backs, under our parkas. Pencil.
I often fill figures with these markings that are similar to ancient Inupiaq surface decorations, and they feel like a language. ink.
Every once in a while I do self portraits. This one combines many symbols in a combination that I feel is me. colored pencil and ink.
A ton of carved animal charms often had surface markings that represented the innards and bones. A type of Inupiaq x-ray vision. I did a series of these, this one is a sky view of the bowhead whale, a central animal in our culture. colored pencil and ink
INUPIAQ LEARNING FRAMEWORK
One of the most personally fulfilling projects is this one. The Inupiaq department, led by Pausauraq Jana Harcharek, was looking for an image that encompassed a lengthy list of Inupiaq Values to use as a visual for the Inupiaq Learning Framework. This image was used to teach Native values across the whole entire school district.
Click the image to listen to a video of Pausauraq explaining the meaning behind each icon.