Aug 11, 2011

Tsimshian: Art And Culture To Be Celebrated At Market Showcase

Indigenous artists and performers have announced their attendance at New Mexico’s Santa Fe Indian Market to showcase Alaskan culture. Working in collaboration with fellow indigenous groups, the event will emphasise Tsimshian tradition.

Below is an article published by Juneau Empire

A group of Southeast Alaskan native artists will be showcasing this region’s indigenous art and culture at New Mexico’s Santa Fe Indian Market in an effort to educate and attract art enthusiasts and collectors and develop a similar gathering in Juneau.

“It is the calm before the storm,” said Sealaska Heritage Institute President Rosita Worl. “I am very excited. We are excited and very honoured.”


The two-day market, scheduled Aug. 20-21 [2011], is operated by the on-profit Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), which invited SHI and Sealaska to participate due to Worl’s previous work with SWAIA’s executive director Bruce Bernstein.

The event is one of the most anticipated in the arts community in the Southwest. Artists have become famous at this venue and many sell out in one day, making enough money to sustain their families for a year.

“I have been very impressed with what they do and what I saw down there,” Worl said. “And I have actually persuaded the Sealaska Board of Directors to come down and look at it. The benefits of the Indian market are just enormous.”

The Santa Fe Indian Market is a 90-year-old Native art market and has been instrumental in creating worldwide demand for Southwest Indian art. It is the largest and most prestigious Native arts market in the world and the largest cultural event in the region.

The yearly event is held during the third weekend of August. More than 1,100 artists representing 100 U.S. Federally recognized tribes sell their artwork. The Indian Market attracts 100,000 visitors to Santa Fe from all over the world. Buyers, collectors and gallery owners come to Indian Market to take advantage of the opportunity to buy directly from the artists. For many visitors, this is a rare opportunity to meet the artists and learn about contemporary Indian arts and cultures. Quality and authenticity are the hallmarks of the Santa Fe Indian Market.

The Native on-profit Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) and its founder Sealaska Corporation are planning Native art demonstrations, art sales, dance-and-cultural performances and a high fashion show to spotlight the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska.

Worl organized six artists with roots in southeast to attend as well as 12 members of Yakutat’s Mt. Saint Elias Dancers.

Holly Churchill will bring her Haida basket technique from Ketchikan, Juneau’s Clarissa Hudson-Rizal will bring Tlingit Chilkat Weaving and painting, Angoon’s Donald Gregory will demonstrate Tlingit woodworking, Hoonah’s Louise Kadinger will showcase Tlingit fur and skin sewing, Sitka’s Nicholas Galanin will feature Tlingit silver works, and Rosita’s daughter Celeste Worl will show Tlingit fine art painting. Celeste lives in Santa Fe; her roots are in Klukwan.

Rosita’s granddaughter Crystal Worl, who did the graphics for the Tlingit alphabet books, goes to school at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and as IAIA ambassador secured the museum courtyard for a reception during the event.

Preston Singletary, a Tlingit from Seattle who works in glass, will also attend.

“We wanted to have all the different media, contemporary and traditional,” Worl said. “We are going to really show what Alaska native culture and art is about.”

Besides performing six dances, the St. Elias troupe will be part of a dress review of regalia.

“We will explain the traditional wear our people use in our culture,” Worl said. “First we have the dancing and some of the events. Then some of the dancers will show their traditional regalia and explain that. But since they are from the Yakutat area they use clothing that is different from the southern Tlingit. So we will show ours as well.”

Contemporary work from Haida designer Dorothy Grant from Vancouver will be featured as well as Kadinger’s sea otter wear.

“I get to sit back and make sure every thing is going A-okay,” Worl laughed. “We will be hosting a reception, sponsored by Sealaska and Sealaska Heritage institute. I have invited mayor Bruce Botelho who will be introducing us.”

Invitations have also been sent to Gov. Sean Parnell and his representatives.

“Because we want to show them what is possible with an Indian arts market and what we could do in Juneau,” Worl said. “The economic impact itself in Santa Fe is over 80 million dollars for the Santa Fe event. Our long term goal is to try and persuade those art lovers that they should look to the north and see some of our Alaska native art.”

Worl hopes the effort to showcase native art and culture from Southeast Alaska at the Santa Fe Indian Market will better educate art enthusiasts and collectors about the region’s distinctive indigenous art and to facilitate the same annual event for Juneau, coordinating every second year with the biannual Celebration.

“We think it would be great for us to market ourselves to this very unique group of people who have an interest in Native art, and, we want to tell them that, “Hey, our Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures are still here, they’re viable, and we also have a very distinctive art form that we think you might like to learn about,” Worl said.


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