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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, Alaska. 


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.

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 peoples throughout Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea.


The artist David John Angaiak is holding up a Yup'ik Eskimo Story Mask he created titled 'In the Shelter of His Wings'.  This commissioned artwork is created in the traditional form depicting the Snowy Owl.  The body of the mask is white with light blue around the eyes.  Natural earth tones are used on the hoops and appendages, created by rare earth pigments collected throughout Alaska, and applied using traditional technique.
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