Voices of Our Ancestors: Documentary film to revitalize the Indigenous languages

 

Yup’ik, Inupiat, Tlingit, Alutiiq, Koyukon, Aleut, Tsimshian, Gwich’in, Haida… Alaska is home to more than 20 Native languages. From the fjords in the Southeast to the northern tundra where it meets the Arctic Ocean, the Alaskan languages have been spoken and sung for tens of thousands of years. Sadly, all of them are facing an imminent risk of extinction.

On this year’s Indigenous Peoples Day (Oct 8), the UAF community had an opportunity to reflect on revitalizing the Indigenous languages. An award-winning documentary short, “Voices of Our Ancestors”, was screened to the public in the Ballroom at Wood Center.

‘Waats’asdiyei (Joe Yates) is introducing his documentary short, “Voices of Our Ancestors” to the audience before the screening.

The event started with an introduction to the film by the director, ‘Waats’asdiyei (Joe Yates). Yates is a Haida from Craig, Alaska, majoring in Film here at UAF. “Our mission is to spread awareness on the state of our languages right now, to inspire others to learn their language, and to provoke them to teach what they know,” said Yates to the audience of about 50 people.

The 12-minute-long documentary was shot mostly at Yates’ home, starring his Yup’ik wife, Charleen, and daughter, Nayak’aq. Yates narrated how the Yup’ik and Haida languages are being forgotten as elders pass away, along with the hope to revitalize the languages. “After having my daughter, she re-woke my spirits. She made me realize that I don’t know enough to continue on our history,” said the Haida director in the film.

The film showed the Yates’ teaching their daughter Yup’ik and Haida by reading her children’s books and putting name tags on various objects in the house. Nayak’aq, who was at the screening with their parents, would grin and laugh whenever she saw herself on the screen. Although the circumstances of her languages are certainly not positive, the big smiles that she made to her elders’ songs showed a living hope. With parents like the Yates’, her languages will survive and be passed on to her and her children.

The documentary film, “Voices of Our Ancestors”, is screening in the UAF Ballroom in Wood Center.

The greatest moments in making “Voices of Our Ancestors” were “Seeing the growth of my daughter’s knowledge of both her culture’s language; that and my wife is understanding more Haida and I am learning more Yup’ik,” Yates told the Sun Star in an email interview. He said his family was his biggest inspiration to create this film.

“My wife’s culture is so beautiful and vibrant, it’s not hard to see how strong their culture is. With my language, Haida language is slipping away, my goal is to keep it alive and the best way I know is to teach it to my daughter. My wife and I agreed before our daughter was born that we wanted to teach her our languages.”

In fact, Charleen was not only his motivation but also one of his most valuable colleagues. The film’s authentic feels of home and intimacy that gave the audience a warm satisfaction naturally stemmed from his close collaboration with others.

“Charleen helped me out tremendously and not with just the cultural side, but she made sure the story was there and would notify me if anything looked of sounded off. I received a lot of advice from my professor, Rob Prince as well. After going to my wife, I’d go to him to get more of the filming side of the advice. Other than those two, my co-worker, Buck, helped me out a lot with my outline and helping me how to animate my title,” Yates wrote.

But not all processes were smooth, the filmmaker also mentioned. “On this project, I was doing both [the technology and story] sides. I was directing, starring, working with sound, everything. In the beginning we had to re-do a few interviews because the audio wasn’t up to par.”

‘Waats’asdiyei (Joe Yates) talking with the audience after the screening, holding his daughter, Nayak’aq, in his arms.

And it seemed like Yate’s endeavor has paid off. Wataru Takahashi, an anthropology exchange student and amateur filmmaker from Japan, praised “Voices of Our Ancestors” as a “very well-done film” with so much information in short runtime yet with the perfect amount of weight.

Takahashi said, “the reason I found [the film] very interesting is because, usually in university, all teachers and students think we have to study –in general, people have to study–their own language, but they don’t say they want to teach their own children in the future. Now I want to know more about the Alaskan languages.”

He sounded inspired by how the Yates’ taught their daughter Yup’ik and Haida. “I found it really cool that when they put stickers which he writes the name of the furniture in their language. It’s very cool to learn language as a life-tool in baby’s life. For me, I can use that way to learn the Athabascan, Yup’ik or Inupiat language,” said Takahashi. He was already a fan of Voices of Our Ancestors.

“Films are a really good tool to inform who don’t know or who don’t have really strong interest in this kind of issue,” he said with enthusiasm. “I really want to watch the full-length film.”

Image courtesy of FBX Films

Yates is currently making the 26-minute-long television version of Voices of Our Ancestors with a plan to have it completed by the end of this year. This longer version will contain the stories of the Yates’ visit to Kasigluk, Alaska, where Charleen is from. Yates is also planning on making a full-length version of the documentary but told the Sun Star that it is hard to predict what will be in it. “My goal is that we will go to my hometown, Craig, Alaska, and have both my wife and daughter adopted in the Haida culture so that they both can have a clan. Within the documentary, I explain further on what all that means,” the rising director showed his ambitions.

“A message I would like to share with the Indigenous communities at UAF is that I am honored every time I am able to speak. I know there was a time that if you were able to speak to a crowd, you were most high honored to do so,” Yates wrote.

He also shared a message to the UAF’s non-Native populations, “a Seawolf is a Haida creature that we share in our stories often. Before you chant ‘what’s a Seawolf’, Google the question first!”

“Voices of Our Ancestors” won Best Alaska Film by the MôTif Film Festival in 2018 and an award by the Ketchikan Film Festival in the same year. The documentary was also nominated and officially selected at other film festivals.

Yates can be reached at his team’s website. “Voices of Our Ancestors” can be found on Facebook and Instagram.




Celebrated Ceramics Artist Patti Warashina Visits UAF

Patti Warashina explains her creative process at a presentation on Wednesday

Patti Warashina, an iconic Japanese-American ceramics artist from Seattle, visited Fairbanks last week for a workshop sponsored by the UAF Students Ceramics Arts Guild.

“When the Ceramics Guild proposed Patti I said, ‘No way, she’s too big of a star!’ ” said the Faculty Adviser for the guild, Jim Brashear, in introducing Warashina, “But she was super excited to come up.”

Brashear said that Warashina is considered a pioneering iconoclast in a movement of ceramics called California Funk that evolved from a hyper-masculine ceramics styles of the 50s and 60s.

“California Funk started looking at mold making: Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and that kind of shit, that was considered kitschy,” said Brashear, “Patti was one of the first successful artists to come out of that and she was the first successful female [ceramics] artists.”

Warashina hosted a public two-day workshop at the UAF ceramics studio as well as giving a presentation about her work that was attended by about forty people. The 78-year old Warashina talked about her wide-ranging influences–from the religious fragmentation of the Japanese American community she observed during her upbringing in Spokane, to her flower garden and King Tut– that have inspired her art over her iconoclastic 50-year career. While a lot of her recent work has included political commentary, she says she hasn’t let it get her down.

“My work is so happy,” she said.

Warashina says that she never tried to make explicit feminist commentary, but that it was taken as such.

Despite her trailblazing achievements, Warashina said she usually wasn’t trying to make feminist statements, but that they came out naturally from influences she was feeling.

One of her earlier pieces entitled “Clothesline Robbery,” portrays a naked woman smiling ebulliently from atop a car towing the scraps of a run-over clothesline. “I wasn’t consciously doing it as a women’s thing, but because of the timing it was taken as such,” she said.

In another example of her light-hearted irreverence, Warashina talked about her portrayal of her then-husband sitting atop a rat in “A Procession.” “My husband asked, ‘Why’d you do that to me?!’ I said, ‘It’s my work, I can do what I want.”

Despite her age, Warashina said that she continues to work in the studio and sleep only a few hours per night.

“I cat nap, but I sleep for two hours and then I’ll wake up and I just gotta read something,” she said, “But I still love going into the studio, and I feel bad when I don’t go in.”

Zoey Hensley, a sophomore art student, attended the workshops and said she was interested in Warashina’s entry into pottery.

“She talked about what was popular when she started was these large, macho, pots, and she started using things that were considered kitschy,” said Hensley.

Hensley said that she has never run into the barriers of being a woman that Patti described from her early career.

“She got picked on a lot,” said Hensley, ”I haven’t had any problems with gender issues, and thinking about what she did is so much more impressive.”




First children’s play in 15 years lends positive reactions

Among diverse props, wooden masks were utilized to portray villagers. Albienne (portrayed by Emily Ross) encounters the villagers early on in her 20-year journey back home.

The Salisbury Theater filled with children’s laughter, a well embraced reaction after 15 years since UAF’s last children’s production.

“This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing,” first produced in 2011 and written by Australian playwright Finnegan Kruckemeyer, tells the story of three young girls who are abandoned in the woods by their father after the tragic death of their mother. Each girl then ventures into the world, taking different paths of self-discovery until finding their way back home 20 years later.

Abigail Van Patter, the director, earned her Masters in Theatre for Young Audience Directing from University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Prior to moving to Fairbanks, she ran a children’s theater company, where she worked with inner-city kids.

This also wasn’t Van Patter’s first time directing a show in Fairbanks. Last spring, Van Patter had directed a show at the Children’s Museum. She was then approached by the theater department because of her experience in the field.

The three sisters are seen playing together early in the show. It isn’t until their mother’s death that they are separated once abandoned in the woods by their father.

“Certain directors, that is their specialty, and that’s what I direct,” said Van Patter, “and so when I came and they asked me to direct a show, […] it made sense for me to do it.”

Van Patter said she hopes UAF will consider doing more shows like this in the future.

Though successful, the production brought a variety of technical problems due to the unique nature of the set, which remained unchanged throughout the hour-long show. The production incorporated ladders, slides, shadow and wood puppets into the performance.

“A box isn’t a box,” said Lara Lotze, a film and performing arts student who worked on set design, lighting, props, and projection for the play. “It’s a ship and a table and a million different things. We built [the set] around versatility; that was the first challenge, making it as versatile as possible. But because of that, part of the delight of the show is how widely everything gets used.”

Beatrix (portrayed by Sarah Williams) is seen performing behind a screen.

In conjunction with the versatility of the set, Van Patter’s background as a movement director contributed to the overall performance of the show. Without such a bright and whimsical performance from the actors, the show likely wouldn’t be as engaging for a children’s audience.

Last Friday morning the cast performed for an all children’s audience. Isabella Sellers, a student in psychology, worked as the stage manager for the play. Sellers said the theater was packed, cramming 450 students into the auditorium to watch Friday morning’s show.

“[The children] loved it,” said Sellers. “They were laughing. It was really fun, and it’s been an honor to be able to do something like this.”

Despite the play having been written for younger audiences, college students could still be found sitting in the theatre. Devonte Smith, a history student, reacted positively to the performance.

“Judging by the kids’ reactions throughout the show, and my own reactions—like how I felt during the show—it definitely tapped into my inner child,” said Smith. “I thought it was cute.”

From left to right: performers Mary Conlin, Paloma Polanco, Sarah Williams and Emily Ross give a dramatic performance at last weekends show of “This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl does nothing.”

Some students also expressed an interest in seeing more shows geared toward a younger audience in the future, albeit not as frequently as other performances.

Syd Paulino, an English major said they were in favor of more children’s shows, even acknowledging the smaller audience appeal.

“I think it’s a sweet thing to offer for the community once in awhile,” Paulino added. “I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing one every season.”

“This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing” will have one more weekend of performances Friday, Feb. 16 – Sunday, Feb. 18. More information regarding the show and future performances can be found on the UAF Theatre website.




Lights! Cameras! Caravan of Glam!

Isaiah Esquire dressed in drag and mid pose for their act in Caravan of Glam.

Fans decked out in in drag showed up to the Caravan of Glam show last Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Pub. Caravan of Glam was started to show audience members, mainly those of the queer community, that it is okay to be who you are and do what you want. The entertainers, Isaiah Esquire, Amora Dior Black, Spyke Naugahyde, and Johnny Nuriel, are also big on respect.

Before the show, Nuriel went over a few ground rules. First, tipping is very much appreciated. Second, flash photography is “Mandatory.” And Third, consent: do not touch the performers without their permission.

Nuriel then opened the stage for fans to come up and take pictures. The line stretched past the back row of seats and reached near the front doors.

Naugahyde took over the stage and joked with the crowd. The audience howled with laughter as Naugahyde, who is not from Alaska, explained that Fairbanks locals tell you that -14 is not that cold, while Naugahyde exaggerated how cold they were. Once Naugahyde had the the audience engaged, they went back stage and the show started.

Each performer showed their special talents as their glamor clad bodies shimmied to the music. In every act the performers entered the seating area to shake hands with audience members and dance with people who stood up to tip. Some audience members almost experienced a lap dance also.

The show opened with local talent Penny, who showered the crowd with confetti. They sported a pink coat and short blue skirt, while using a gift bag and a huge teddy bear card for props as they danced on stage. They lip synced to a song, which had the crowd singing along.

Dior Black, dressed in a black one-piece covered in sequins and feathers, showed off their flexibility with the splits, high leg kicks, and rapid dance moves. Deep base pulsed with each of Dior Black’s move. Their presence in the crowd had many people standing and handing them tips.

Amora Dior Black blowing minds of crowd members with their flexibility.

Esquire twerked to a more up beat song as the audience cheered. Their blue and purple bodysuit allowed their body to move with high kicks and low squats. Esquire defied gravity while dancing in six-inch heels around the establishment. People moved to the tempo of the music, almost hypnotized by the lights and pulsing beat.

Nuriel’s perfomance began with a provocative dance that slowly ended in a strip tease. Each bit of clothing, incorporated with brilliant, gold sparkles dropped to the floor as Nuriel removed each article of clothing. The stage was then set on fire with ribbon dancing; the fabric caught on the low ceiling once throughout the performance. Tips rained down in abundance from the pleased crowd.

In between two acts, Esquire had a heart to heart with the crowd. He opened the floor up for questions as the stage was being cleared of confetti, and one fan asked how he dealt with the haters.

Isaiah Esquire receiving tips for their perfomance.

“If you do not affect my life positively, then you do not exist in my world,” Esquire said, and the crowd cheered louder.

Before the show, Johnny Nuriel and Spyke Naugahyde expressed their love for what they do.

Naugahyde explained that “the connection with people and being able to meet a whole basic new group of friends and fans and people who love what you love” is important to their inspiration.

“The most rewarding thing about performing is always having some new thing over the horizon and know that you are brining this form of queer art to smaller cities,” Naugahyde said.

Nuriel shared a similar sentiment, expressing the need for queer art and for different expressions of gender.

Johnny Nuriel after their strip tease wowing the crowd with their fantastic talent.

Nuriel then touched on some moments close to his heart.

“Any time that someone is moved emotionally. That always stands out,” Nuriel said. “You don’t always know where someone is at emotionally and what weight, you know. Maybe they had a horrible day and they’re coming to the show and this is what turns it around for them. And I’ve had people come up to me and been very emotional or in tears, and just feeling like I could possibly move them to that place is definitely something that stands out in my mind. I’ll never forget if someone expresses that emotion to me.”

The Caravan of Glam has performed at UAF a total of five times and plans on returning in the future. They do shows for students 18 and up as well as for those 21 and up. Tickets are generally $15-20. For more information on the Caravan of Glam check them out on social media or at http://www.caravanofglam.com/




Museum guests invited to view unique artifacts

A Cannon found in Southeast Alaska brought out of the lower levels of the Museum of the North for visitors to see.

Pattering of feet and squeals of delight sounded through the halls of the Museum of the North for its annual open house on Jan. 27.

Upon entering the building guests were directed to a booth where the UAMN Curiosity Club gave guests a chance to enter a drawing for the chance to win a year membership. Anyone who was not a student filled out a form to add it to the bin with the hopes of winning. At the booth guests could also find details of other activities that would take place throughout the day.

The open house held this Saturday made time for a special activity in the museum, opening doors not normally open to the public. Attendees were ushered behind the scenes to see the shop where employees build display cases. Sneak peeks of upcoming exhibits were given, and guests were allowed down to the lower level where staff showed off some of the archaeological artifacts kept off the display floor.

The Museum of the North has the biggest archaeological collection of Alaskan artifacts. Items in possession have come from all over Alaska. One of the pieces brought out for visitors came from Southeast Alaska. It was a dilapidated cannon, which staff believe is from the 17th century.

There were refreshments in the auditorium where they played a slideshow of items both on display and not. The slides showcased how various, mesmerizing displays of art were created.

The craft room contained various activities for children that allowed them to interact with art and science. One station gave kids the chance to create their own aurora with chalk, which seemed to be the most popular. Another showed kids how magnets worked and different ways in which they would react by twirling around a magnet stick, which held little bits of magnet in a type of viscous liquid.

For more information on future open houses, interested parties can check out the museum’s website http://www.uaf.edu/museum/.




MFA student exhibition hosts opening reception

Ethan Lauesen holding “The Act of Turning: Rotation” by Max Bartsch. Max has stated that this specific artwork was meant to represent “something that can’t be viewed without turning or rotating it,” as opposed to tradition paintings.

In the Fine Arts building a crowd gathered in the gallery for the opening reception of the Master of Fine Arts Student Exhibition Thursday, Jan. 25.

Once a year the graduate students in the art department collaborate to put on a show that displays art the students have been working on.

Carol Hoefler, the administrative assistant of the art department, says that the show gives students an opportunity to share what they have been working on while in the program with the public.

“It’s fun to watch the progress that some of these students make because you can tell some of the students are close to the end of their program while some are just at the start,” said Hoefler.

Eugene Cole (right) views “Borealis” by Indi Walter among other students at the exhibit that was hosted on Jan. 25.

A total of 10 artists make up the show with work ranging from digital media to photography, ceramics, bone carvings, weaving, and painting. But with there being such a wide variety of art and styles presented in the show, setting up the event itself can come with some difficulty.

Indi Walter’s “Borealis” (left) and “Aluminum Wolf Skull” (right) on display at the MFA Student Exhibition. One reason that draws Walter to using bone in her work is because its biodegradable.

The process of readying a gallery for a show is not always simple. Second year MFA student Max Bartsch described it as being similar to piecing together a puzzle, while gesturing to the opposite wall. Hanging on the wall is a body of work by photographer JR Ancheta. Above the photographs hangs art by Theresa Woldstad.

“We have this line here of JR’s birds of prey, and then we have Theresa’s pieces above that,” said Bartsch. “That’s not like an intentional decision, but then when we look at everything together it kind of becomes really obvious that those go really well together, and it kind of becomes its own pairing of ideas and pairing of different pieces.”

The art on display in the gallery can make coordination difficult between varying bodies of work due to the wide range of uniqueness presented. It can make or break the experience for visitors without a logical aesthetic flow in the gallery.

The artists in the MFA program come from different backgrounds and experiences prior to arriving at UAF. Originally from upstate New York, Bartsch received his BFA in Ohio before coming to Fairbanks.

Bartsch typically produces large paintings with different shapes and materials. The color palette may sometimes vary, but Bartsch tends to gravitate toward a few specific colors, such as pink and yellow, that then reoccur throughout his art.

Onlookers in the gallery view paintings on the backwall of the exhibition. Fine arts graduate students hung their own paintings at the exhibit.

Bartsch said that he both did and did not have a planning process and that he treats his art as an improvisational laboratory.

“I’ve done a lot of performance work, and people always ask with the performance work if I change my work to make it more entertaining, and not really,” said Bartsch. “The way that I kind of work I’m kind of tearing things up. I’ve got, like, these screen print pages. I’ve got like 30 sheets of that just laid out, you know. If a painting needs a spot of that, I just cut that out and stick it over there.”

Bartsch explained the process that goes into his paintings tends to involve the use of acrylic gel and finding textures and gluing surfaces together.

The style of Bartsch’s paintings drastically differ from art by Theresa Woldstad. Set on a pedestal near Bartsch’s work is a case of glass Coca-Cola bottles. Weaves of red and yellow cedar bark wrap the bottom of an empty bottle. It’s titled “Native Pop Culture.”

Yarn and cedar bark are woven around Coca-Cola bottles for the “Native Pop Art” display. The piece acts as a statement against cultural re-appropriation of Alaska Natives.

Woldstad was born in Kodiak and practices traditional weaving. “Native Pop Art” is an example of Tlingit style weaving where the weaving is done from the bottom-up. Woldstad said the shape of the bottles presented a challenge when trying to weave around the curvatures of the glass.

