With a $10,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation the Alutiiq Museum has purchased painting by two Alaskan artists, according to a release from the museum. They are “St. Katherine of Karluk,” an oil on canvas by Linda Infante Lyons of Anchorage, and “Kodiak Wildflower Suite,” by Cathy Lee Cordy of Kodiak, a series of paintings featuring Kodiak’s flowering plants.
Both purchases are recent creations by Native artists and will be incorporated into future exhibits.
Linda Infante Lyons painted “St. Katherine of Karluk” to honor her great-grandmother, Katherine Reft. Lyons modeled the painting after a Russian Orthodox icon, substituting Alutiiq imagery. It shows Katherine holding a seal, the pair posed as Madonna and child. Yet the figures are uniquely Alutiiq. Katherine wears an Alutiiq parka and her golden halo features Alutiiq mask attachments. The seal holds a cow parsnip flower, a local
medicinal plant. The painting recasts imagery from Western society and suggests the essential relationship between Alutiiq people and the natural word.
“Kodiak Wildflower Suite” is a set of 10 oil on panel paintings that provide intimate, detailed portraits of Kodiak’s flowing plants. The set depicts plants important to Alutiiq subsistence and medicinal practices — chocolate lily, lupine, fireweed, salmonberry and others.
Cathy Cordry, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Nation, is a sewer and graphic artists. She created the paintings in her Kodiak studio.
“My aim as an artist is more than just capturing and image. Rather, I want to inspire other to be good stewards of our earth, spur them to explore our natural environment, and remind them of the joy to be found in wandering this planet we inhabit,” Cordry said.
Funding for the purchases comes from the Art Acquisition Fund, a grant program established by the Rasmuson Foundation in 2003 to support the development of contemporary art collections in Alaska museums. Since the fund’s inception, the Alutiiq Museum has received $160,778.50 to purchase 119 works by 34 different artists.
“The fund provides an unusual opportunity for small institutions like the Alutiiq Museum,” said Alutiiq Museum executive director April Laktonen Counceller. “We don’t have a budget to buy items for our collections. The art acquisition fund helps us collect purposefully, to build a collection of contemporary works reflects the
Alutiiq world today. And it has the added benefit of supporting artists and encouraging and promoting their work.”