Linda Infante Lyons:
“By combining elements of Christian iconography with Alutiiq tradition, the artist suggests that they are equally important. She is asking us to consider traditional Alutiiq beliefs on the same level as Western beliefs” The Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository, Kodiak, Alaska
My ancestors from Kodiak Island were both Alutiiq/Sugpiaq and Russian/Estonian. The Russian occupation was swift and devastating for the indigenous people and living creatures of the region. Lost and repressed language, cultural knowledge and spiritual traditions are slowly being rediscovered and brought to light.
With this new series of landscape paintings and Christian icon inspired portraits, I take a deeper look at the world view of my Alutiiq ancestors, finding affinity in many ways with my own.
Alutiiq cosmology is built on the belief that all things, living and inanimate possess a soul, are infused with spiritual energy and are interconnected. In my paintings, both landscape and portrait, it is my hope to reveal this spiritual energy through color and light, representing landscape, plant, animal and human life as equals.
In the spirit of inclusion and interconnectivity, I acknowledge the duality of my history, past and present, native and non-native and build upon assimilated symbols of Christianity, inspired by traditional Alutiiq culture, creating work that exemplifies a world view I share with my ancestors.
“I pair simple drawings with ice and sky colored pots; generate repeating, tessellating patterns that have missing pieces or fall apart as they cover a curve; draw clouds with clay. I aim to make work that is special and also disarming – my version of village-Arctic-neo Alaskana; work that is lovely.” Sarah’s work is exhibited and well received nationally.
Sarah Beaty hails from Fort Yukon, Alaska, a Gwich’in village of 600 people, 150 air miles northeast of Fairbanks, and 8 miles above the Arctic Circle. All of Sarah’s artwork is ceramic: thrown, hand-built, or slip-cast porcelain and stoneware. She works in a renovated 1920’s Northern Commercial Company log warehouse; fires her pots and sculptures in the only wood-fired kiln north of the Arctic Circle; and imports all her materials via barge from Tacoma, WA each summer, as Fort Yukon is unconnected to any road system. She fires her kiln with white spruce cast-off slabs from a sawmill operated by her husband.