Journey to Alaska—The Ways of the North: Heather Johnston

a solo exhibition


Heather Johnston, born in 1982 in Anchorage, Alaska, works in a variety of media including works on paper and canvas, as well as sculptures in wood and clay. Her newest body of mixed media works on antique maps, sheet music, and book pages pays homage to the symbiotic coexistence of the Indigenous communities of Alaska with the majestic wildlife on which those communities depend. The collection depicts the traditional ways of everyday life along with the cultural and spiritual connections to the land and animals. Each piece is part of an overall story that helps paint a picture of life in Alaska—from the importance of family, to enjoying the vast ocean and sea life in all its beauty; from celebrations, to traditions, to preparing for the harsh and blustery winters with hunting and fishing. Each piece in this collection is a story inspired by the balance and strength of real life, both past and present, of Alaskan Natives.

These pieces embody Johnston’s Alaskan Indigenous identity and cultural traditions, and her use of antique maps of Alaska as a canvas on which she creates her scenes draws particular attention to the importance of place in her work. She populates these interesting sheets with whales, bears, wolves, hunters, sea kayaks, and the familial groups who live in the far-reaching communities throughout Alaska. Her characters dance across these backdrops, inviting us to contemplate the link between the subjects and their environment, while simultaneously focusing on artistic form over function.

These works are both playful and weighty, highlighting the deep connection between humans and their environment—where subsistence living is relevant and where beauty and joy are found in both everyday experiences and the vastness of the wild.

Exhibition Dates:

April 6, 2023 - April 29, 2023

Involved Artists:

Heather Johnston