First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 21

belief, the faith, that they will do the same for you in time. My current project with the Anchorage Museum, Object Is, embodies this same notion as the potlatch. In the past, museums have endeavored to preserve, protect, and pass on history through objects in museum collections. Today we want to recognize the knowledge these objects hold by changing how we view the purpose of each object. Instead of living beyond our lives within the museum, we want them to live in our lives as conduits for exchange of information, language, and the opportunities to connect and expand one’s community. A collaborative team that included the Anchorage Museum and Elders from Gulkana, Tazlina, and Glennallen selected 22 objects to travel to each community. The Anchorage Museum held a temporary exhibition of the objects followed by a gath- ering. At the exhibition the Elders told stories relating to the objects, then we hosted a meal and held a community workshop on the hnaa atsesi, the customary sewing bag. An important aspect of Object Is was introducing ourselves and intentions to the community by asking what we could provide, in the notion of potlatch, to them. They responded with a meal and workshop. At the Anchorage Museum, we decided that our collaboration would be one of true co-labor, embracing a decolonial approach to both sharing and gaining knowledge. Our efforts in commit- ting to the traveling of objects, the hosting of a communal meal, and the facilitation of the workshop reflects and honors the needs and goals of both the museum and community. above Janet Northey showing participant Anna Bell-hand (Ahtna Athabascan) and Elder Virginia Pete (Ahtna Athabascan) an Athabascan dentalium necklace. Photo: Melissa Shaginoff. opposite, left Rapper Bishop Slice (Athabascan-Mestizo), center, at fish camp near his ancestral village of Dot Lake, Alaska, with friend Jacob Dennis (left) and cousin Chris Charles (both Athabascan). Photo: Mike Conti. opposite, right Amber Webb (Yup’ik) sharing White Qaspeq at Portugal. The Man concert. Photo: Melissa Shaginoff. SPRING 2019 | 19