The F/V Helen Dell
Wood, Acrylic, Oils, Monofilament, Beads, Feathers
The F/V (Fishing Vessel) Helen Dell is a traditional style Alutiiq Plank Mask created as a tribute to the fishing community of Old Harbor, Alaska. More particularly, it was made in honor of the artist’s brother, who just acquired his first fishing boat, the Helen Dell. The boat was also Amason-Berns’ husband’s first boat and was named after his mother and sister. The number stenciled on the piece represents the ADF&G registration number which will stay with the boat no matter who owns it.
Amason-Berns has been working on a series of Seal Masks that uphold the Alutiiq tradition of making and dancing a mask as a way to manifest and bring about the hopes and dreams you feel for a person or their endeavors.
Fishing is the at the center of the Alutiiq community and culture. It is how one provides for family and community, and is intricately linked with a sense of purpose and self. Amason-Berns remembers her elders describing their connection to the sea and fishing, and telling her the sea was where they felt they belonged, where they were whole. In recent years, fishing has become a more precarious livelihood. Traditionally, the investment in a boat could usually be paid off in a couple of good seasons, but this is no longer guaranteed. There is financial risk at stake for the fisherman and their families. The love and hope the artist holds in her heart for her brother and his future are in this mask.