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Journey with Our Hearts and Hands (Journey) will be a collaborative gathering of Pacific Northwest master carvers from Yukon, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, B.C., Alaska and New Zealand at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre (Centre) in the summer of 2014, held simultaneously with the fourth annual Adäka Cultural Festival (Festival) June 27 - July 3. Located on the banks of Chunikwan (Yukon River) at the new cultural heart of downtown Whitehorse, the Centre and the Festival have provided the inspirational setting for successive master artist events over the past three summers—exploring key artistic genres foundational to Yukon and surrounding aboriginal peoples.
In 2011, the Circumpolar Soundscape brought together three senior female singer songwriters (Nive Nilsson/Greenland, Diyet/Yukon and Lealah Gilday/Northwest Territories); in 2012 the Spirit of the Drums gathered master and younger drummers from Alaska, Yukon, Nunavut and B.C.; in 2013 Voices of Our Ancestors linked experienced and emerging singers to study traditional and contemporary songs. All three events provided advanced artists with an intensive multi-‐day forum to share their knowledge and vision, interwoven with mentoring sessions for emerging younger artists, and culminating in public performances involving all the artists. The projects have been instrumental in developing artistic practices among northern aboriginal artists, linking senior and emerging artists, forging continued exchanges across regional and international borders, and creating new audience awareness of the rich artistic traditions of Yukon and related communities.
In 2014, the focus will be on carving—another significant artistic practice among Yukon First Nations and aboriginal peoples throughout the Pacific Northwest. Yukon master carvers Keith Wolfe Smarch (Carcross Tagish First Nation), Ken Anderson (Teslin Tlingit Council), Eugene Alfred (Selkirk First Nation), Doug Smarch Jr. (Teslin Tlingit Council), Brian Walker (Kwanlin Dün First Nation by marriage), and Dennis Shorty (Ross River Dena Council) will host a week-‐long exploration of their art forms with renowned Canadian and international artists Dempsey Bob (B.C. Tahltan/Tlingit), Wayne Price (Alaska Tlingit), Reggie Davidson (B.C. Haida), Stan Bevan (B.C. Tahltan/Tlingit), Abraham Anghik Ruben (N.W.T. Inuvialuit), Kathleen Carlo Kendall (Alaska Athabaskan), Norman Jackson (Alaska Tongass), and Lyonel Grand (Māori, New Zealand) Respected curators will attend parts of the gathering to provide expert advice on current art market trends and perspectives.
Journey will be a landmark event for Yukon carvers, enhancing linkages developing with artists throughout the Pacific Rim and Northwest regions. The master artists will share ideas, inspiration and knowledge through organized forums and informal studio time in a carving tent by the Yukon River, discussing issues, trends, challenges and opportunities, while working on their art together in a creative and supportive environment. They will also consider ideas for working on a collaborative piece, which will be proposed to the Yukon Permanent Art Collection.
Younger artists will be invited to attend and participate in the daily forums. They will be working in an adjacent tent, affording more opportunities for interaction and relationship building. The Centre will provide exhibit space for a collaborative exhibition of the master artists’ work, which will also provide the forum for several public discussions of the traditional and contemporary development of Pacific Northwest art forms, including contributions by curators and gallery owners from Vancouver, Germany, Ottawa and the U.S.
Report courtesy Charlene Alexander.