Alaska Native art at the state fair tells a story of tradition
Past the food vendors and carnival rides, one will find something unique to this state fair: a collection of booths packed with Alaska Native art dubbed The Gathering Place. There, a dozen or so artists sell their handmade pieces.
Jeremy Lieb, who is also known as Sivaluaq, designs ornamental paintings using ink and reindeer skin. He said each piece tells a story.
“Some of them are extensive stories. Some of them are stories of long ago. Some of them are about my family or me,” Lieb said.
He held up one example that showed a face split in two, with one side dark and the other light. He said it symbolized his recovery from alcoholism.
“Some days, I’d wake up sad, knowing what I had done was wrong. Then I’d get angry at myself for hurting loved ones,” Lieb said. “After I quit drinking, my life became whole and happy.”
He said while the drawing had a deeply personal connection for him, anyone with a troubled past could connect with it.
“It’s for everyone because no one’s perfect,” he said. “We can all change a little for the better.”
Next to Lieb’s booth were several similar ones, each selling artwork in the style of a particular Alaska region or tribe. The Gathering Place is also home to the newly named Dena’ Stage.
Lieb said for centuries, art was a central way for traditions to be passed from one generation to the next.
“We continue to keep it alive, not only though one medium, but several,” he said.
It’s something he’s eager to share with anyone who visits his booth.
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