New Alaska Native Artwork Unveiled in Denali Visitor Center
Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583
The original artwork of four well-known and highly respected Alaska Native artists, representing a variety of cultural backgrounds and artistic styles, now highlight the exhibit that surrounds the large topographic model of Denali National Park and Preserve located in the Denali Visitor Center. Each piece of art corresponds to a direction of the compass, and represents the Alaska Native groups who call those portions of the state home.
Inupiaq artist Ron Senungetuck coordinated the effort with three other artists: Lena Amason, an Alutiiq from Old Harbor; Kathleen Carlo, an Athabascan from Fairbanks and Wayne Price, a Tlingit from Haines. Senungetuck’s carved and painted panel signifies the West or Beringia portion of Alaska. It is situated opposite Price’s panel, which is representative of Eastern Alaska and the Southeastern panhandle. Arnason’s carved piece embodies the South and Kodiak Island area of the state and Carlo’s piece, the most sculptural of the four, represents the North and Interior Alaska. The use of ancient art elements in all of the pieces continues the celebration of the connection between all living things, a thematic element that runs throughout the Denali Visitor Center. “This artwork will offer greater accessibility, and enhanced esthetic, education, and cultural appeal to the visiting public,” said Carol Harding, project manager and Interpretive Planner for Denali National Park and Preserve.
Senungetuck assisted in coordinating the artists, created precise panel templates to insure that each piece would fit into the exhibit, installed the final art, and provide advice and oversight throughout the project. All of the pieces were designed to be accessible to the thousands of visitors who interact with the visitor center exhibits from mid-May through mid-September. Each panel is approximately four feet long and twenty inches wide, and follows the curvature of the topographic model.
The artwork was made possible with the assistance of the Alaska Geographic, a supporter and nonprofit partner of Denali National Park and Preserve, working across the state connecting people to Alaska’s parks, forests, and refuges. “This exhibit has been greatly enhanced by these spectacular pieces of art, which would not have been possible without the partnership with Alaska Geographic. The artwork will greatly increase the quality of the interpretive experience for an audience of all ages and abilities,” said Superintendent Paul Anderson.
The National Park Service opened the Denali Visitor Center during the summer of 2005. This relatively new facility features a lobby for visitor orientation and information, 5,500 square feet of exhibit space, and the 285-seat Karstens Theater where the award winning, high -definition film “Heartbeats of Denali” is shown throughout the day. The building is located on the Denali Park Road approximately one mile from the junction with the George Parks Highway.
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Did You Know?
Mount McKinley, located within Denali National Park and Preserve, is the highest mountain on the North American continent. Measured from the 2,000 foot lowlands to its snowy summit at 20,320 feet, the mountain’s vertical relief of 18,000 feet is greater than that of Mount Everest.