Mary Wheeler-Goddard

White formline design on a black background depicting wolf, eagle and man.
Selling Alaska, 2017
Digital print on vinyl

Mary Wheeler-Goddard, Tlingit-Kaagwaantaan

A wide copper cuff bracelet with formline design carvings on the surface.
Selling Alaska, 2017
Copper cuff

Mary Wheeler-Goddard, Tlingit-Kaagwaantaan


Selling Alaska

Copper cuff and digital print on vinyl

"My artwork represents where I am and where I am from. Growing up in a world where tradition was valued, but not understood or taught because of racism, my pieces show glimpses of my Tlingit culture. I have experienced a world where culture and contemporary living are woven together, not all of the time understood, but all of the time still there.

My pieces reflect my understanding of my culture and my thriving in this modern world. I work thoughtfully to capture and honor my Tlingit Culture while making my pieces relatable and understandable. My carved silver and copper jewelry show the traditional form line artwork, but also depicts realism. In these pieces, people familiar with Tlingit culture, as well as those who are not, can grasp and understand. When form line art is not present in my work, I enjoy using traditional materials as a way to create pieces that still voice my culture. Such traditional materials include spruce roots, whale baleen, trade beads, quills, leather, copper and more.

In this piece I’ve titled Selling Alaska, I used the Bear to depict Russia, and the Eagle to represent the United States. Both the Bear and Eagle are in form line style to show that there is no escaping influence when you become part of a place. The sea otter in the Bear’s eyes tells the story of the near extinction of the sea otter population when Russia resided here. The fish in the Eagle’s eye represents the United States ambition for devouring resources. The Tlingit man is lying down, not because he is allowing the sale, or because he is doing nothing, but rather because he was unaware of the sale going on. In the minds of the natives of Alaska, land did not belong to any one person and never would they have considered to sell land that they inheritably owned. I positioned the man inside the mouths of the Bear and Eagle purposely. You can chew up a Tlingit Man and spit him out, but you will still spit out a Tlingit Man."

- Mary Wheeler Goddard
Photograph of artist Mary Wheeler-Goddard.
Artist: Mary Wheeler-Goddard, Tlingit-Kaagwaantaan

NPS Photo, Mary Wheeler-Goddard

Mary Wheeler-Goddard, Tlingit-Kaagwaantaan:

I have had the privilege of being raised in Southeast Alaska, a place I consider to be one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. Here, I am inspired, encouraged, and I always feel supported.

Right now I am currently working with traditional materials making contemporary jewelry. These materials include, but are not limited to, copper, silver, spruce roots, quill, baleen, and grass. I hand carve, shape, and cut all of my materials to create unique pieces, as well as harvesting and preparing the natural materials. I have learned most of my trade from my mother Jennie Wheeler who is both a skin/fur sewer and a basket weaver, as well as from Master Carver Dave Galanin.

Please check out my website at:
Produced in Collaboration with National Park Service, et al.

Last updated: December 9, 2017

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103 Monastery St.
Sitka, AK 99835


907 747-0110

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