Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_Sealaska Heritage announces winners of Juried Art Competition, Youth Art Exhibit

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June 6, 2018

Ten artists have taken top prizes and honorable mentions at Sealaska Heritage Institute’s ninth biennial Juried Art Show and Competition, and 13 young artists also placed in SHI’s second biennial Juried Youth Juried Art Exhibit.

Haida artist Ariane Xay Kuyaas won Best of Show and Best of Endangered Division for her spruce root basket.

In a written statement, jurors Jackson Polys and Steve Henrikson and juror master artist Delores Churchill said the piece was very finely woven and made with expertly prepared and split spruce roots.

“The classically and subtly beautiful design is completed with both the upmost care, and with a willingness to move beyond the mechanical, to imbue this creation with character and a human touch, that speaks to the effort and care needed to ensure our traditions survive and thrive,” the jurors wrote.

Tlingit artist Robert Mills won Best of Formline and Best of Painting Category for his cedar, bentwood box Raven’s Portal, and Haida artist Sgwaayaans (TJ Young) took second place for best formline for his piece, Hlats’ux (Northern Lights).

Other winners by division and category:

Carving and Sculpture Division (wood and metal categories): Tlingit artist Robert Mills won Best of Division and Best of Wood Category for his mask, X’átu; Tlingit artist Samuel Sheakley won Best of Metal Category for his pendant Ku.éex’ Spirit; and Haida artist Sgwaayaans (TJ Young) was given on honorable mention for his mask, Shaman’s Apprentice.

2D and Relief Carving Division (paintings and relief carving categories): Haida artist Sgwaayaans (TJ Young) took Best of Division and Best of Relief Carving Category for his piece Hlats’ux (Northern Lights); and Tlingit artist Robert Mills won Best of Paint Category for his cedar, bentwood box “Raven’s Portal.”

Sewing Division (skin and fur, beadwork and capes/robes regalia categories): Tlingit artist Harmony Hoss won Best of Division and Best of Beadwork Category for her piece, Frog Box; Libby Watanabe won Best of Capes/Robes Regalia Category for her piece, Raven Dance Cape; and Jennie Wheeler took Best of Skin and Fur Category for her piece, Men’s Vest.

Weaving (Chilkat inspired and basketry categories): Tlingit artist Ursala Hudson won Best of Division and Best of Chilkat-Inspired Category for her piece, Inside Out; and Deborah Head-Aanutein won Best of Basketry Category for her basket, Remember Us, and an honorable mention for her basket, Midnight Journey.

Endangered Art Division (spruce root basketry category): Ariane Xay Kuyaas, who also took Best of Show, won Best of Division for her piece, Spruce Root Basket; and Sonya Koenig Johnson won an honorable mention for her basket, All Spruced Up.

Other pieces selected for exhibit included Engravers Basket by Shkáx Kawdulaak (Andrew Tripp); Tóos’ Yá (Shark’s Face) by Jerrod Galanin; Everpresent Eagle by Jennifer Younger; The First Starry Night by Shkáx Kawdulaak (Andrew Tripp); Inverted Love by Jerrod Galanin; Yakutat Roots by Jennifer Younger; Killerwhale Spirit by Shkáx Kawdulaak (Andrew Tripp); The Sneeze by Alison Marks; Grandfather Speaking Through Me by Norman Jackson; Kéet Wootsaagáa (Killerwhale Staff) by James Johnson; Transforming Raven by James Johnson; Eagle Guitar by Lance C. Cesar; Tsimshian Wolf Ukulele by Mark Sixbey; Family Crest Chest by Clifton Guthrie; Lunch by Margie Morris; Gunakadeit (Sea Monster) by James Johnson; Becoming by Alison Marks; Treasure from the Sea by Kathy Humpherville-Thompson; Raven Button Robe by Janice L. Jackson; Otter Paws by Deborah Head-Aanutein; The Superduo Set by Natalie L. Suan; Bible Prayer by Sarah Williams; Clan Medicine Bay by Natalie L. Suan; Ghostface Leggings by Ariane Xay Kuyaas; Dually Enrolled Two Spirit by Laine Rinehart; Rattle Top Basket by Trevan Skan; Ravenstail: Thoughts of Sand Ripples by Vivian (Guthrie) Benson; and Salmonberries by Sonya Koenig Johnson.

Jurors were Tlingit artist Jackson Polys and art historian Steve Henrikson. 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 Juried Youth Art Exhibit includes 30 objects made by 25 middle and high school students from Anchorage, Angoon, Craig, Juneau, Ketchikan, Klawock, Metlakatla, Sitka and Ward Cove.

Juror X’unei Lance Twitchell told the young artists at the ceremony that he was blown away by their talent and creativity.

“You have truly followed your ancestors through the things that you have made. It’s like they’ve revealed their faces through (your art),” he said.

In the middle school division, Kinsie Kuyaadaa Young won first place for her piece, Lightning Headband; Laci Lowery won second place for her piece, Steam Bent Spruce Bracelet with Eagle Hummingbird Design; and honorable mentions were given to Laci Lowery for Eagle Sun Paddle, Alexis Lawnicki for Young Eagle, Kalila Arreola for World of Love, and Kenai Holien for Frog Panel.

In the high school division, Haleigh Ebbighausen won first place for Octopus; Tad Kyáanaang (Bianca Adams) won second place for her piece, Dajáangaa; Drena Hayward won third place for Killerwhale; and honorable mentions were given to Malory Smith‐Turpin for Raven Panel, Kobe Edenshaw for Raven Forehead Hat, Andrea Cook for Northwest Coast: Early Bird, and Audrey Williams for Eagle Paddle.

The competition was open to all youth in grades 6-12 and entries were judged by Tlingit artist and teacher X’unei Lance Twitchell. The competition was open to all youth in grades 6-12.

The youth exhibit will be on display at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center through June 30. The Juried Art Show and Exemplary Works exhibit will be on display in the Nathan Jackson Gallery at the Walter Soboleff Building in Juneau through Sept. 30. The gallery also features an Exemplary Works Exhibit and SHI’s new exhibit, Our Grandparents’ Names on the Land, which explores ancient place names and the innovative inventions that were used to catch halibut and salmon.

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,

Caption:  Spruce root basket by Haida artist Ariane Xay Kuyaas, Best of Show and Best of Endangered Division, 2018 Sealaska Heritage Institute Juried Art Show and Competition.

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