Alutiiq Museum releases book on Alutiiq art

Petroglyphs on Afognak Island. (Photo courtesy of Alutiiq Museum)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alutiiq Museum released a book about two-dimensional art this week.

“Igaruacirpet—Our Way of Making Designs” covers Alutiiq art from pre-history up until the modern era, and it includes body art, painting, and carvings in rock.

Amy Steffian, chief curator at the Alutiiq Museum, says the circle is one common shape found in traditional Alutiiq art.

“And a circle is an image that’s both a symbol of the universe – the universe in Alutiiq cosmology is round – oftentimes the circle is also a symbol of vision, of the eye. Sometimes in Alutiiq art, you see a circle with a dot in the center and that is both a symbol of the structure of the universe with multiple round layers and of vision and awareness.”

She says blue was a popular color.

“One thing we consider is how blue is a color traditionally used on masks and on hunting gear and we explore why that is and it has to do with the connection between blue and the supernatural world. Traditionally, in Alutiiq heritage, blue is the color associated with spiritual life.”

The book consists of six chapters and over 340 photographs.

Steffian says it’s funded through the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Munartet project, a partnership of the Kodiak Island Borough School District, Alutiiq Museum, Kodiak Arts Council, and Kodiak College. The project focuses on teaching through culture and art.

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