Anchorage Museum to bring panel of artists to Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Artists across the Circumpolar North, including a group of Alaska Native artists working with the Anchorage Museum, will convene at the 2015 Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland, this month. The Anchorage Museum is bringing Indigenous artists from Alaska to the Assembly for a discussion of Arctic lifeways from a human and cultural perspective.

Arctic Circle Assemblies, held every October, have become the largest international gathering on the Arctic, attended by more than 1,500 participants from over 40 countries, according to the nonprofit’s website. In addition, the Arctic Circle organizes smaller forums on specific subjects, such as the 2015 forums in Alaska and Singapore, and the 2016 forums in Québec and Greenland.

Anchorage Museum Director Julie Decker said involving artists in this year’s global policy discussions is an important milestone.

“It is unprecedented that museums and artists are invited to participate at international leadership conferences like the Arctic Circle Assembly, which has largely focused on law, infrastructure, and commerce in the Arctic,” Decker said in a release.

Decker will moderate a curated conversation at the Arctic Circle Assembly during a conference program called “Polar Lab: A Shared North – An Arctic Identity.” The panel will bring together Alaska Native artists, performers and writers to discuss the emergence of Alaska’s Northern identity through art and literature, while exploring its connection to the global Arctic within the context of science and research. Panelists include:

• Joan Kane (Iñupiaq), a writer and poet who is the author of “The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife” and “The Straits,” for which she has received the Whiting Writer’s Award;

• Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Athabascan/Iñupiaq), a contemporary artist whose work chronicles the ongoing struggle for self-definition and identity in the Alaska context;

• Da-ka-xeen Mehner (Tlingit/N’ishga), a photographer and sculptor who uses the tools of family ancestry and personal history to build his art;

• Aaron Leggett (Dena’ina Athabascan), a museum curator who co-curated “Dena’inaq’ Huch’ulyeshi: The Dena’ina Way of Living,” the first major exhibition on Dena’ina Athabascan culture; and

• Allison Warden (Iñupiaq), a performer and artist who virtually brings audiences to the village of Kaktovik where they hear about the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, in her one-woman show “Calling All Polar Bears.” She will perform as part of this session at the conference. Learn more at

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