Alaska Art History

with an emphasis on representational art




This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "Alaska Art History." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to the articles and essays.

Following the links to Resource Library articles and essays are a listing of museums in the state which have provided materials to Resource Library for this or any other topic.

Listed after Resource Library articles, essays and museums are links to online resources outside the TFAO website. Following these resources is information about offline resources including DVDs, paper-printed books, journals and articles. Our goal is to present complete knowledge relating to this section of Topics in American Art.

TFAO welcomes volunteers to further the broadening of knowledge related to this topic. To learn more about TFAO's many volunteer opportunities please click here. Volunteers are welcome to contribute suggestions for additional content in this catalogue. Please see Catalogue and database management for details.


.(above: James Everett Stuart (1852-1941, Treadwell Mine, 1892, oil on canvas, Alaska State Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)  


Resource Library essays listed by author name in alphabetical order, followed by articles:

Documents and Inventions: Art from the Permanent Collection by David Mollett

Creating the Myths of Alaska: Art from the Permanent Collection; Curator's Statement by Duke Russell

Earthscape: Artists in Alaska's Copper River Delta

Eskimo Drawings

Drawing Shadows to Stone: Photographing North Pacific Peoples, 1897-1902 and Objects of Northern Life

Giinaquq (Like A Face): Sugpiaq Masks of the Kodiak Archipelago

The Lure of Alaska: Paintings, Watercolors, and Graphics from the Permanent Collections

Also see Pacific Coast Painting: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington: 19th-21st Century


Museums and other non-profit sources of Resource Library articles and essays:


(above: Anchorage Museum of History and Art. Photo: © 2004 John Hazeltine


Alaska State Museum

Anchorage Museum of History and Art


Other online information:

Alaska (painters) from Accessed July, 2015.

Alaska Art including biographies, from Anchorage Museum of History [Link from (URL of source) found temporarily unavailable as of 3/1/12 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for your reference]

Alaskan Art and the Sense of Wonder by Kesler Woodward. Accessed July, 2015.

Alaska's Heritage from Alaska Humanities Forum. Accessed July, 2015.

Dear Listener: Works by Nicholas Galanin is a 2018 exhibit at the Heard Museum which says: "The exhibition will explore themes of Indigeneity, the porosity of identity in both Indigenous and American contexts, and reciprocal dialogues therein. Works will inspect the notions of landscape, colonialism, and redress the rampant misappropriation of American Indian aesthetics and visual culture by non-Native individuals, and highlight the artists nimbleness in the reclamation of Indigenous agency." Accessed 7/18

On Arctic Ice: Fred Machetanz is a 2010 exhibit at the Frye Art Museum which says: "Working in the isolated wilderness, Fred Machetanz (1908-2002) produced a body of work that encapsulates the snowcapped mountains and brilliant light of Alaska. On Arctic Ice: Fred Machetanz showcases a selection of stone lithographs produced between 1946 and 1980 that depict the flora, fauna, and people of America's northernmost state." Accessed 3/17

A Sense of Wonder: Alaskan Art (Kesler Woodward) from PBS. Accessed July, 2015.

This Is Not A Silent Movie: Four Contemporary Alaska Native Artists is a 2013 exhibit at the Craft and Folk Art Museum which says: "Through the language of contemporary visual art, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Susie Silook, Da-ka-xeen Mehner, and Nicholas Galanin seek new and distinct ways to speak of tradition and mediate the serious and sometimes ironic conditions of art, identity, and history in the late 20th and early 21st century. Though each artist's work is rooted in a lifelong immersion in their respective Alaska Native craft traditions, their multi-media contemporary installations dissolve the boundaries between contemporary and traditional arts." Accessed 2/17


(above: Unknown artist, Walrus tusk engraved with cribbage board and pictures of whale hunting scene, ivory, 19th century. 22 3/4 x 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches. Private Collection. Tusk is shown on a mid-twentieth century Navajo blanket)


(above: Unknown artist, Verso, Walrus tusk engraved with cribbage board and pictures of whale hunting scene, ivory, 19th century. 22 3/4 x 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches. Private Collection. Tusk is shown on a mid-twentieth century Navajo blanket)


