James Kivetoruk Moses (Inupiaq), Cape Espenberg Wedding, mixed media on card stock, nd. 13 x 18 in. Private Collection
The Coe Center for the Arts presents an intimate selection of works by mid-century artist James Kivetoruk Moses (Inupiaq). The works are a selection of pieces to be included in the online exhibition Conversations of Ourselves: An Indigenous survey of James Kivetoruk Moses, representing Kiverotuk Moses’ influence as both a documenter and creator of images of Inupiaq life. The online exhibition will be up by the end of February 2022.
James Kivetoruk Moses was born in 1903 in Cape Espenberg, Alaska. He spent the first half of his life as a subsistence hunter, but after a debilitating airplane crash in 1953 left him unable to continue hunting, Kivetoruk Moses embarked on a second life as an artist. By this point, there was a relatively consistent market for Native Alaskan art through the comings and goings of tourists and travelers to this far northeastern region. Kivetoruk Moses drafted incredibly detailed images of life in the region (both real and fantasied). Through his scenes of ice tundras, animals, Siberian and Inupiat individuals, hunting, dancing, engaging in challenges, feats, and instructive stories of mythical and powerful beings, Kivetoruk Moses envisioned a world in which, in many ways, he longed for after his debilitating injuries.
Due to COVID, we ask that you call ahead to schedule an appointment. This selection of works will be on view at the Coe Center through February 25.
The entire project is a collaboration between the Coe, project leader Melissa Shaginoff (Ahtna and Paiute), and Alaska Indigenous artists, historians, linguists, and culture bearers to share their lived experiences through Kivetoruk Moses’ depictions of Inupiaq life. Although the in-person exhibition comes down at the end of February, the online exhibition will live on as an ongoing conversation-starting within Kivetoruk Moses’s world.
This exhibition is supported by a $20,000 National Endowment for Arts Art Works grant and is one of 1015 grants nationwide, and one of twelve in the state of New Mexico. Additional support for this project comes from an anonymous donor.