Art Exhibit Features Relationship Between Alaskans and Salmon

Deborah Bitanga. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A multimedia art exhibit Thursday night encouraged discussion about the relationships between Alaskans and salmon.

The Baranov Museum displayed the locally-made photographs and art pieces via projector.

Local Deborah Bitanga was among the featured artists. She completed her drawing as part of Washington University’s Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program.

She says she chose to depict her family’s relationship with Kodiak canneries.

“In a way, I connected my life story with the salmon cycle, but we know that the salmon cycle ends with a salmon coming back and its carcass enriching the place that it was born in, but in my family, a salmon’s life cycle ends at the cannery.”

She says both her father and mother have worked at canneries in the past.

Her father still does, and she recalls childhood memories of her father’s busy work schedule.

“‘Cause I was 6, and I remember him saying 10 hours, 16 hours, and he works the night shift too, so that is what I remember.”

Bitanga describes a certain stigma surrounding cannery work.

“There’s actually value in the work that they do too, and I have conversations with high school students who have the experience. I never had. I never went because my mom said do not go there, it’s hard, but I hear high school students saying, Deborah, I don’t want to put that in my resume. So, there’s this thing of why?”

Bitanga was only one of the artists to display her work last night, and the event also served as a last chance to take a look at Kodiak’s Westside Stories exhibit, which focused on the history and culture of Kodiak’s west side, from its fishermen to its processors.

Tune into KMXT Monday to hear more sounds and voices from that night.

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