The Alaska Native Sisterhood Association – or ANSA – wrapped a three-day Native art class for Wrangell’s kids Aug. 3. About 20 kids gathered to be taught the traditional art form known as formline.
Formline is the art of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes of Southeast
Alaska. Ron Fairbanks, an art teacher in Craig, taught the class.
“They’re fun to work with. I just had a little guy come up to me now and say this has been the funnest three days of my life. I just thought that was awesome. So it’s been really good,” Fairbanks said.
They used formline’s shapes known as ovoids and trigons, arranged in spatially conscious ways to depict salmon heads, bears, eagles and other wildlife.
Aleah is 14 years old and her piece used thick red and black painted lines depicting an eagle hovering above a bear.
“I did an eagle and a bear head and added other stuff onto it,” Aleah said.
Traditionally they would be painted on a canoe paddle or clothing. But, this time it’s on a skateboard.
“I really enjoyed that medium of putting artwork on something you could ride, something contemporary, something new and can engage the kids with it,” said Fairbanks. “It really seems to hook them as a fun way to put formline on something you can use.”
Tis Peterman of ANSA said the goal of these grant-funded classes is to engage kids in Native art and culture.
“In fact, one of our students went to the dentist this morning and they wanted to buy his skateboard, and it’s not even finished yet,” said Peterman.
Peterman said ANSA has put on other classes such as skin sewing and beading. It has one more month of funding to put on another class for kids. Peterman said they are still looking for ideas.