Drew Michael

Drew Michael

Drew Michael was born in Bethel, Alaska in 1984. Drew and his twin brother David were adopted by a non-native family and moved to Eagle River, AK. With his new adoptive family, Drew was able to experience a life filled with hope, love, and joy. As well, his adoptive parents were dedicated to retaining his ties to his rich Yup’ik and Inupiaq heritage.

Growing up in two contrasting cultures, native and non-native, Drew came to understand the positive aspects of each. His native culture has helped him understand the importance of the spiritual world and the wisdom of watching and listening. Drew believes that native people have a unique type of smile, which is genuine, innocent, and loving. The white world offered many opportunities, most importantly being a part of school systems that taught him how to get along in a world run by Western culture, including very different concepts of time and money.

Drew started learning carving at age 13, learning from archeologist Bob Shaw, printmaker Joe Senungetuk, and contemporary Athabascan mask-maker, Kathleen Carlo. As Drew practiced his craft and developed his own style, he also studied the craftsmanship of works by master carvers and spent many hours comparing others works with his own designs and process, searching for his own niche.  He applied research to his carvings, using trial & error to grow his work into what it is today. In 2012, Drew made the commitment to pursue art full time, and today his works can be found in the permanent collections of the Alaska State Museum, Anchorage Museum and the Sheldon Jackson Museum.

Drew focuses on how masks were originally used by Yup’ik people, for healing and telling stories of things unseen. Drew’s work incorporates healing practices of the Yup’ik people and religious icons of European Christianity. The artist hopes to encourage people to find healing in ways that bring about balance in much the same way he has used these practices to find balance in his own life.

“My art is deeply influenced by the people and events I have encountered in my life. My experiences have taught me to use carving as a form of expression in order to draw understanding and compassion from within.” – Drew Michael

Read the exhibition catalog for the artist’s 2016 solo show:


Learn more about the artist with these videos: