Lena Amason

Lena Amason

Lena Amason grew up in the village of Port Lions, Alaska. Born to a family of artists, her parents Alvin Amason and Kathy Nelson encouraged her to create art from an early age. Amason draws upon imagery of sea life around Kodiak Island for much of her carvings, paintings, and drawings.

Amason most recently exhibited artwork at the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts and created public art for the Kodiak Public Library in Kodiak, Alaska. Her work has also been exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York with collections in Chateau Musee in Boulogne Sur Mer. France. Amason’s work is included in collections at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alutiiq Museum, the University of Alaska Museum of the North, and the Anchorage Museum.

Amason’s most recent shows include Inspirations (2019), an invitational exhibition curated by Donald Varnell at the Alaska State Museum, and Asgurluta (2018), a curated exhibition including her own works with Alvin Amason, and Nathan Jackson at the Bunnell Street Art Center in Homer, Alaska.

Amason lived in the village of Old Harbor for 20 years before returning to her hometown village of Port Lions for her last two shows. She now lives in Kodiak, Alaska.

Artist Statement:

“At the heart of my work are stories and memories of adventures on and in the waters surrounding Kodiak Island: beach walks, skiff rides, hunting, subsistence, and commercial fishing days. Old fishing boats, gear sheds, and beaches are places I go to find fluorescent vinyl buoys, bright pieces of plexiglass, sea-scraped marine-grade plywood, cedar for carving. Lines carved, and areas sanded and painted again, reveal layers of paint and pencil markings. These images intentionally echo elements of historical design found in ancient Alutiiq hunting and fishing-related objects and show the reverence I hold for the people who made them and the beautiful and perilous life they once lived on this island.

Similarly, out of respect for modern village subsistence and commercial fishing people, I use imagery from this current Kodiak culture: the bold racing stripe combinations and stenciled identifying numbers on our local fishing boats and planes, the splash of a salmon in the net, or the killer whale surfacing near your boat as a warning to leave his fishing area. Marks scratched, sanded and carved recall the way the wind, sun, and waves alter work surfaces on boats and gear, how seasons and weather affect the shades of the land, water, and sky.

The days of all kinds of weather and attitudes of animals and people of this Island; the humor found in the things we say, the combination of Alutiiq/Russian/English languages to explain situations or create names and titles, experiences of encounters with local animals, birds, and marine life, and the belief systems and unspoken rules, the kind of local knowledge that can save your life if the weather comes up: These are what I pay attention to and what are on my mind as I show up every day to work in my studio, carve knife into wood, layer acrylic, draw into it with pencil, hit areas with sandpaper, and paint with oils…the stories of my lifetime’s heritage that are worth telling.”

-Lena Amason


Learn more about the artist in this video we produced for her 2020 exhibition: