I was recently interviewed twice in the last two weeks. Once by an eager group of young college students, taking a college level course in Alaskan Native Contemporary Art. The questions they asked were very piercing and I could tell that they had taken time to do their research on me and my work and really thought deeply about my work in general. I was deeply moved by their thoughtfulness and care and I was also deeply inspired by their interest in my work.
I felt like that interview prepared me for yet another interview, this time by a fellow professional artist that I had made a friendship connection with at different national artistic gatherings. They were working on their thesis for their PhD program and also asked questions that really made me think deeply and thoughtfully about the evolution of my work.
I am also working on something of my own, that addresses the evolution of myself as a woman artist, and how my work has evolved through time. I will share a bit of these thoughts now, and this might be a subject for a few different blog posts, as the evolution of me being an artist really spans over the course of my entire life. It is a long-form story. I might have covered some of this arch in other blog posts, so there might be some overlap.
I remember being about four years old. I was drawing a "chocolate chip head" man. I remember that I loved drawing, creating art. I felt that this was something I was meant to be doing. One of my babysitters as a young girl was an infamous Alaskan artist by the name of Claire Fejes. She wanted me to become an artist too. I remember being about 5 years old, in her house, looking at her easels, and her taking time to help me to play with art. She had given me one of her originals when I was a teenager, and as a young kid, she made an original small drawing for me and inscripted on it, "for Allison, whom I hope someday will become an Artist".
I still have that drawing with the inscription. I still remember how it felt to be in her apartment, to be facing that easel, the love she had for me when we reunited when I was a teenager, how she encouraged me again to pursue a career in the arts. I feel very fortunate to have had her impress upon my young psyche the value of being an artist. Looking back, she must have seen something in me, and now I wish that she was still physically alive so that we could talk more in depth about art and the practice of art.
When I was in third grade, I won a state-wide art contest for my grade level. I used pastels, and I remember the second place girl got very very upset that I won and she didn't. She was my young friend, but our friendship shifted after I had won.
I remember creating art in pre-school, and something in my soul clicked, like this was something I was meant to do, like swimming forward after being thrown into the water. I was comfortable and at peace in many mediums.
When I was eight, my mom brought me to an audition at the local University to be in a television commercial to promote dental health. I won the audition, and I remember clearly the bright bright lights, doing take after take, and her, beaming in the background while the crew worked around me. I hadn't asked to do the commercial, but she thought I would be good at it. Probably because as a little girl, I used to constantly "play dead" in front of my Mom, dying in innumerable ways. I would "die" right in front of her and stay dead for a very very long time. Sometimes she would react, other times she would wait it out until I would finally "come alive" again. I would also do other performative things, for my first audience, my family.
I remember my Aana (great-Aunt, but in this case my bio-grandma) Rhoda talking with my Aaka (grandmother, and in this case, Rhoda's sister) and my Mom in the kitchen when I was just about six years old. I was pretending to be asleep on the couch. They said that I had the same gift that Rhoda had, the ability to work a crowd and make them laugh. They recognized that within me at a young young age and encouraged it.
At around seven years old, I was in a play that my Mom wrote, directed and cast each year. This year was my turn to play the part of an angel. The play was a Nativity play, and it was done entirely in the Iñupiaq language. There was a beautiful set, and a choir that my Mom directed while the play was going on, the choir would puntuate the storyline. There was an audience, all sitting in the pews, and there was even special lighting and costumes. I remember my cousin June Bug was also an angel that year and we got in trouble during rehearsal because we kept elbowing one another, moving back and forth, wanting to shift positions so we could be seen better from the audience. "Mary Ann! Your Angels are fighting!" the Elders said, as they were laughing.
I remember taking piano lessons and I also played cello from third grade to eighth grade, with many many performances and rehearsals, many times of lugging my borrowed cello back and forth to school so that I could practice for the concert.
When I was in sixth grade, I was in a group choir play, and we all performed together. The director of that play saw something in me and encouraged me in sixth grade to memorize a monolouge and perform it in front of the entire school, which was a pretty big school in Fairbanks, Alaska. With her encouragement, I memorized every single line in that three minute comedic monolougue and I did perform it for all of my peers at the school wide talent show. I wasn't afraid, I was excited. I was ready. They laughed. I felt good about what I had done and I wish I could remember that teacher's name so that I could connect and thank them today.
