Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI to unveil pieces chosen for Juried Art Show

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May 10, 2018


Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) next week will unveil pieces chosen by jurors for its ninth biennial Juried Art Show and Competition, which will include more than 40 works by nearly 30 artists.  

The show, which was first held in 2002 in part to enhance the quality of artistic work among Northwest Coast artists, has evolved into a highly competitive event featuring exquisite pieces that would make the old masters proud, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“The artists who make it into the show have spent years honing their skills and studying old masterpieces, and we are honored to exhibit true Northwest Coast art,” Worl said. “Part of our goal is to help collectors discern authentic Northwest Coast art—which is a unique art form in the world and very complex—from  the fake, crude knock-offs stores sometimes sell as the real thing to the detriment of our artists.”

Through the event, SHI also aims to encourage and enhance the creation and production of Southeast Alaska Native objects of artistic value which have fallen into disuse and are becoming rare and to encourage the development of new forms of art of purely Southeast Alaska Native form and design.

Artists competed in five divisions: carving and sculpture (wood; metal); 2D and relief carving (relief carving; painting); sewing (capes and robes regalia; skin and fur; beadwork); weaving (Chilkat inspired; basketry); and endangered art (spruce root basketry).

Artists who win best of category compete for best of division, and the division winners compete for best of show. SHI also will award a best of formline prize and a second-best formline prize among all pieces submitted.

The institute’s Native Artist Committee, which is comprised of celebrated Northwest Coast artists who guide SHI’s art programs, recommended artist Jackson Polys and art historian Steve Henrikson to serve as jurors. Master Haida weaver Delores Churchill served as a juror master artist on sewing and weaving submissions. Jurors reviewed the pieces blindly, meaning the names of artists who submitted pieces were not disclosed.

The show will open in the Nathan Jackson Gallery at the Walter Soboleff Building on May 15 and run through Sept. 30 and during Celebration 2018, scheduled June 6-9. Winners will be announced on June 6 in the clan house at SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building in downtown Juneau.


Jackson Polys is a visual artist who lives and works between what are currently called Alaska and New York. His work reflects examinations into the limits and viability of desires for indigenous growth.  He began carving in Saxman with his father, Tlingit artist Nathan Jackson, from the Lukaax.ádi Clan of the Lkóot Kwáan.  He was adopted into the Dakl’aweidí Clan of the Jilkáat Kwáan and worked as a visual artist as Stephen Paul Jackson and Stron Softi. He was featured in solo exhibitions at the Alaska State Museum and the Anchorage Museum before receiving a B.A. in Art History and Anthropology and an MFA in Visual Arts, both from Columbia University, where he taught from 2016-17.  During this time, he was an advisor to Indigenous New York, the collaborative program initiative co-founded by Mohawk artist Alan Michelson and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.  He is recipient of a 2017 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Mentor Artist Fellowship.  His individual and collaborative works reside in collections at the Burke Museum, City of Ketchikan, City of Saxman, Field Museum, Goldbelt, and the Übersee Museum-Bremen and have been exhibited at Artists Space, Hercules Art/Studio Program, the James Gallery, Ketchikan Museums, and the Sundance Film Festival.

Steve Henrikson has served as curator of collections at the Alaska State Museum and adjunct instructor at the University of Alaska Southeast for more than a quarter century. In 1986, he came to Alaska as a seasonal curator at Sitka National Historical Park during a break from graduate studies at the University of Washington. Previously, he earned degrees in history and anthropology from Portland State University. Henrikson’s work and life keep him deeply engaged with Alaska art and artists, with history and history makers, and with cultures and their descendants. He preserves, researches, develops, and exhibits Alaska’s permanent collection—30,000 historical and cultural artifacts and artwork.  Henrikson serves on the board of the Alaska Humanities Forum and as a Tlingit Clan Conference organizer. He works extensively with Native Elders, artists and cultural experts, scholars, and the general public. He and his museum colleagues also consult with communities and museums statewide on museum construction and operations, including the community of Klukwan in the planning of its new cultural center. Henrikson is an adopted member of the Dakl’aweidí Clan (Killer Whale) clan of the Angoon Tlingit and participates in clan ceremonies. He was the 2016 winner of the Governor’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities.

Delores Churchill is an eminent Haida weaver who is an expert in gathering and preparing materials for cedar bark, spruce root, and Chilkat weaving. She learned much of the art from her mother, Selina Peratrovich. As a teacher, Churchill has been instrumental in revitalizing the endangered ancient practice of spruce root weaving throughout the region. Churchill’s weavings are exhibited in museums throughout the world. She also works as a researcher and consultant. Her awards include a Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist Award, a Governor’s Award for the Arts, an Alaska State Legislative Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Artist residency. The Walter Soboleff Building’s artist-in-residence space, located near the exhibits area, is named for Churchill, who serves on SHI’s Native Artist Committee, which guides the institute’s art programs. 

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,