Setnet and Cannery Stories From Kodiak’s West Side Star at Baranov Museum

A look into the West Side exhibit. Courtesy of the Baranov Museum
A look into the West Side exhibit. Courtesy of the Baranov Museum

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Friday, the Baranov Museum opens its exhibit on West Side Stories, a multimedia project which focuses on cannery and set netter life and history on Kodiak’s west side.

Anjuli Grantham, Baranov Museum curator of collections and exhibits, is behind the initiative and says she traveled all along the west side as part of the project. Her work involved recording oral histories with people in the fishing industry, collaborating with a local photographer, and putting together story kits.

“We sent out information to all of the different setnet sites on the West Side and to canneries and to bush residents, and over the course of last summer, they received journals with prompts for writing west side stories, art materials for creating their own salmon can label that’s specific to their site and other projects so that they could be engaged even if I wasn’t able to go out there and speak to them directly.”

Grantham says it all culminates in the exhibit Friday, and says it’s been a compelling and personal project for her, in large part because she grew up fishing with her family in Uganik.

“It was just such a heartwarming experience to be welcomed into people’s homes and fish camps, to be able to hear the stories of their lives. It’s a really powerful medium, oral history, and to have it as part of my job for the last year, to be able to record the stories that are so important to my own identity has just been really an honor.”

She says the exhibit is set up like a fish camp.

“You’ll get a sense of what it’s like to spend the summer up there just by the environment that you step into and then you’ll be able to read the words of the interview subjects, but then also listen to them because one of the Baranov Museum interns for the project, Alex Painter, created short films where she edited the radio programs that I did for KMXT and added photographs to them.”

Grantham says those are archival photos as well as ones a local photographer took, and together they illustrate the stories people told her about their lives.

You can get a taste of Kodiak’s west side at the Baranov Museum from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

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