Opposite: Untitled (I Tan), Chicago 2006 by Erica Lord (Athabaskan/Inupiaq)
In cultures throughout the world, there is a very human need to mark one’s existence in history, to leave traces of one’s life work, clues that may unravel the story of that person, his or her culture or situation. Alaska, throughout history, has been a crossroads of cultures and populations -human, animal, and spiritual. I am both Alaska Native and settler, bloodlines that may at first seem opposite, but in some way came together in my family. The lineage that i was born into and the land I was removed from create a precarious balancing of cultures and I think it is these origins that have molded my identity. In my work, I try to explore worlds in which translation is suspended -the space beyond singular identities -where worlds collide, merge, or resist each other. Understanding that I move through multiple identities and languages int he context of my individual and cultural framework, I want to create a dialogue with others who also have to traverse cultural divisions and boarders. Using Indigenous and post-colonial theologies, integrated with personal experiences, I investigate the history that is shared by many marginalized communities. I want to raise questions as well as declare convictions -challenge, deconstruct, and influence a new way of thinking about contemporary Native people, our life, and our art. In order for cultural, our life, and our art. In order for cultural survival, we must review our visual philosophy, deconstructing the imposed images as well as our own colonized minds. Through this, the multiplicity of self will evolve along with our expanded notions of what is authentic, traditional, or real. The words that exist within me -such as Woman, Native, Artist, Other -continue to separate and merge again, coming together in a voice that seems to be growing louder every day. I ope to merge the knowledge of my communities with the individual experience to create stories that grow and shift along with the words within and around. Through my art, I want to create a dialogue that wil help to redefine our selves, our communities, and our beliefs.