I am a lifelong Bristol Bay resident, having the privilege of living in Twin Hills, Dillingham, Aleknagik and Igiugig.
Much of my childhood memories are of life and family in Twin Hills, where my maternal family lived/s. It deeply impacted my ability to love people, our Yup'ik language, and the self motivation we have to live Our Way of Life.
My most nostalgic memories are of my grandparents. How my gamallii (grandma) loved her grandchildren with such adornment. Making us fresh bread and "donuts" often, smothering us with food when we walked into her house, and the way she did dishes -with absolute dedication to spotlessness! Her way of sitting on the floor to work on crafts; beading, sewing, grass art. She was always moving, walking miles to her favorite ice fishing places, trekking the tundra in the spring to find wild eggs, and picking berries all around the village so she could make us Akutaq.
I remember my grandpa, working on engines, gearing up to go hunting, and taking drives in his cool yellow Toyota. How he picked every morsel of food off of his plate, and never left a speck of meat on a bone. He loved calling his friends and would talk in Yup'ik with such joy, it made me think he was of another world, and I really think he was. One summer I tried commercial fishing with him. I was in 8th grade and had just fished the beach in Ekuk. I thought I could do anything, until boarding his little tiny Togiak boat and hitting bad weather. We were tossed back and forth in the waves and I was puking as we tied up to the tender to deliver fish. He told me to drink sea water as a cure and I couldn't do it. He had to drop me off the next day. My ambitious duffle bag of clothes, humbled.
My grandparent's grew up in a way that we can't even imagine anymore. We get glimpses in books or from stories, but we still couldn't fully understand the tremendous lives they had in early life. Both born in small villages, likely in sod houses, guided by midwives. Traveling by foot or dog sled between villages. Living in homes without electricity. Having sibling deaths, child deaths, and great loss in a world that was harsh in survival, but offered humility in a way that we don't see often in modern living. They continued on, no matter what they faced, in failures and triumphs. I loved them and miss them beyond expression.
Their children, raised in a developing world, creeping into western charm and material. Fluent in Yup'ik language, but schooling in the western systems. Enrolling in elementary school, knowing little to no English!
My mom and her siblings were gifted precious parts of my grandparents, and raised their own children. We have all done the best we can, living what we learning, adding a bit of our own, but striving to love, and carry on the best of where we come from. All creative, hard working, and full of love in our own ways. I feel touched by ancestors because I am a part of this family.
On my paternal side, I'm a step-daughter, raised by my dad, Tom, from age 2. Not as close to my grandparents on his side, but I respected who they were with much admiration. My grandma was an orphan, raised in Cordova and I think my papa Mike was raised in Dillingham, with an Aleut/Yup'ik mom and Norwegian father. They were hard workers, opened up their own grocery store, Bertie's? and commercial fished. When I was growing up, they had a house off grid on the Wood River, that we lovingly called, Up the Land. It was more homestead life with them, but a respectable and hard earned way of living. My life choices were in large part inspired by their grit to intentionally live simple when modern living was so much more convenient. They were of the most dedicated people I've ever known, and I know a lot of that was impressed on their grandchildren.
My childhood made me confident in art, sports, communication. Eventually headed to college. Doing nothing super meaningful, and then finding inspiration when our way of life was threatened by Pebble Mine.
The art and projects that I have worked on have been in large part come through inspiration of our people and a deep reflection of who we are and want to be, in defense of large scale development. I dove dip to understand and remember the incredible life and relationships I've experienced. And now live to be that to my children and grandchildren. My work has advanced over the years, from what I want to save, to who I want to be, and now expresses what I've loved most, and maybe more of what we still want and hope for our future.
Info ABOUT PEBBLE and bristol bay
PAINTING: I started selling commissioned work in 2003, but since then have slowed down on commissions to focus on my vision and sell self inspired work. I work primarily with acrylic on canvas. I enjoy painting because of the quick results and instant satisfaction. My mood drives my subject matter and often switches between humor, romance and life values.
MURALS: My first 'mural' was painted in the Dillingham High School hallway in 2001 based off of school spirit that our principal asked me to paint. My first public mural was in 2005 and first community mural project in 2007. Since then I have completed about 1 mural a year. I have murals/community murals in Dillingham, New Stu, Juneau, Anchorage, Koliganak, Bethel and Igiugig
It is still something that I'm experimenting with and so far subjects have been based on culture and landscape, but I'd like to push my boundaries with style and composition in the near future. I've also yet to work with professional muralists and hope to gain insight and training to improve.
TEE SHIRTS: Tee shirt designing was something that started in 2006 for laughs. My first shirt design was poking fun of Dillingham with our youthful and rebellious nickname, D-Hole. Since then it has evolved to share the light hearted personality and humor of our region. Although every now and then my rebel pops out and I showcase my screw pebble design that was inspired in college.
GRAPHIC DESIGN: I took graphic design at Fort Lewis College and occasionally take on commissions for logo design. It's more of a hobby since I've decided to follow my heart through painting.