Robert Davis Hoffmann

Sculpture made of a white plaster mask with a black stripe crossing over the left eye down to the right side of the chin, supported by four metal bars with metal plates attached between them. Beneath this are pieces of broken dolls.
I Miss You, 2014
Plaster, welded steel, and found objects

Robert Davis Hoffmann


I Miss You

Plaster, welded steel, and found objects

"As a child, I watched my father carve and design in our Tlingit formline style. His generation struggled with assimilation into western culture. His art kept him connected to our tribal past. By extension it connected, and keeps me connected, to a sense of place, history, and identity.

Connecting past to present, although restorative, unveils disturbing history as well. The colonization of Alaska was done at the suffering of its indigenous people. Epidemic diseases, boarding schools, zealous missionaries, and the subordination of our culture are but a few examples. Post-traumatic symptoms are its fallout.

It is comfortable to avoid reminders of trauma, to be silent. Art has the courage to disrupt silence, to narrate. My father was careful to pass along to me only so much. I wanted to know him. My piece, 'I Miss You' tells of that yearning.

My goal is to make art that is meaningful in today’s socio-cultural context in a way that the beauty of our 'traditional' art isn’t lost in the message. My hope is that my art invites, involves, and inspires healing within and between cultures."

- Robert Davis Hoffmann
Photograph of artist Robert Davis Hoffmann.
Artist: Robert Davis Hoffmann

NPS Photo, Robert Davis Hoffmann

Robert Davis Hoffmann is of the Tlingit tribe, Tsaagweidi (Eagle/Killer Whale) clan, Xaay Hit (Yellow Cedar House), from Kake, Alaska. His acrylic paintings and carved panels explore native issues by using themes of transformation. His father’s generation struggled with assimilation into western culture; Robert watched him carve and design to stay connected to his culture. Similarly, Robert uses his own art to bridge his tribal past to the present. Robert is most recognized for the large scale painted backdrop that graces the dancer’s platform at the biennial Sealaska Celebrations.
Produced in Collaboration with National Park Service, et al.

Last updated: December 9, 2017

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