When asked about the inspiration behind the piece, Woldstad described it as a representation of re-appropriation in Native pop culture and food culture.

“[Food culture] is very diverse but a lot of the aspects of food incorporates pilot bread,” said Woldstad, “which you buy at Fred Meyer or sodas as well you buy from a store and you eventually use it as a supplement to traditional foods like salmon and other aspects.”

Along the front wall is a long table. On it is food for the reception, including home-smoked coho and sockeye salmon dip that Woldstad had provided. Guests dig in as they peruse the gallery space. Among them is Agnes Lawson, a digital art student.

Lawson was viewing Ancheta’s photography when asked what had drawn her to the gallery.

“I know a lot of the artists as friends through different classes, so I was excited to see what they had been working on over the last semester,” said Lawson.

One of Lawsons favorite pieces included the denim mugs by ceramicist Wendy Connelley. Lawson had met Connelley in an art class prior to the Spring semester.

Every few weeks throughout the semester, the gallery will host exhibitions for future BFA and MFA students as a part of the students’ final thesis project. The MFA Student Exhibition will be on display through Feb. 9.

Indi Walter’s “Borealis” (left) and “Aluminum Wolf Skull” (right) on display at the MFA Student Exhibition. One reason that draws Walter to using bone in her work is because it’s biodegradable.

For more information on future exhibitions visit www.uaf.edu/art/gallery-and-events/, or like their Facebook page at UAF Art Department.




Department sale draws business for art students

The Fine Arts Complex bustled with business on Friday afternoon as customers wrapped in winter jackets and scarves filtered through rooms browsing the prints, pots, and jewelry for sale.

“The student art sale for the student ceramic arts guild (SCAG) is a fundraiser for our club and a way for students to sell the work they made that semester,” Erin Krogstad president of the SCAG, said regarding the pottery sale. Krogstad managed a table at the sale, taking payments as students waited for their selections to be returned to them, wrapped in newspaper.

There were students and Fairbanks community members alike attending the sale this semester. While a silent auction in the back of the ceramics studio allowed guests to quietly bid on items donated from past artists, the center of the room buzzed with chatter as people examined everything from tea cups to serving trays.

SCAG uses portions of the proceeds from the sales to bring ceramics artists to campus, host Waffle Sundays in the art department, make food bank donations, and cook turkey in the studio’s kiln for Thanksgiving.

Down a narrow hallway from the pottery sale, tables were occupied by large swathes of paper, rather than clusters of clay pots. The print sale featured work from students of the printmaking studio laid out across every available surface. Next door in the metalsmithing studio jewelry was mounted on stands and laid out on open tables for interested parties to examine.

“I had prints and painting set up, but primarily worked with the painting sale,” said Max Bartsch, a graduate student working in the art department. He spent most of last Friday in the painting studio, helping set up for the sale.

This was the first year in awhile the department has been able to set up a painting sale during the other art sales, according to Bartsch. Bartsch said he sold a few prints, but not any paintings.

Students set their own prices for each piece they contribute to the sale and then the proceeds are split between the student and the department, according to Krogstad. There is another sale slated for end of the semester in Spring 2018.

Krogstad said, “It’s a good way for students to learn about selling their own work.”




‘Dark Winter Nights’ sheds light on Alaskan experiences

The Lower 48’s collective view of Alaska has become rather warped over the years, barraged by a variety of reality television shows and appearances by the likes of Sarah Palin and Charlo Greene. Ranging from “Alaskan Bush People” to “Deadliest Catch,” Alaskan stories have become heavily filtered by the media.

Journalism professor Robert Prince recognized this, and decided to rectify the situation by creating “Dark Winter Nights,” a podcast, radio program, and live show where real Alaskans tell real Alaskan stories.

“There’s a lot of reality TV shows that just make things up that. They create this caricature of Alaska that they think audiences in the lower 48 and around the world want to see. There’s enough fascinating stuff happening here already. We don’t need to make stuff up,” said Prince.

The live shows first began in April of 2014, drawing just a few hundred people. In November of the same year, their second show’s audience had grown exponentially, packing Pioneer Park. Their largest show was in 2015 and attracted nearly a thousand people.

Although the show took a hiatus while Prince was on sabbatical, he is now back in Alaska and getting things moving once more. Podcasts are being uploaded regularly, and a live show is currently planned for April 2018.

“My long-term goal is to take us on the road,” Prince said. “The world is fascinated with Alaska, obviously, but I feel like Alaska needs to take control of its story and its identity and not let TV producers from L.A. decide what Alaska is like.”

Although the program has been a “labor of love,” Prince hopes to expand the program soon, and has been working with international podcasts in an effort to expand the audience of the show.

Prince is always looking for more stories, so any Alaskan who thinks that they may have a worthy Alaskana story to share can visit the show’s website and submit their tale for judgement.

Some examples of these stories include close encounters with the animals here in Alaska, such as Ray Smith’s story of driving into town behind a pack of wolves as told in the most recent episode of the podcast.

“I get right up behind them and I tap the horn a little bit, it didn’t even faze them. They didn’t turn around and look at me, they didn’t do anything, they just stayed right in my lane,” said Smith. “And I want to add by the way, they were all in the southbound lane, none of them were over there in the northbound lane. I guess they read their manual, but I don’t know.”

“The Dark Winter Nights” team votes on each submitted story, and decides which ones will work best on the radio, podcast, and/or in their lives shows.

“It has to be a story that would impress other Alaskans, because we feel that if the story impresses Alaskans, it’s going to blow away people in the Lower 48,” says Prince.

“It’s been a ton of fun to get up in front of all those Alaskans and share these awesome stories that would otherwise just not be told,” he continued.

Those who wish to listen to the Dark Winter Nights podcasts can visit http://darkwinternights.com/, and keep an eye peeled for the upcoming live show through their Facebook page or email newsletter.




Students do ‘The Time Warp’ again

 

From left to right: Shawn Goggins, Amber Shoemaker, Gary Black, Dahlia Rot, Jennifer Bodily, Sarah Brazo, Robin Zimmerman, and Charlie Blackwell. And Dusti Bennett under the blanket.

For most performances, the entire crowd shouting “Fuck you” at the top of their lungs would be considered a failure, but “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is not every show. Released in 1975, the comedy horror musical was largely panned by critics, but gained a massive cult following over the years.

Many performances of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will have the original movie starring Tim Curry playing on a screen in the background, while actors mime the actions occurring on screen, lip-syncing their character’s lines and songs. Throughout the show, the audience will participate by shouting expletives at actors at certain moments throughout the story, commenting on various aspects of the show and its characters, or throwing items like toast, rice, confetti, or rolls of toilet paper.

First time audience members are referred to as ‘virgins’ complete with a V marked onto their forehead with red lipstick. These virgins are encouraged to take part in almost a rite of passage as part of their first time experience watching the show. In the case of the production put on by Naked Stage Productions this year, first-time audience members were asked to say the word “panties” into a microphone in as sexy a way as possible.

In many ways, a production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is more about the shared experience than the movie itself.

“Almost immediately I didn’t understand it at all. Like, I had no idea what was happening on screen, I was confused, I was horrified, and I was excited,” said Dahlia Rot, the performer playing the part of Dr. Frank N. Furter in this year’s production when talking about the first time they ever saw the movie.

Dahlia Rot’s big reveal as Dr. Frank N. Furter.

Naked Stage Productions traditionally puts on the show at UAF annually, which started back in 2009. This year though, the crew was faced with some difficulties in setting up, having only been given access to the theater three days before the show.

“You know, it’s been a whole group effort so the whole cast came and they’re all helping to set everything up and make sure we get the screen hung correctly, and make sure we have we’ve got like a ramp that we’ve put in,” said Rachel Blackwell, the producer and director of the show, “and like all these things that we need to do to get ready for the show, and I’m so appreciative of all the people we have working on this show, because they’ve all come together and helped out.”

Despite the challenges that the crew faced, students enjoyed the show. The theater was packed full of audience members.

Di Starr as the criminologist, a narrator of the events of the show.

“I absolutely loved it, it was my first time doing it. I’ve seen Rocky Horror plenty of times, they did a wonderful rendition of it,” said Nathan Hiles, an art student and one of the first-time viewers of the play version of the production.

“It was absolutely wonderful, you got to see the movie and watch some people play it out, and it was perfect,” said Aimee Bushnell, an art and business administration student.

