Corcoran to Host Exhibition Examining Alaskan Identity Through The Lens of Colonization

November 28, 2016

Joel Isaak, Łuqa’ ch’k’ezdelghayi Visions of Summer

Joel Isaak, "Łuqa’ ch’k’ezdelghayi Visions of Summer," digital loop of video behind fish skin screen, sound 5 minutes, 2016

This February, the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design will welcome Decolonizing Alaska, a multimedia visual art exhibit featuring contemporary artists exploring and responding to Alaska’s history of colonization and its emerging influence on sustainability, both environmental and cultural.

“As the world’s attention shifts to the shrinking polar ice cap and the future of our planet, Alaska’s place in the world has moved from the fringe to the center,” Curator Asia Freeman said. “Concerns about climate change and cultural survival resulting from colonization have pushed Alaska to the forefront of global conversations." 

A collaboration of 30 diverse native and non-native Alaskan artists, Decolonizing Alaska introduces new ideas around Alaskan culture by connecting endangered traditions with contemporary identity constructs. Artists move beyond stereotypical ideas of dogsleds and Eskimos and inspire conversation around self-definition and the power to express ideas about identity separate from those that permeate popular culture.

“There has never been a more important time to talk about native Alaskan histories and narratives, which have otherwise remained unseen, hidden or overlooked,” said Corcoran School Director Sanjit Sethi. “Our current socio-political climate has created a space where public vitriol, castigation, scrutiny and marginalizing of ‘the other’ have picked up a dangerous degree of momentum. A true response to these socio-political conditions comes not only from social media and traditional forms of protest, but also from the thoughtful investment of diverse, creative practitioners.”

Decolonizing Alaska will run February 3–March 18 at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University, located at 500 17th St. NW, Washington, DC 20006. An opening reception that is free and open to the public will be held on Friday, Feb. 3 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 
Stay tuned for more information on upcoming events and programming that will accompany the exhibition.
Decolonizing Alaska is sponsored by Bunnell Street Arts Center, curated by Asia Freeman and supported in part by grants from ArtWorks, the CIRI Foundation and Rasmuson Foundation with additional support from the exhibit venues and Rasmuson Foundation through the Harper Arts Touring Fund, administered, under contract, by the Alaska State Council on the Arts.
The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at the George Washington University is dedicated to fostering an innovative and groundbreaking school that promotes diversity of thought and experience, addresses critical social issues and educates the next generation of creative cultural citizens.