Perry Eaton

Perry Eaton

Artist Statement

Having been an artist all my life, working in several mediums, but most notably black and white photography and wood sculpture, I find myself total absorbed in the expression of my Alaska Native identity. I carve traditionally based Sugpiaq Alutiiq masks. Their form and shape are deeply rooted in the rich material culture of Kodiak Island and for me, they are a celebration of belonging, producing a deep sense of pride in being Sugpiaq. The masks have proven to be a means and method of transformation and as an artist they give me license to move and change time, place, being and even worlds.

I take great inspiration from everyday life and the rich mix of emotions that I have experienced throughout my lifetime. Simple things like getting along, self-perception, gender relationships and nature’s cycles are all subjects I explore. In addition, Sugpiaq legends, beliefs and stories serve as a never-ending inspiration for work.

I produce my work from a variety of woods and materials but my preference in wood is white spruce. The best wood comes from the stump where the grain flares and produces a rich and unpredictable pattern moving in all directions. My tools are straightforward: gouges, crooked knives, sandpaper, oil paints and brushes and like my ancestors, I use the best available. The average mask might take several weeks and on occasion, months to produce.