Museum adds Old Harbor artist

The Alutiiq Museum has added to its permanent collection a headdress by Old Harbor artist Kayla Christiansen.

Nacaq is an Alutiiq woman’s headdress made from glass beads, metal charms, leather, and synthetic sinew. It is currently on display in Sitka with “Voices of Change: Perspectives on the Transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States,” an exhibit developed by the Sitka National Historic Park and the University of Alaska Museum of the North to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase.

Kayla’s headdress represents Kodiak Island’s history by showcasing beadings in Alutiiq, Russian, and American colors, including an American flag design. Nacaq will be shipped to the Alutiiq Museum in December, at the conclusion of the exhibit.

Kayla says it was important to her that the museum purchased Nacaq rather than a private collector. “I know that it will be appreciated,” she told us. “I had a business that wanted to purchase it, but I knew that if it was there, no one would notice it or read my narrative on it. I wanted it to go somewhere that visitors and local people could admire it and also get a little piece of history from it.”

The purchase comes from the Art Acquisition Fund, established by Rasmuson Foundation to promote the development of contemporary art collections in Alaska museums. Twice a year, the fund invites proposals to purchase the work of living Alaskan artists, made within the past five years. Artists who would like the Alutiiq Museum to consider purchasing their work will have another opportunity this year; a second round of applications will be accepted this summer, in preparation for an October filing deadline.

Self portrait by Kayla Christiansen

Nacaq, a beaded headdress by Alutiiq artist Kayla Christiansen, features colors representing Kodiak’s Alutiiq, Russian, and American history.