Preserving Culture Through Art

Living in Wasilla, Alaska, David John Angaiak is a visual artist whose work expresses his Yup’ik Eskimo and Unangan Aleut heritage.  He often depicts nature from personal experiences centered around bird and sea life encountered along the coasts of Bristol Bay.  In a world moving further from ancient knowledge, his artistry provides a glimpse of the past with a modern voice.


The desire to explore traditional art expressions allows him to understand his ancestral origins in a deeper way.  Addressing the challenges of a heritage slowly being lost to time, it is a means to preserving culture and knowledge.  This drive began by watching his father carve his first Yup’ik story mask, and continued under the mentorship of his teachers Steve Peterson, and the late Ron Manook.

Combining traditional and contemporary disciplines, he uses mixed media and often incorporates natural materials.  Rare earth pigments gathered from riverbanks and shorelines are utilized to add color.  These are applied by traditional methods passed down to him through family knowledge.  Feathers and fur, harvested throughout the year, are common components within each piece.  Today, these elements continue to represent the rich heritage of the people throughout the Bering Sea.