Lucky me!

I am a very lucky woman. I belong to a family of artists. Hence, my decor includes beautiful gifts.  There is nothing better than knowing that someone has given you something that is an integral part of themselves.

From my mother, Gert Svarny, an alabaster scupture.
From my mother, Gert Svarny, an alabaster scupture, "The Storyteller".

My friend, also an artist, just commented the other day – “You have a studio available to you right next door, and you aren’t there EVERYDAY???”  Well, I promised my mother, after April 30th, when StoryCorps wraps up.

A model iqyax^ made by my husband, Caleb.  He is crazy with the miniature tools!
A model iqyax^ made by my husband, Caleb. He is crazy with the miniature tools!

My mother did something that I also did with my kids, and that my daughter is doing with her son.  She allowed us free rein with art – mainly by providing us with blank paper and a medium.  Allowing young kids to experiment with art, and by this I mean young – as soon as they can sit up – gets those creative impulses pulsing. 

Water is hard to capture, but Alena manages with subtle style.
Water is hard to capture, but Alena manages with subtle style.

I have noticed that the younger the child is when introduced to art as an expression of self, the better equipped they are in allowing themselves to be creative.

Laresa isn't afraid of experimenting with color and style.
Laresa isn't afraid to experiment with color and style.

Living in communities that support their schools is one of the keys to having a heathy population.  I hope to never live in an area where the arts are not offered to the students in a community.  If a community is without an arts program in their school, teachers should play an important role in incorporating art into the other subjects that they teach. 

Made from an ivory tusk, Gert ground ochre to make the paint.
A snuff box, made from an ivory tusk, also showcases how Gert grinds ochre to make her paint.

The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico was “home” to two of my sisters in the 80’s and to one of my daughters after high school in 2000.  

One of my favorite Svarny Hawthorne prints - "Flashbacks".
One of my favorite Svarny Hawthorne prints - "Flashbacks".

I am continually amazed at the multitudes of artists that we have in our community.  Two- and three-dimensional artists, musicians, writers, poets, photographers, wood workers  – you name it – we have it. 

I love the textures that Alena used in "The Octopus".
I love the textures that Alena used in "The Octopus".

Incorporating where you live and who  you are play a huge role in the success of your work.  Just as writers should write what they know, artists should take from their environment and their community values to create.

One of Laresa's assignments, utilizing the environment, culture, and language is one of my favorites.
One of Laresa's assignments, using the environment, culture, & language, is a favorite.


Expression can take all forms.  My oldest sister has a passion for language and a furious ability to champion and protect the environment.   My good friend Jerah can paint a picture with words.   I shouldn’t have been, but I was totally surprised when I found out my kids had been composing their own music.

Bentwood drum.
A bentwood drum, Caleb.

So…when the storms are bent on keeping you cooped up inside, read about something you don’t know about, learn a new instrument, or pick a medium and have at it.

An invite to an EXTRAVAGANZA and an update on the first and second graders…

We are preparing for the 2nd Annual Chocolate Extravaganza at the Museum of the Aleutians.  The event will be held on Friday evening, February 13.  Tickets are available at the Museum, or from members of the Board of Directors.  Those members are:  Kristine King, Chris Hladick, Denise Rankin, Patty Gregory, and Sharon Svarny-Livingston.  If you are so inclined, bring a chocolate concoction to the extravaganza to show your support, expertise,  and for others to enjoy.   I am bringing a couple of items,  including cherry cordials.   Come mingle with friends, meet new friends, and indulge yourself with all the chocolate you could possibly imagine.  I have heard that there may even be chocolate items for sale that you can take with you to help celebrate Valentine’s Day!  Get those tickets before they are sold out.cherry-cordials

Unangan Program Update

The first and second graders finished up the Unangan design portion of the Unangan After School Program.  practiceThey learned about Unangan design from Gert Svarny and after setting up their design and practicing, they implemented their plans and each created a chaayax, or rattle, made from clams.  Or two, or three.3-chaayax



Both classes were quite large, with over 25 students in each class.   Gert and I would like to thank Pat Ellis, Chet Higa, Mary Downs, and especially Ciera, for all their help.

It was a crazy madhouse at times!!  If you get a chance, visit the elementary school as all of the projects from the Unangan classes are on display in the entrance lobby.

Hope everyone watched and supported Channel 8 during their fundraising auction.

Successful designers.

The third grade class at Eagle’s View Elementary finished up their Unangan design classes on Friday.  They created beautifully designed bentwood hats with the use of traditional Unangan design taught by Gert Svarny.

3 hats with prototype

Whiskers were created using fishing line that was dyed.

They were so diligent in their work that they got to do an extra project on Friday.

Unangan designs were used to create pendants.
Unangan designs were used to create pendants.