I remember being teased for being Iñupiaq, for wearing parkas with wolverine and polar bear fur, for talking about eating frozen fish eyeballs and whale. I remember in fourth grade having two friends and we all named eachother after different kinds of asprin. Bayer, Tylenol, and I forget the other one. I remember that I was being teased so bad one year about my parka (this was fourth grade) that a group of boys that were teasing me and calling me names were playing "king of the mountain" on a small snowy hill in the playground. I became so enraged by their racial slurs and comments that I managed to fight every single one of those boys on my way up that hill, with my parka on, with my snowpants and boots. I wrestled them down one by one, as I was ascending. I then made it to the top and screamed, "I AM KING OF THE MOUNTAIN!".
Also in fourth grade, I was in a choir, and we had rehearsals in school. I remember how happy and passionate our choir teacher was, and how she expected us to be very disciplined with the music and performing.
My Mom every week would hang microphones in a smallish room in the upstairs of the church she was active in, and she would set it up with many Iñupiaq people in the room, with Iñupiaq songbooks on each chair. My Mom would record them with precision and then deliver the tapes through a long drive to the neighboring town of North Pole, to the radio station. And once a year, the choir would all gather in North Pole at the radio station to perform "live on the air" for Christmastime.
I remember doing a long-form installation on the path that ran along side the dirt road that led to our trailer in the trailer park. I wanted a series of steps in on the wall of the path, and meticoulously I dug these beautiful tiered steps that had many different possibilities for ascention along the trail. I remember going to that same spot each day like it was my job. It literally took me almost the entire summer to finish the project. I dug so deep that I was able to utilize the steps again year after year. They were dug deep into the wall in a unique half oval shape. I didn't think of it as an art installation then, but I do see it that way now. It was aesthetically beautiful.
I remember making mix-tapes as a 11 year old, and recently I found a tape that I had made and I was only nine years old! I had used two tape decks to make a mix tape of all my favorite songs. I found this recently and heard my own little girl voice, documenting the exact date and my age at the end of the tape.
These are some of my earliest memories.
I remember my Uncle who would come in from Kaktovik, with beautiful artwork he had made. My Mom would drive him to different places, and I would walk in with him as he would show his beautiful traditional art to the potential merchant. I remember when he did sell a beautiful baleen etching, he immedately took the money and bought a drill tool that he had wanted for so long, so that he could make more art. He still makes art to this day, and his wife is an artist, and his kids have also inherited many artistic abilities and gifts.
I remember being eight years old, we were driving to the Fairbanks Festival of Native Arts. I was in the backseat, and I was looking up at the moon. I wanted to compose a song, a song of my very own, and I did. I made a song, wrote it down with two verses that would circle back to the same chorus. I remember that my Aaka and Aapa and Mom kept asking me to sing the song over and over again, and if you asked me to sing it today, I would remember it word for word.
I remember looking up at the moon, knowing that the moon would see me my entire life. The moon would remember my growth, my journey.
Maybe tonight when I sleep, I will be flooded with more memories that set the foundation for the Artist that I am today. When I think about my evolution as an Artist, in my mind, I go back all the way to being about three years old, in pre-school, drawing, making fingerpaint masterpieces.
Goodnight, as I suspected, this post is the beginning of a series, as a part of my personal reflection on my journey to become the artist I am today. The evolution of me, my perspectives, my mediums, vision and work.
The above photo of my arm between my two doggies. The photo has nothing to do with the post, other than maybe this image is heart-softening.
I have been thinking of posting more "meaty" posts here, something that leads a conversation, or gives more for someone to think about and digest.
This one is about one of our Iñupiaq values, "avoidance of conflict".
I remember one time I was driving my Mom and I up the highway from Anchorage to Fairbanks. We were going to go visit family up there and it was winter time. For some reason we were driving late at night and I took the opportunity to ask my Mom, an Iñupiaq Elder about each of our Iñupiaq values. She broke down each value for me, gave me the deeper meaning, from her knowledge and perspective and training. She allowed me to record our conversation. I'm not sure where that voice memo is now, as it was probably about 5 years ago when this drive happened. But I still remember what she said and I will share some of it with you now.
One of our Iñupiaq values is that of "avoidance of conflict". When you read the value, it sparks images of a person seeing conflict ahead of them and then going "oh no, conflict over there, I am going to avoid it all together and go this other way instead" or maybe it evokes an image of you having conflict happening right in front of your face and you are silently taking it all in, not saying anything or doing anything to "avoid the conflict". You can think of many more scenarios like this where you deftly "avoid the conflict" like maybe having wrist bands on that bounce the conflict away some magical kind of way.
When I went into a deeper conversation with my Mom about this value, she told me that the above avoidance scenarios couldn't be further from the truth. Avoidance of conflict means that when conflict arises, any hint of the conflict, you deal with it right then and there, head on, with all the humor and love in your heart. You say something. You confront it. As an Iñupiaq, you probably deftly confront the possible conflict with a joke, or a way that makes everyone laugh - a way that makes everyone laugh yet at the same time deftly confronts the possible conflict head on, right in that moment, no holds barred.
It reminds me of another story, this time I was working for the North Slope Borough School District in Utkeagvik, Alaska. Some friends of mine were coming up to do some work and they hadn't been to Utqeagvik before. I was making a list of slang used in Utqeagvik at the time, so they could surprise the locals with the venacular of the big village. In this process of making the "welcome to Utqeagvik" orientation packet for my artist friends, I found a funny thing in the closets and files of the NSBSD...
It was an orientation packet for teachers new to the school district, new to the Arctic, new to the Iñupiaq. It was filled with lots of common sense things about life in the Arctic, and then around bullet point number 22 it went something like this:
22: Iñupiaq People are extremely blunt. They will say exactly what they think about something right to your face, right in the moment. If you upset them, they will let you know immediately, with no hesitation, but sometimes their commentary on what you are doing wrong (or different) will come in the form of a joke, often at your expense. Be prepared for an Iñupiaq person to go right up to you and say what they feel, without hesitation or sometimes what you might feel is a filter.
It went something like that. It made me laugh and it made me feel loved, knowing that I am not the only blunt Iñupiaq out there, tackling any possible conflict head on with no holds barred.
Dealing with the conflict right away is the "avoidance of conflict". You don't allow anything to build up, any resentments or "I wish I had said this" or misunderstandings about what was really meant in that moment. It allows any potential conflict to immediately be handled, with joy and love, wit and humor.
I am thinking about this value because I have a tendency to call out what I see as not being right - I call it out right in that moment. This quality can seem to be off-putting at times, and at times people would rather dance around or even hide from conflict than have an instant discussion, face to face.
Sometimes people feel more comfortable dealing with conflict by talking around the conflict - for example, telling a friend about the incident instead of "going to the source" and then hoping the friend will possibly tell another friend who will tell the person who is in conflict with the first person. Indirect approach.
I prefer to "go directly to the source" a value that was also shared in my Art Equity facilitation training that I attended in Atlanta last year. I felt right at home when we spoke about this shared value.
I have so many memories of being a young Iñupiaq woman and one of my Uncles or Aunties or even just someone in the community, they let me know what I am doing wrong or what they find strange - and somehow they make everyone around them laugh (including me) and I would manage to feel embraced and put in check all at the same time. I love that about my People.
I am just now feeling more confident in saying the right joke or comment that can make people laugh, feel loved and also know that I disagree with them, all at the same time.
All at the same time. This is my take on "avoidance of conflict. As a disclaimer, I am only one Iñupiaq person and by no means represent all Iñupiaq people, as we are all so amazingly unique.
Almost all the snow has melted here in Alaska. I have been sending out about 5 postcards a day, so if you want a postcard, please contact me with your physical address. I draw on each postcard, sometimes I write a poem, until I have about 5 ready to go. Then I pick out random names from my "back to the 80's address book" and write a personal note, then place a stamp from my mega roll of stamps. I have been enjoying the daily discipline of drawing, writing, thinking about people who I am connected to, sending them thoughts and love. A small percentage write a postcard back, which feels like a large percentage when I get one in the mail. Spending a lot of time in the house, my daily rhythms have taken new forms.
I have been doing the Wim Hof method, just the breathing and the cold showers, not sure if there are other parts of the method that I am missing. I like the method so far, I do the breathing each morning and each night, an addition to my daily meditation practice.
Slowly but surely, my facebook friends are dwindling down, as I painstakingly take the time to delete people one by one. It has been a lot harder than I thought to extricate myself from the medium than I thought, because there are fears that pop up, pop up, up, up. I have so many contacts and connections there from people and artist friends from all over the world, I feel most times when I am deleting my friends that I am giving some of my wealth away. Like giving away parts of a protection, or I am unravelling a friendship song. Yet, when I sit at my desk with all my favorite pens to draw with and I take time to write down addresses and think of the person who will open their mailbox and get a surprise card in the mail, it gives me strength to keep going along with the plan to leave the medium of facebook. I am making connections and strengthening connections in a different way, a way that makes me feel like I did when I was a teenager, with my address book and my stationary and stickers. I know that I could just de-activate my account and not do the slow one-by-one delete of friends and posts and memories, but I am kind of like a dog with a bone sometimes, once I get it in my head I am going to do something a certain way, I stick to it. I do love the postcard writing, the space that I get into when I am writing notes. I think the letters and postcards are my best way of communicating, more than a well crafted email or a blog post or a twitter poem.
I am filled with lots of love and life these days. We got a puppy from friends who had a small doggie who made puppies with another small doggie, and now we have a boy puppy who is about six months old. He's very much a puppy and we love him. The big doggie that we had for a year before the puppy arrived has adjusted to his new little best friend. It was a process, he has come out on the other side. The big doggie, we are his fourth family and he was at the pound for 59 days before we brought him home, so it has been a big love journey to bring him to accept a family that will love him forever. The puppy has actually helped neutralize some of his trauma that he must have gone through to get to us.
These are the stories, I am spilling out to you. Today, I was able to let go and feel a deep deep love. Tears went down my face, as I was able to let go of very stubborn parts of my heart. Things that I was determined to be dug into, that I was determined to hold onto, ways that I know that I was right right right, my stubborn heart stuckness, all at once, all of it became unravelled and the stuck parts flew up into the springtime sunlight.
Thank you for staying with me. I am filled with so much energy and work is going good, I am so excited to have something new to share with you. Soon.
Hello everyone, from New York City. I am here to attend the APAP conference, and to perform. I am here to meet with friends, and hopefully meet with potential business partners. I am here to soak up the city of New York, where I once lived. It does feel like coming home.
I apologize for not posting for awhile. I feel I am now re-emerged from my own dark night of the soul. I have been focused on my healing journey, and I had been stubbornly holding onto ideas, modalities, ways of being that were no longer serving me. Through persistent, focused effort, I feel I found a break through, I find myself now on new, sacred ground.
Last night in my dreams, I had a ziploc bag of what seemed to be my own organs and blood. To me, it was trash, I was taking out the trash. I went to the ocean, where there was a special trash receptacle at the shore. I was balancing on top of the bridge, on a teal steel beam. I stopped, unwilling to make the trek to the water. Something stopped me, perhaps it was fear. Perhaps it was my attachment to my need to "be right", or my own stubborness, my attachment to the way that I have made sense of the world. I am not sure, but I was stuck atop the bridge, with my beautiful view.
Just then, a storm arose. The ocean water swept me up, up up. I let go of my organ bag, and I grabbed ahold of a thick, white rope. I held onto the rope, as I swung in a circle, dipping in and out of the ocean three times. I was screaming for help from my Mom, who had a view of what was going on, but was laughing and unconcerned. I remember the rush of the water, the taste of the salt, the complete submergence of all who I am.
And then, the water calmed. My organ bag was gone. I felt renewed, different. I held no anger in my heart, towards anyone. Three big dips in the cool clear ocean, a storm that was more of an embrace than something abrasive.
And here, I sit in front of this screen, awash with love for situations that I had held my point of view so strongly, I let go of my need to be right, or to be perceived as right, I let go of my calcified rightness, I allow the love to wash through me, sweeping me to a new, more whole place.
Anew, reborn. Filled with love and forgiveness. From this place of power, I move forward. Soaking in my big big city home.
Welcome to my blog. I am glad you found me. You might be new here, as I have been in the process of deleting facebook and I have offered this blog space as a way to keep in touch with me, to visit virtually.
I am chest-deep in this process of leaving facebook. It is messy, like a super nova event. Like the birth of a star, or the particles that are birthed from a black hole. I understand why it is so hard to leave facebook, as I have been in this boat that is so pointed and sure for awhile now, yet even in all my clarity around this decision, there have been so many moments when I want to put my oar in and do a hard about turn.
It is much harder to leave than I had imagined, yet I do have faith that there is an end in sight. After I unfriend or 2104 people unfriend me, after I meticulously delete all of my posts and pages and untag myself. Yes, there were easier ways. Yet what surprised me the most about this process is that I have so many friends on facebook that are dead.
As in, not alive. They died, and either did not have their fb wishes known, or they died and did want a memorial page. I realized that if I just leave, my name and connection to people on facebook through our "friending" will withstand the tests of time, it will remain until either I or the other person actually clicks "unfriend". It was hard to see all the people I had lost in the last 11 years. To click unfriend, to let them go. It was hard to see their faces again, to be reminded of the loss, again.
It is hard to click unfriend to people who did not reach out to give me their address in my overflowing and well-loved "back to the 80's" address book. I have had to come to peace with letting people go, without any clear way of reaching them.
A peace. A resolve. A hope, that at the end of this process, I will know it was the right thing to do, with absolute clarity. I do strongly feel that this is the right thing to do, not just for me, but for others who know me, who are connected with me.
As I am writing this, I have a stack of 200 blank postcards and 200 ready to go stamps. I have about 200 addresses in my address book, a lot lot more than I had "way back in the 80's", when I was a young girl filled with all the hopes and dreams.
these are the days
when one takes a stand
as others watch her fire burning strong
all in the center of the sun, swimming
these are the moments
where one listens to the nudges of spirit and dreams of Ancestors wrapped around
as a blanket
one is obedient, clear and steady
the place where the hard becomes soft again
these are the days
I am looking forward to the moments where I share with you, in person. Perhaps performing, maybe it is a phone call. Maybe I am reading poetry or dancing, or we see eachother in a convention hall or at a restaurant. Maybe it is when you get your postcard in the mail, and your heart smiles big. And that big smile moves towards me, like the ocean moves towards the edge. Yes. Thank you for you caring about me and my work, my visions and thoughts and dreams. I feel you, and I keep the fire burning. Thank you for sending me energy hugs and love balls that stick to the .undersides of my feet. Thank you for throwing protective elements around my home, around my loved ones and my doggie. I feel it, I know this love. This love of connection and friendship, two stars beaming next to one another in the sky. Thank you.
Above, excerpts from my now defunct Instagram page.
I have been making hard changes in my life lately, switching myself into a higher spiritual gear, making commitments to my health and spiritual growth and keeping them. One of my internal resolutions has been to wake up and meditate for at least 10 minutes a day.
It is funny how a habit begins to form, how the cellular memory starts kicks in, and through a simple decision to "keep at it", the body finds its way to support and kicks in the practice when the mind might want to do other things.
This is what happened to me this morning. When I awoke, I started to play on my phone, a habit I am soon to break. Yet after I read news from the "good news" site and checked my decaying social media presences, I sat up in bed, needing to go to the bathroom.
Yet, the moment that I sat up, my body clicked in to "meditation mode", because I was sitting upright on the place where I meditate each morning. I held my bladder and immediately went into my meditation practice, remembering to set a timer for 10 minutes. I listened to my body, and I took the time, resisting my bodily needs for a moment.
After the 10 minutes were up, I went for another 5 minutes. By then, my doggie was starting to whine a bit, reminding me that he has bodily needs also. As quickly as I could, I began the series of motions and sang a "good morning" song in the process, getting myself ready to take the dog on one of his two long walks of the day.
We found ourselves at our dog park, where the day before, I had found a place in the trees, away from the main trails. A place where green spongy moss is surrounded by trees. Yesterday, I had sat on the super spongy moss and meditated for 15 minutes, as a continuation of my bedside morning breathing and letting go. Yesterday, my butt got wet, as my doggie darted back and forth, waiting for me to be done sitting still.
Today, I thought to bring my rain poncho, so my butt wouldn't get wet as I sat. With my "good morning" song still resonating in my brain, I began to meditate again, this time for 15 minutes, as my doggie darted back and forth, pulling a root up from underneath the moss nearby, chewing it off into a stick to play with. At the end of my time on the moss, I played tug of war with the stick my dog had fashioned for himself, until it broke in two.
These are the songs of new habits forming, taking hold, like new ice that forms on a small pond. Sikutchiaq.
I am that new ice, forming as part of the cycle of the seasons. As I let go of what no longer serves me (like social media), I discover new spaces, and new ways to sit to give my spirit what it needs.
Tavra. (that's all)
If you are reading this, there is a strong probability you have thought about the impact of social media upon your life. You might have even entertained thoughts of leaving it all, deleting accounts and doing something different with your time.
I have entertained these thoughts for about a year and a half now, and the thoughts turned into research and nudgings from my heart added into the mix, and then a book came into my iBooks, and just like that, I made a hard and firm decision. I picked dates, and with love, I started to plan my exit.
The overriding tone that I have been holding for myself is that of gentleness. Once I made the decision, I wanted to be sure to be as gentle as I can be with myself in this extraction process, as after all, I have been part of my facebook community for eleven years now.
Part of my strategy to honor my spirit in this endeavor is to leave in stages, for example, I left snapchat almost right away, and am planning on leaving facebook and instagram by November 25th. I will give myself until December 24th to figure out my exit from twitter, which might be keeping the account but not posting, and then re-evaluating it in two years, to see if I need to rejoin the twitter community. Or, it might just take me until Dec. 24 to really let it go. I am at peace with not knowing at this point, as my focus has been on the other two, the "big ones".
You can see in the image above a photo of my new physical address book that has been created from this process. Some of my fears in leaving fb and instagram have included, "What about all your friends and relatives, far and wide? How will they know to find you?" and "You are a full-time artist, how will people know to find out about your new work and past work?" and "What about fb invites to gatherings of friends and events?" and so on, many many thoughts presenting arguments for me to change course.
Yet I am pressing on. Letting people know with as much grace and love that I can that I am making a choice to leave, because it is the best choice for me, right now. I am allowing myself to re-evaluate after two years, letting those know that there could always be a re-entry point, if after two years it seems like it needs to happen. I am reaching out to everyone to send me their snail mail addresses, if they feel so moved. Even if they haven't met me in person yet. And I have been searching for family that I know I want to stay connected to, so that I can get their contact information so we can know how to stay in touch.
And the addresses have been pouring in, and each one that is offered, I diligently and lovingly pen the names of my connections into my physical book, the one you see above. Each message sends a pocket of love, of a desire to stay connected, to be a friend, to remain connected. These waves of love keep hitting me, and I feel the hopes of these very real living beings, hoping to possibly get a piece of paper with writing on it from me, and perhaps they will send them back.
Like a message in a bottle, are these words reaching you, now reading this?
I am getting ready to let go of spaces where I have spent time expressing myself, connecting, sharing, contemplating. And in that letting go, I find myself here. This blog is my new portal on the internet. A place to be found.
Thank you for finding me here. I strive to be my authentic self, keeping the fire going. Oh, and as for the caribou golden curry? It turned out very good, made with smoked caribou from a Potlatch in Minto. Just what I needed to reflect, write and share.
Above is a photo of me and Paula Larke, an artist of whom I deeply respect and admire. As part of the training, I was honored to witness her perform not once, but twice. Her work, her presence and her love for her audiences impacted me and my artistic processes in ways that which I do not yet have the words.
I was recently blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the 2019 cohort of the Art Equity National Facilitator Training, which was held over two sessions in Atlanta, Georgia. I recently got back from the second and final session, and now I am considered to be an Art Equity Alumni, which connects me to a larger network of previous cohorts. Before too much time passes after my experience, I wanted to share a few brief reflections on my overall experience of being part of the training.
To give some context, as an artist, when I think about approaching a new piece of work, I start from the end feeling, the feeling that I want my audience to walk out of the door with when they are leaving the venue. Everything for me in my process begins with this feeling at the end, and from this understanding, I work my way from the beginning towards that feeling.
I wanted to share the above, because the end result of my deep participation in the Art Equity National Facilitation was one of the most transformational of my life. I went through a journey that engaged me to my core and challenged me to dig much deeper into my healing process.
At the end, I felt a sense of connection and community, of the promise of more connection and more conversations that push towards growth. I do have to admit at one point I had to make a personal choice. To either look into the mirror and see myself exactly where I was at and make hard and necessary healing changes, or to not. It was not easy, and I am still learning from the entire experience, still healing, making adjustments and growing. I am very grateful for the entire Art Equity National Facilitator experience, all of the uncomfortable moments that pushed and challenged me, and all of the new friendships and new pathways in my mind that were opened up from the experience.
Thank you to the facilitators that held space for our 2019 cohort. And thank you to my fellow cohort members. We did it!
Quyanaqpak. (thank you very big)
I have made a dramatic decision in my life recently. I have decided to unplug, delete, withdrawal from all of my social media accounts, with the end date of November 25, 2019. This decision came to me over about a year in time of thinking, doing research and personal reflection. This is a big experiment in my life, one that I intend to keep for at least two years. After two years of absence, I may re-evaluate. I am keeping a relationship with you tube, but in that relationship I will vow not to look at the comments of any of the videos that I watch and I will monitor how I access videos on youTube. It is a process.
Right now, I am reaching out on facebook, snapchat and instagram, giving people a "heads up" of my departure. I am also deliberately keeping an old fashioned address book, methodically writing down the physical addresses, emails, phone numbers and sometimes birthdays of those that I want to keep in touch with, or those who want to keep in touch with me. One idea I have around keeping physical addresses is picking a few people from the book and sending them a postcard from one of my travels. Another is to craft an end-of-the-year letter, or perhaps a beginning-of-the-year letter to all the folks in my address book. Also, when I have my next show opening or performance, one idea is to send notice through snail mail and perhaps email, depending on the individuals in my network.
I am also committed to post more here, on my blog, where you are reading right now. I feel that on my blog, I can give more context to my thoughts, ideas, movements, reflections. It will be my own way of keeping people who are interested in what I am doing "in the loop" of my personal and artistic journeys. A one-stop place for audio, video, photos and writing.
My biggest internal resistance so far is letting go of twitter. I have built a strong relationship to the medium, having developed a way of communicating there that is unique and authentic to me and my voice, by creating twitter poems. Because of my biggest relationship to twitter and my reluctance to leave, I will give myself until December 24th, 2019 to extract myself from that social medium. I need to slowly extract all of my poems, document them and find ways to point my followers to this blog medium.
I am so excited about this transition. I am looking forward to keeping a more regular blog, as a way to share who I am and who I am becoming. Thank you for coming along with me for this journey.
I am writing this from Manndalen, Norway, home of the Riddu Riddu festival! Riddu Riddu is an Indigenous music festival in the northern part of Norway. I performed as AKU-MATU here last year as part of the Alaskan Native contingent as Alaskan Natives were the "Northern Peoples of the Year" in 2017.
This year, I have returned as part of a first ever Inuit Circumpolar Arctic Hip-Hop Collaboration. We are creating new music that will be released as mp3's and also on vinyl in 2018. It is an exciting collaboration, led by Greenlandic beatmaker and producer, Aqqalu Berthelsen.
It is beautiful here in Manndalen. We as a collaborative team arrived to the festival to work on our collaborations. There are also hip-hop dancers here that will be part of the festival and part of the collaboration.
After Manndalen, I will travel to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to do the initial research for "Everybody Will Be A Millionaire!" which is a collaboration between myself and Iñupiaq photographer Brian Adams. I am nervous about the heat, about being in 106 degree fahrenheit temperatures for six days in a row.
I hope to sit on a camel. I am excited to be in a different part of the world.
I recently spent almost three weeks in Kaktovik, my traditional homelands. I had no internet access while there, which was great in many ways. It was so good to be home. Now, I travelled halfway across the world to be in the Arctic again, with Inuit from different places in the Arctic. Collaborating, creating new music.
I highly recommend visiting the Riddu Riddu festival. It was a longtime dream come true to be able to perform here last year, and a big honor to return again so soon as part of a collaborative team.
Allison Akootchook Warden