James Kivetoruk Moses: Master Artist, opens 2021

by | Jun 25, 2020 | Coe Collaborations, Exhibitions

James Kivetoruk Moses (1903-1981) was a self-taught Inupiaq painter who created profoundly perceptive narrative works about the Seward Peninsula region of northern Alaska and its Indigenous peoples, histories, and environment. His paintings are direct and optimistic, providing rare glimpses of Alaskan Native life of the early and mid-twentieth century, as modern technology increasingly encroached upon traditional lifestyles and subsistence hunting.

In 1954, when injuries from an airplane crash ended his hunting days, Moses started a new career by teaching himself to paint. Through his work, he was able to retain and share his life as a fur-trapper and subsistence hunter. With a passion for accuracy, his pencil, watercolor, and ink paintings portray landscapes, animals, and people in intimate detail. Moses painted community and historical events, forming a vast remembering of Inupiaq traditions and oral narratives, people, historic events, and details about his own hunting days.

The Coe is pleased to announce that in summer 2021, we will open the first James Kivetoruk Moses solo exhibition. The exhibition will introduce to the public a full spectrum of Kivetoruk Moses’s work, much of which has never been previously exhibited.

By partnering with Alaska Natives near and around Nome, Moses’ home town, the exhibition experience will be enriched by the inclusion of community member interpretations and stories. The centering of Native voice in this exhibition will reconnect these incredible works to their origin, while at the same time provide visitors a meaningful view into the lived experiences which Moses so eloquently captured.

In addition to the Coe Center’s onsite installation, the exhibition will also be online via the Coe Center’s website. There will be a small accompanying printed catalog, which includes a selection of the works with expanded narratives.

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.


Above all works by James Kivetoruck Moses (Inupiaq)
Untitled [Man with a sled, dog, and reindeer], n.d. Colored pencil, watercolor, and ink, 11.5 x 8 in. Private Collection
Old Woman with Cane in Kuspuk, n.d. Colored pencil, watercolor, and ink, 8 x 12 in. Private Collection
Untitled, n.d. Colored pencil, watercolor, and ink, 12 x 9 in. Private Collection

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