by Joel Isaak, Kenaitze Tribe

  • Print: 8.5"h x 11"w
  • Open Edition
  • Ships within 2 weeks
  • Free Shipping & Free Returns

    Joel IsaakKenaitze Indian TribeArchival Print


    The premise of the painting is to use abstract imagery of iconic Alaska naïve images to replace the iconic Spanish imagery of Guernica. I choose an the template of Guernica as an iconic western antiwar painting to spark dialogue about t similarities indigenous people face when they are attacked at cultural centers.

    I choose the Caribou to represent Alaska as whole. It is arguably the widest spread important land mammal food source for Native Alaskans, and food supply is one of the ways culture is shifting.

    There is a hunter being trampled underfoot by a bear and a broken harpoon lying beside him. The bear is roaring through the center of the piece about to die. Native cultures all over the state are quickly running out of people who can pass it on.

    The Raven is essential to mythology and there are stories of the raven bringing the sun into the world. The raven is in the center providing light to the rest of the piece showing that tradition can live on.

    To the right of the raven is an oil lamp held by a wailing woman. The oils used in these lamps are from animals that are no longer able to be hunted as extensively because of the abuse by western markets. And this tradition is dying out.

    The remaining women in the piece are in agony as the life they once new is being burned away or torn from their arms.
    I am a Kenaitze Indian Tribe member from the Dena’ina region in South Central Alaska. I grew up in a small town on the coast spending summers fishing, being outdoors, and processing large game in the fall. I grew up in a Native Alaskan, Northern European home. My current work is reflecting this duality. I enjoy combining native materials and process with more modern industrial process. Through mixed media including; paintings, glass work, bronze casting, wood working, hide and skin work, and atmospheric fired ceramics I strive to communicate and explored some of the issues that arise as a result of Alaska Native culture being impacted by western civilization.

    I began exploring the impact of clashing of cultures when I discovered that have family that was killed during the holocaust. Shortly after this I began hearing stories about how my Native Alaskan grandmother was mistreated during boarding school in Alaska. These types of horrific life experiences are not spoken about very often.

    Until recently I, like my grandparents, did not tell people about discriminatory experiences I had growing up. That changed for me when several people I cared for were sexually assaulted in the same year. I felt rage towards these people and the people who had demeaned me. I finally began talking with people close to me about what had taken place. These conversations sparked within me the idea of my work conveying ideas of forgiveness and rebirth as I began to heal from these hard life lessons.
  • Archival Pigment Print
  • Open Edition
  • Signed
  • You may also like: