I am writing this from the comfort of my beautiful studio at the Djerassi Resident Artist program. I earned a writing residency here and am here from April 5th to May 3rd, 2017. Tonight it was the night for two artists to cook dinner for the other 10 artists and two program assistants. I was one of the cooks, helping to manifest a Pakistani woman's vision of a meal. We laughed, we made a mess, we put love into the food, and the food was a big hit. She is a brilliant painter and we were able to get to know one another more through this experience of cooking for such a big group.
On most nights, we have a brilliant chef feeding us. There is so much thought and love put into all the details of creating a supportive environment for the artists here to be productive with their work. Even the land supports the artists, as we are high up in the mountains, with deer that peek through windows and fire stoves that keep us warm. Being from Alaska, I am one who is now known for being quick at starting a fire for the others.
I can feel myself become more of myself as I unwind more and more in the smart and studied comfort and diligence of this place known as Djerassi. A softening of self, an awakening within to the work of my heart.
As I write this, a group of five artists are working together intently to make beignets. We have been wanting to eat desserts, so we are taking the initiative to make a complex one.
I am away from all the distractions of my world. I am here with my work. Work that is overdue, work that has been ignored, work that is calling out to me, work that emerges from the veins within my heart.
24 more days of this incredible experience to go. I feel very blessed. And ready to write.
Welcome to my world.
Welcome to my online journal. A way to share thoughts and information that is longer than a 140 characters. A way to honor my Amau (great-Grandfather), who kept a personal journal. His journal was stolen from him, though. It was made into a book, Ahkiviak. My family still has not gotten his personal journal back, yet hopefully we will someday. As I begin this daily online practice, I think about my Amau, and how he thoughtfully wrote his daily ideas and reflections down. I do this in part for his memory, and in part for my own, a living extension of him, as he and I have the same Iñupiaq name, Akootchook.
I am writing this from inside an airplane, up up in the sky. My Amau loved to travel, as do I. He used to walk hours upon hours in the Arctic to go "get a stick of butter" from the neighboring village in Canada. I am in the process of returning back to Alaska from my trip to Washington, DC for the Native Nations Rise Camp and March. My experience of the camp and march was deeply healing. I made new friends, got to see longtime friends, and left inspired to do more organizing at home, in Alaska.
Now, I am having a long layover in Seattle, where I will meet to work with my longtime collaborator, WD4D. We are working on a music project together. I rap as animals, as an Ancestor. He creates brilliant sonic universes, sampling my traditional music. I feel very honored to know him and work with him for so long.
Once again, welcome to my world. Hope you visit awhile. Quyanaqpak.
Allison Akootchook Warden
An Iñupiaq interdisciplinary artist who also raps under the name AKU-MATU.