Alutiiq Museum to publish coffee table book of Native art

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The Alutiiq Museum received a grant for $144,070 from the Institute for Museum and Library Services to develop a book of modern Native art. Museum staff said the book will include over 200 pieces and feature dozens of Indigenous artists.

Amy Steffian is the chief curator of the Alutiiq Museum; she said the goal is to show that Alutiiq tradition is a living culture, expressed in many different ways. 

The Alutiiq Museum on a cloudy day, May 31, 2023. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

“The book looks at the contemporary art collections from the Kodiak History Museum and the Alutiiq Museum – we’re going to combine our collections to show artwork that’s been made since about the mid 1980s,” she said. “That’s about when the heritage movement started, and that’s when there’s an explosion in contemporary art production.” 

The hardcover book will have images of artifacts and feature essays about the art and biographies for artists. Museum staff plan for it to be a coffee table-styled book up to 300 pages thick. 

The book will feature artists from Kodiak and others with Alutiiq roots. Steffian said they will feature both traditional pieces like baleen carvings and masks, as well as western pieces made by indigenous artists. 

“They’re quite diverse – they range from everything from skin sewing and things like weaving and carvings to more western art forms like oil paintings, for example,” she said. 

Some of the grant funding will go towards a first printing of 1000 copies to be distributed around Kodiak for free. Steffian said the ultimate goal is to share the book with as many people as possible. 

“Our partner at the Kodiak History Museum will have a number of copies to share, we’ll give them to Tribes and corporations and schools,” Steffian said. “We also then will have a number of copies available for free public distribution if people want to come to the museum and pick one up.” 

She said they’ll likely print more copies to sell at their store after the first thousand are gone. The museum will also have an e-book on their website for the public to access for free. 

The grant gives the museum a deadline to complete the project within three years, but staff hope to publish in the next two.

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