Naawéiyaa Tagaban has practiced traditional spruce root basket weaving for about seven years, but over the last couple of years, the Tlingit-Cherokee-Filipino artist has been attracted to the idea of art for action.
Tagaban, who is a Southeast Alaska Conservation Council board member and Juneau resident, will be the next artist in a series of Zoom events focused on making art about climate change. Tagaban’s presentation will focus on how to make stencils and wheat paste.
“We want people to come away from this event with not only one stencil and one sign, but the skills to make them over and over again,” Tagaban said in a recent video interview. “For me, it’s about skill-building.”
He said stenciled designs can be used to give posters or signs a uniform look or to easily reproduce an image that’s intended to be used for multiple events.
“It’s important to think about having a unified message,” Tagaban said.
Wheatpaste, Tagaban said, is an adhesive made from flour that can be dissolved by water. It can be used to affix fliers or posters to a surface in a non-destructive way.
“The idea is it’s non-permanent,” Tagaban said. “Here, in Alaska, it’s very non-permanent.”
The Zoom event, slated for 5:30 p.m., Wednesday is the fourth in a series of climate change-focused arts happenings. Past events have featured Sitka artist Ellie Schmidt, Haines artist Katie Craney and Ketchikan artist Matt Hamilton.
Matt Jackson, climate organizer for SEACC, who joined Tagaban for a video interview, said the goal was to spotlight young artists as well as creators who have already cultivated a following.
Initially, the events were planned to be in-person, but that was derailed by COVID-19, Jackson said.
“We had been all set up to do a workshop for First Friday in April,” Jackson said. “Then, the world turned upside down.”
However, Jackson said the idea of blending art and climate change remained a goal, and the Zoom series took shape.
“I think climate change is a really interesting challenge for our time because it’s not just a policy problem we need solutions for. It’s also a social and cultural problem. It has a potential to win hearts in a way that policy solutions don’t.”
Jackson said there are plans to submit images produced through the art workshops to Alaska’s congressional delegation and perhaps for a physical zine or pop-up galleries once in-person gatherings resume. He said it’s hoped there will be future virtual events too, but specifics are still being determined.
“Art can help us cope with our anxieties and envision a new world,” Jackson said.
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.
Know & Go
What: Hunker Down for Climate Change with Naawéiyaa Tagaban
When: 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 10.
Where: Via Zoom.
How: Attendance requires an RSVP. Those can be submitted at SEACC.org/juneauhunkerdown.