(above: Unknown artist, Side view, Walrus tusk engraved with cribbage board and pictures of whale hunting scene, ivory, 19th century. 22 3/4 x 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches. Private Collection. Tusk is shown on a mid-twentieth century Navajo blanket)


Books, listed by year of publication, with most recently published book listed first:

Eskimo Drawings, by Suzi Jones. 208 pages. Publisher: Anchorage Museum of History and Art (February 15, 2008). ISBN-10: 1885267053. ISBN-13: 978-1885267054. Product Description: "Originally published in conjunction with a 2003 exhibition organized by the Anchorage Museum of History and Art and co-curated by Suzi Jones and Walter Van Horn, Eskimo Drawings marks the first time that Alaska Eskimo artwork has been the exclusive subject of a major exhibition and publication. Accompanied by full-color illustrations, as well as black-and-white photographic reproductions, Eskimo Drawings features only a few works that have ever been exhibited previously while showcasing the work of previously undiscovered Eskimo artists. Covering topics as diverse as artistic considerations in the Eskimo graphic arts and an analysis of the work of Happy Jack and Guy Kakarook, this remarkable volume includes contributions by Susan W. Fair, Russell Hartman, Herbert O. Anungazuk, Steve Henrikson, Molly Lee, Mary Jane Anuqsraaq Melovidov, Patrick Minock, David Mollett, Dorothy Jean Ray, Susie Silook, Birgitte Sonne, and David P. Sweeney. Not to be missed by any art historian with an interest in Alaska Eskimo and Alaska Native art, this fascinating and fully illustrated collection is an unsurpassed survey of the field." (courtesy of

Alaska's Arts, Crafts & Collectibles, by Ann F. Chandonnet. 214 pages. Todd Communications (March 1, 1998). ISBN -10: 0966299906 ISBN-13: 978-0966299908.Product Description: "What is the difference between walrus ivory and elephant ivory? What's the relationship between beach grass and Attu baskets, or California abalone and Tlingit masks? Only Alaska's Arts, Crafts & Collectibles supplies answers to these questions-and many more. From Aleut baskets to bentwood hunting hats to button blankets and dentalia, this guide to genuine Alaska collectibles is indispensable to the discerning collector. The body of the book is called Materials, Art Forms, Motifs, and runs from Abalone to Yo-yo (Eskimo) through a long alphabet, telling how native materials are used, what they are made into, and how and why. This book is good for a read-through before going to Alaska, then can serve as a reference book on Alaskan art forms and materials." text courtesy of

Alaska Artists: Biographical Information Available at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art., By Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Anchorage Municipal Libraries. Published by Anchorage Museum of History and Art : Anchorage Municipal Libraries, 1995

Painting in the North: Alaskan Art in the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, By Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Kesler E. Woodward. Published by Anchorage Museum of History and Art, 1993. Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized Nov 12, 2007. 159 pages. Source: Google Books

Works Progress Administration's Alaska Art Project, 1937: a retrospective exhibition, By Lynn K. Binek, Karl Eugene Fortess, Merlin F. Pollock, Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Alaska State Museum, Alaska State Museum, University of Alaska Museum, University of Alaska Museum, Anchorage Museum of History and Art. Published by Anchorage Museum of History and Art, 1987. Exhibition at Anchorage Museum of History and Art, May 10-Aug. 31, 1987, University of Alaska Museum, Oct. 31-Dec. 13, 1987 and Alaska State Museum Jan. 28-Mar. 3, 1988. 47 pages. Source: Google Books

TFAO's Distinguished Artists catalogue provides online access to biographical information for artists associated with this state. Also, Search Resource Library for online articles and essays concerning both individual artists associated with this state's history and the history of art centers and museums in this state. Resource Library articles and essays devoted to individual artists and institutions are not listed on this page.

Do you know of additional sources whether online or paper-printed? TFAO welcomes your suggestions. Please send them to:


(above: Creek Street, Ketchikan, 2015, Photo: John Hazeltine)

Return to Individual States Art History Project


*Tag for expired US copyright of object image:

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