Vision: Juneau as Northwest Coast Art Capital of the World
(Brochure) (Blog) Northwest Coast art occupies an important position in America’s artistic traditions and cultural history. Most importantly, it plays a significant role in maintaining the cultural diversity of the nation and the cultural survival of the region’s indigenous populations. Like jazz music, which was designated a national treasure by Congress in 1987, NWC art should be designated a national treasure of the United States.
SHI’s quest to establish the Northwest Coast Arts Capital began with the construction of the Walter Soboleff Building that is in itself a work of art, and is adorned with monumental art pieces by three master indigenous artists of international acclaim. The creation of the NWC Arts Capital ensures the survival of NWC arts, providing untold sustainable social and economic benefits to the region and state. SHI’s NWC Arts Capital plan includes the following programs and initiatives:
- Training new NWC artists
- Teaching NWC art in schools
- Ensuring excellence of NWC art formline
- Educating the public about NWC art
- Expanding the NWC art market
- Integrating NWC art in public places
- Designating NWC art as a national treasure
- Protecting clan crest ownership
Northwest Coast Arts Degree Program
SHI has partnered with the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) to develop and offer an Associate of Arts (AA) degree with an emphasis on Northwest Coast arts. The undergraduate program includes a wide spectrum of classes—from tool making to design, basketry and weaving among others. The program, which will be offered this fall at the university’s Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka campuses, is part of a larger effort to establish a four-year degree track through UAS and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Thanks to an MOA between SHI, UAS, and IAIA, students who earn an AA degree with a NWC Arts emphasis have the option to transfer credits and pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from IAIA. Students can also work toward a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences or education at UAS or the broader University of Alaska system.
In addition to art classes, the program requires students to complete courses in Alaska Native studies, Indigenous performing arts and a language class on beginning Tlingit, Haida or Tsimshian, as well as Northwest Coast design, art history and culture, art theory and practice, and career development for artists.
As part of the program, SHI offers scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in arts and museum studies. The application period for scholarships for the fall 2023 is currently open. (Apply) (Flyer)
SHI sponsors art workshops for students of Northwest Coast art practices, such as skin sewing, weaving, carving and formline designs. Some of our workshops can be viewed online on our YouTube channel (here) and on our Vimeo page (here). Check out our calendar for upcoming workshops and classes.
Our Box of Treasures
Through Our Box of Treasures: Deepening the Connections, Sealaska Heritage, the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) and partner communities—Klawock, Sitka and Juneau—will teach Northwest Coast (NWC) art, the world-renowned legacy of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. The program is part of SHI’s effort to make Juneau the NWC arts capital of the world, to galvanize the region’s economy, and to designate NWC art as a national treasure.
Through the program, partners will strengthen the alignment between the AA NWC Arts degree and the UAS interdisciplinary baccalaureate degrees; further develop NWC Arts Career Pathways in six high schools in partner communities by offering more dual credit NWC arts classes; provide specialized, culturally responsive professional training to six secondary teachers and Alaska Native artist teams; build an online library at the Arts Campus comprised of high quality, readily accessible lessons for NWC Arts and vetted ethno-mathematics activities.
The program builds upon the framework and lessons learned from its predecessor, Sharing Our Box of Treasures, focused on building NWC Arts upper secondary and tertiary educational pathways. NWC Arts will be taught in six high schools, UAS and Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus through carefully implemented, sequential multi-year education, career pathways, and professional development..
Northwest Coast art historically included a rich performing arts tradition. In modern times, SHI has sought to integrate Native cultures into productions such as operas and plays. To that end, SHI sponsors Naakahidi (Clan House) Academy, aadé sh kadulneek yé (the way stories are told), which seeks to foster acting, Native language, and singing skills into adults for such performances.
The application period is open for SHI's September, 2023, academy. The workshop, scheduled Sept. 9-10 in Juneau, will be led by Ed Littlefield, Lyle James, Kolene James, and Lance Twitchell. Open to high school aged participants and above. (Flyer)
(Register) Sealaska Heritage and the Sealaska Heritage Store participate in Juneau’s First Friday, a monthly celebration of the arts. SHI is seeking artists to demonstrate and sell their work. Registration is free!
