I am a member of the Keniatze Indian Tribe from the Dena’ina region in South Central Alaska. I grew up in a small town on the coast spending summers fishing, being outdoors, and processing large game in the fall. I grew up in a Native Alaskan, Northern European home. My current work is reflecting this duality. I enjoy combining Native materials and process with more modern industrial process. Through installation including; paintings, glass work, bronze casting, wood working, hide and skin work, and atmospheric fired ceramics I strive to communicate and explore some of the impact resulting from Alaska Native cultures contacted by Western civilization.
My people group is one of the least documented indigenous groups in the world. At first this lack of documentation was intimidating as people would try to challenge my views and identity because I did not line up with their perception of what a Native Alaskan should be. This pressure helped me to quickly develop my artistic voice and be confident in standing by my work.
I use nontraditional materials to tell traditional stories that show how people have overcome adversity, or given life from themselves. I love the way traditional masks enable the human body to transform into another entity to tell a story. I also make human forms with animal skins as a reversal of the traditional mask making method. In these mask and figurative forms I wanted to portray myself but allow a large audience to relate personally to the work. When I approach setting up a show I make a list of emotions and feelings I want to experience when I am in the space. By setting up environments the viewer is not being told what to experience, rather they are given a starting point for their own train of thought.
We met in Anchorage, working on a special event. Contact me please Darl Schaaff 907 279 7500
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