Huk Dzap – The Artist (Original Painting)
Original Acrylic on Paper
“There is no direct translation from the English word “artist” into Sm’algya̱x, the language of the Tsimshian. A painter is huk’nat’miis, always painting. A carver is hukgyiłaam, always carving. I moved home to my community of Metlakatla, Alaska in 2015 to learn my language. As I now near becoming an advanced learner, I find that my approach to my art and my view on the world is changing. Using my language everyday, even for a simple title like this, is extremely important to me.
This design is meant to represent all artists. I wanted the design to be classic but modern, simple in its construction but deeply meaningful in its purpose. I chose to use primary colors in the hopes of a bold first impression, while at the same time, representing the creativity and opportunity that those colors unlock for artists today. It’s no secret that I’m a traditionalist. But this was an opportunity to use my formline training to express my appreciation for my fellow artists, of all mediums, and to express myself as a modern Tsimshian artist.
The figure is neither male nor female, or it’s both at once. It’s the spirit in all artists that challenges us to keep creating, that inspires us. The geometric design on the left pays tribute to weavers and textile artists. The blue ultra-primary field is to represent modern materials, like glass. The hands are like paint brushes. The head ovoid, unintentional when I first designed it, is like an adze blade striking into wood.
I remember going to shows at Stonington when I was a little boy. Thanks to my father, I have had the opportunity to grow up in this art world. It’s allowed me to meet my heroes, work with some of them, and be surrounded by creativity all my life. Ayaltga’nu (I’m fortunate).