Allison Akootchook Warden
I was fortunate to be raised surrounded by Iñupiaq Elders that moved and carried with them a specific worldview. I strive to re-create their signals that they transmitted into me through the genres of art that are most effective for getting the message/feeling across to an audience. I create from a space of transmission, as I am sending a signal towards future generations, as I am simultaneously in conversation with my Elders that sewed together my young psyche. In all that I do, I am a representation of my Ancestors. Their intelligence, humor, love, spirit, their beliefs and ways of engaging with the world is what I carry forward through my art. I work through the genres of installation, poetry, music, dance, creative writing, visual art, media arts, theatre, and performance art. All of the genres I work through can be enveloped under the traditional arts umbrella, because we as Iñupiaq people have always been contemporary and cutting edge. I see the genres of art as tools around my belt that have different strengths and qualities to effect a message or evoke a feeling with an audience. As I work through different genres, I assess impact on audiences. Is it possible for me to write a poem that is as powerful as my body, dripping with sweat and tears in front of an audience of hundreds of people, expressing a message through the medium of performance art? Can a piece of visual art that I create make someone laugh or feel joy in the same way that a song that I create can? As I have been performing since I was a child, I know that an in-person performance delivered by me can have great effect on an audience. As an artist, I have been working through film, visual art, poetry, creative writing, sound recordings and installation to challenge myself to impact audiences just as powerfully but without my physical sweating teary-eyed body being in the same space for the same effect. What drives me to test these artistic hypothesis is the hope of inspiring another artist to also push the boundaries of what they think is possible in the ways of cultural transmission towards the future generations. My work is for all human beings, a way of sharing the specific culture that I was fortunate to be born and raised into.
Featured image: AKU-MATU at Riddu Riddu as part of the Circumpolar Hip-Hop Collab, 2019. Photo credit unknown.