"I am constantly competing with myself for something new. I enjoy the story telling in the work celebrating the Yup'ik Dance, the environment, the animals, fish, birds, dreams, visions and some ancestral stories. My hope is that children will see the work with a new perspecitve. But, I'm only good as my last piece," Atsaq
Atsaq is a Yup'ik name given to John Oscar. Meaning "berry" for all type of edible berries. His early years started in the traditional village of Tununak.
At eleven-years he was making illustrations at the request of his mother
Unangik Jane Oscar. Unangik would place the animals, birds and hunting scenes and embroider them onto her beautiful seagrass baskets.
His influences also came from hunting, gathering, camping, and checking his fathers net with a qayaq upriver. He watched his elders carve wood into fish traps and harpoons.
Oscar is a renowned artist of Alaskan Native American descent. He specializes in creating exquisite 3-dimensional mixed media wall paintings, which are carved with both natural and contemporary materials. His work is deeply rooted in the traditions of the Yup’ik Culture in Alaska.
In addition to his wall paintings, Oscar’s portfolio includes mask carvings, notable for their eyes that seem to follow the viewer from every angle. He also crafts beautiful apparel, designs, and accessories that add a touch of style to any collection. His unique blend of traditional and modern aesthetics sets his artwork apart, making it a valuable addition to any art collection.
With great respect, thank you to all the people featured in this movie.
I see many relatives I danced with, in a real Qas'gi, a communal sod house.
Such beautiful people, our Elders. The last Real Yup'ik who actually lived directly off the lands and waters before plywood houses. I remember some families living in them. In the same scene as the men working on the Qasgiq, I see the very qayaq I used to check on the fishnet upriver.
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I am happy with great admiration and respect to have known these real Yup'ik, Cup'ig and Inupiaq gentlemen who shared ancestral wisdom and knowledge through their fine art.
University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Studied briefly under Professor Ronald Senungetuk, founder and Director of the Alaska Native Arts Program at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. We met with Elder master carvers in Bethel. Among them were Kay Hendrickson, Nicholas Charles, and Qussauyaq "Uncle John", my father-in-law. Their work can be seen at the Yupiiit Piciryarait Cultural Center in Bethel, Alaska.