Mittens needed for art exhibit

Apr 25 2019

Mittens and gloves are needed on loan from the public for an upcoming exhibit at the Yukon Arts Centre Gallery.

They are for an art installation by Alaskan artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs, which will be on display from May 30 to August 24th. The exhibit, titled Goodbye, addresses issues close to the artist's heart, in particular suicide in Indigenous communities in the North. Kelliher-Combs aims to connect community, foster dialogue and promote understanding.

Goodbye is a memorial to those whom have lost their lives to suicide. "This personal and deeply wounding experience has affected nearly every person we know. Our family has lost three uncles and three cousins to suicide," says Kelliher-Combs. Suicides among Alaska's First Nations are three times the rate of the U.S. national average. "Healing is a process that takes a lifetime, and sometimes generations."

"Despite the negative tone and taboo of speaking of these issues the objects themselves are a positive testament to the innovation and perseverance of our cultures. These problems, although challenging, must be voiced in order to transform and promote healing."

Kelliher-Combs is an artist of Iñupiaq from the North Slope of Alaska, Athabascan and German and Irish descent. She strives to create work through a contemporary lens that addresses the importance of traditional knowledge and carries cultural traditions and values of her people, including respect for land, animals, sea and fellow humans. Her experience with traditional women’s work has taught her to appreciate the intimacy of intergenerational knowledge and material histories. She draws from historical, familial, and cultural symbolism to form imagery that speaks about abuse, marginalization and the historical and contemporary struggles of Indigenous peoples.

Kelliher-Combs received a BFA from University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and an MFA from Arizona State University. She is a recipient of the Anchorage Cultural Council’s Mayor’s Awards for the Arts, the State of Alaska Governor’s Award for the Arts, Rasmuson Foundation Fellowship, Eiteljorg Fellowship, Native Arts and Cultures Artist Fellowship, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s Painters and Sculptors Grant.

Her work can be found in numerous private and public collections including the National Museum of the American Indian, Anchorage Museum, Eiteljorg Museum, British Royal Museum, Institute of American Indian Art Museum of Contemporary Native Art, and Alaska State Museum.

The artist is asking the public to please consider lending traditional and modern mittens or gloves to the exhibition.

Contact Mary Bradshaw by email or the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office for more information.