Virtual Artist in Residence
(Application) SHI operates an artist-in-residence program at the Walter Soboleff Building in Juneau. Beginning last April, the program moved to virtual format. For details, contact Jay Zeller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Demonstrating Artists (currently on hold)
Sealaska Heritage is seeking demonstrating artists to work on their art and educate visitors about their art at the Walter Soboleff Building in Juneau, Alaska. A significant portion of the work will take place during hours of high visitation and will include interaction with the public, such as daily 30-minute presentations to visitors, participation in community outreach activities, and events such as Juneau's monthly First Friday. Artists may bring artwork to sell during their residency.
Juried Art Show and Competition
- To encourage and enhance the creation and production of Southeast Alaska Native objects of artistic value which have fallen into disuse and are becoming rare
- To stimulate and enhance the quality of artistic work among our Native artisans
- To encourage the development of new forms of art of purely Southeast Alaska Native form and design
Juried Youth Art Exhibit
SHI's biennial Celebration includes a Juried Youth Art Exhibit of Northwest Coast art in an effort to increase the number of young artists making high quality pieces and to share their work with the public. Cash awards are made to schools of the winners for art supplies to be used by schools or organizations for future instruction in Northwest Coast art. All youth chosen to exhibit receive a specially-made Juried Art Show t-shirt and winners also receive a certificate. The competition is open to all youth in grades 6-12. The exhibit is held in June every even year.
Northwest Coast Art Markets
Sealaska Heritage Institute sponsors a major Northwest Coast Art Market during Celebration, a major dance-and-culture festival. SHI also sponsors art markets in conjunction with various programs. And, SHI recruits artists to participate in First Friday every month and Gallery Walk in December (register for First Friday and Gallery Walk). SHI also operates the Sealaska Heritage Store and frequently seeks quality Native art to sell. If you are interested in selling arts-and-craft products at wholesale prices or consigning art to SHI, please email a photo, description and wholesale or consignment price to email@example.com.
Jinéit Art Academy Youth Program
SHI began piloting the Jinéit Art Academy Youth Program in 2016, building partnerships in four Southeast Alaska communities with the common goal of exposing Alaska youth to high-quality Northwest Coast art programming and increasing the number of Alaska youth exposed to and familiar with Northwest Coast art forms. Read our blog to see photos of recent program activities in Craig, Juneau, Sitka, and Angoon.
Haa Latseen Community Project
(Register) Sealaska Heritage is offering Saturday carving practice sessions with Tlingit artist Donald Gregory from 1-6 pm at the Gajaa Hít building in Juneau’s Indian Village. Participants must be 18 years or older. Maximum of 12 participants at a time. First come, first served. Some carving tools and wood will be available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own tools and projects if they have any. (Blog) (News Story)
SHI sponsors mentor-apprentice workshops to perpetuate and revitalize Northwest Coast endangered art traditions, such as spruce-root weaving and dugout canoe carving. The program was fostered at SHI's first Native Artists Gathering, which brought together nearly 30 artists in 2015 who identified the most imperiled Northwest Coast Native art traditions. Check back soon for upcoming apprenticeships.
Sealaska Heritage offers scholarships through the Sealaska scholarship program and a partnership with the University of Alaska Southeast and the Institute for American Indian Arts. Click here to see all scholarships.
(Apply) Sealaska Heritage Institute and the Juneau School District have entered into a partnership to offer Northwest Coast Art opportunities to middle and high school students. We are looking for interested artists to add to a teaching artist roster, which will be used by teachers looking for specialists to join visit their classrooms. These opportunities are flexible and could be one visit class, a series of visits during one semester or whatever fits best for the teacher and artist. For more information contact Kari Groven at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northwest Coast Native Artist Database
(Register) Sealaska Heritage encourages Native artists to register to be advised of opportunities such as artist markets; teaching/learning classes including Master/Apprentice teams; 1% for art/Public art notices; grants and funding opportunities and more.