At the heart of the exhibition are 19 parkas representing 5 Alaska Native communities: Yup’ik, Iñupiaq, Unangan, Dena’ina Athabascan, and St. Lawrence Island Yupik. The selection includes parkas from the mid-19th century to contemporary reinterpretations of this iconic garment, illustrating the continuing vitality of this art form.
A rich selection of Indigenous drawings, photographic portraits, and traditional dolls will provide context for how parkas are worn in ceremony, hunting, and daily use. These works underscore Native self-representation and the parka’s importance as a cultural signifier. Sewing tools, themselves beautiful works of craftsmanship in walrus ivory, wood, or animal hide, round out the exhibition content.
The exhibition will open May 21, 2023, and is organized by guest co-curators Suzi Jones, PhD, and Melissa Shaginoff (Ahtna/Paiute).
Short promotional video of the exhibition may be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7_GyOxSqzo
Fancy parka, Inupiaq, ca. 1890. Arctic ground squirrel, wolf fur, wolverine fur, calfskin, wool. MOIFA Collection, gift of Louis Criss.
This project is supported in part by National Endowment for the Arts and Terra Foundation for American Art.
Photo: Addison Doty.