Another tradition in performances of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is arriving in costume. Some of the students were dressed in Halloween costumes, while others were dressed as characters from the show. Some, who didn’t dress up, felt that they should have.

“It’s the first time I’ve gone to a play and felt like I was dressed too far down,” said Nathan Barnett, a mechanical engineering major who attended the show. “I had too much clothing on, and I needed to be like ‘where’s my corset, where’s my stockings?'”

As a longstanding tradition of traditions, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is one production that many students seem to want to enjoy again.

“I believe I can say for the four [attending people],” said Hiles, “we would come back every year if they put on a production.”

From left to right: Nathan Hiles, Aimee Bushnell, Rachel Bruesch, Nathan Barnett




Student artist designs starscapes and sea creatures

Ink bottles are strewn across shelves. From the ceiling dangles rows and rows of artwork patiently awaiting their completion, delicately hung by clothes pins. The view of the hills just beyond Walsh Hall can be admired from almost any angle through the windows lining the printmaking studio.

To some, the printmaking studio may seem like organized chaos, with large granite table slabs covering most of the area, papers and rollers covering most of the rest. To Devante Owens, this studio has become a familiar home over the past several months as he prepares for his upcoming B.F.A. exhibition on Oct. 2 and reflects on his collection, what inspires him, and how his passion for making art came to be.

“You feel intimidated by making something that’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be,” Owens said.

Owns shared how he took an art class over the summer at UAF where he rediscovered his passion for making art. He immediately switched his major and has been doing it since then. He spends most of his time in the art department these days.

Now dominated by giant images of space and ocean creatures, his work space is filling up with images for his upcoming exhibitions. Angler fish creep out from behind planets and a sailboat tears through a star filled seascape in some of his recent work.

“A lot of the imagery is based on the ocean and space; that’s just something that I’ve always been drawn to with art,” said Owens. “There’s something really nice about looking into the unknown and having these endless possibilities that you can look at. Combining that with art and creating these scenes that don’t actually have to make sense, but you can still read them and understand what’s going on.”

Although he is now at home in the studio, he did not start there. Initially, Owens was on a different path at the university—he was an engineering major, which he credits to being good at math in high school.

“I had a good math professor and I did A.P. Calculus and everything, and it just seemed like the best thing to do because back then petroleum was looking really good,” he said. “After two years, it was just not what I wanted to do. It wasn’t making me happy.”

Initially entering the department as an Art major focusing on painting, he later switched to printmaking under the inspiration of one of his advisers. For this project, he has taken on larger scale printmaking work.

“As a whole, I want the gallery to explain a little bit of the processes behind printmaking,” said Owens, regarding the larger theme for his exhibition collection.

His interest in art goes back to childhood and he says his ambition to create only increased as grew older.

“When I was younger I used to draw cartoon characters and kinda just copy stuff that I saw. I wasn’t really interested in creating new stuff, I was just kinda interested in mimicking things,” Owens said. “When I got into high school I had a really awesome art teacher and her art classes were a really nice way for me to release some creative energy and create things that I actually liked doing. I started doing really ambitious projects that I couldn’t get finished.”

One of his self admitted struggles has been time management. Several of his paintings are large in scale, taking a great deal of time to complete.

“I always have an idea that I want to go for,” he said. “It’s a little bit more ambitious and it’s about experimenting and trying to push what I can do with something. That usually gets me in trouble with getting things done on time.”

Owens also discussed some of his opinions on audiences and their connection to art. He believes people can feel disconnected, especially if they are not artists themselves. However, he maintains that art is a process that takes a great deal of work and does not simply appear on the canvas the way it is shown.

“My sketchbooks look like absolute crap,” he said. “Eventually after a lot of hours of tweaking things, and redrawing things it becomes something that I’m okay with posting on the internet. But this show is my challenge to myself to be more okay with putting things out there that are not finished.”

With his B.F.A. being his primary focus, Owens says has taken time off of work to dedicate his time and energy to his art. He shared how he would like to pursue graduate school somewhere in the Lower 48, after taking a bit off time off to work and save money.

Owens’ B.F.A. exhibition will be held on Oct. 2 from 5 – 8 p.m. at the UAF Art gallery in the Fine Arts Complex. The show is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.