Susie Silook, one of Alaska’s best known contemporary artists, will deliver a lecture entitled “Yupik and Iñupiat Art and Activism in Contemporary Alaska” on Thursday, March 8, at 7:00 pm in Kresge Auditorium in the Visual Arts Center on the Bowdoin College Campus. Her visit marks the opening of the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum’s new exhibit, “Enduring Connections: Contemporary Alaskan Yup’ik and Iñupiat Art.”
Silook was born and raised in the village of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. Her father is Siberian Yupik, her mother is Iñupiaq and Irish. As a child she preferred carving ivory, an activity usually done my men, to sewing like the other girls. Her parents supported her non-traditional choice, and she has become one of Alaska’s finest artists. Her sculptures, carved most frequently in walrus ivory, draw on both deeply rooted traditions and her own personal experiences.
Silook is the recipient of many awards, including The Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Arts and the Governor’s Award for the Arts (Alaska). Her work is represented in the permanent collections of museums throughout the United States. She is also a writer and activist and has been recognized by the Alaska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union for her work.
Through her art Silook confronts many contemporary issues facing Indigenous groups. These include violence against women and the current challenges indigenous artists face as their rights to sell works made from walrus ivory are challenged. Walrus ivory has been conflated with elephant ivory in the minds of consumers and some legislators. The drop in sales of walrus ivory carvings is hurting the economies of Alaskan artists’ families and communities.
The lecture is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a reception in Hubbard Hall and an opportunity to view the new exhibit. For more information visit our web page at http://www.bowdoin.edu/arctic-museum or call 207-725-3304.