What's My Story (Decolonize Alaska)

What's My Story (Decolonize Alaska)

10,000.00

Mask-carver and installation artist, Drew Michael is of Yup’ik and Iñupiaq origin. He explores his identity through themes of hybridity and mixed media in his contemporary carved and assembled style. He expresses an emotional, ironic and adventurous spirit in his use of mixed media. Although only thirty-one years old, his work is in the Pratt Museum, Anchorage Museum, the Sheldon Jackson Museum and the Portland Art Museum.

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In my work, my whole life has been trying to figure out my identity, flipping through all the different worlds and trying to figure this out through the lens of my life. I was a truck driver on the North Slope for three and half years. I’m an identical twin, an artist, gay. Everyone should have the freedom to share their identity, not segregate. We all become a single identity, a community when we are together. We are building a new, intentional community when we are all together. Not the accidental community of our birth, or maybe where we live, but one we choose. When I teach out in the villages of Alaska I’m always asking questions to people. They want to move forward, but the Elders have a lot of fear. They’ve gone through the church, which still has a lot of control and makes them stuck, wanting to know their culture and their identity. When we go into the schools I see that every generation sees it a bit different, but we are all dealing with the same challenge, asking, “What’s my story?” It’s a constant rewriting process. Tradition feeds into that. Culture is an expression of our thoughts and ideas connected to our place. Alaska is unique – we have a culture that’s connected to the land. We need to understand the function of culture. I see some people replicating culture rather than looking at why things are there.