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Daily Art Moment: Terresa White, Mark Tetpon, and Don Johnston

Seal Vision: Shared Spirit celebrates the inter-related lives of seals with the people and animals of the far north. Echoing the format of Yu’pik dance masks, this striking mixed media sculpture is the result of a collaboration between Terresa White (Yup’ik), Mark Tetpon (Inupiaq) and Don Johnston (Qagan Tayagungin Aleut). There are so many stories hidden within this joyous work. The central shape in bronze, created by White, is shaped like a seal’s body as viewed from below with its flippers at the top. A woman’s face in the center is also transforming from human to seal. The mask form is surrounded by walrus ivory carved into pairs of seals, polar bears, dancers, fish and ulus (knives used to carve meat or blubber) by Tetpon. The work is topped by a hunter carved from fossilized walrus ivory sitting in a baleen basketry canoe, created by Johnston. This joyous work is a recent acquisition that also increases our representation of local artists in the collection since Terresa White lives and works in Portland.

Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art

Terresa White (American, Yup’ik, and French Canadian, b. 1968); Mark Tetpon (American and Inupiaq, b. 1967); Don Johnston (American and Qagan Tayagungin Aleut). Seal Vision: Shared Spirit, 2020. Bronze, fossil walrus ivory, mastodon ivory, baleen. Gift of Beverly Terry, 2020.36.1 © artists or other rights holders; images courtesy of Quintana Galleries and photographed by Kevin McConnell