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For carver, inspiration is about Tikigaq

May 4th, 2011 | Trina Landlord Print this article   Email this article  

Othniel Oomittuk Jr. is the featured artist for the months of May and June at the Alaska Native Arts Foundation in downtown Anchorage. This exhibit shows contemporary work by Othniel born and raised in Tikigaq (Point Hope). His art has roots in organic Inupiaq abstraction and worldviews. Each piece for the show was chosen to convey powerful experiences and reveal distinct impressions of how he perceives, feels, thinks and communicates through his art forms — the intrinsic relationships between matter, energy and meaning.

He has been carving for over 15 years, primarily with wood. He has also worked with ivory, baleen, bone, various animal skins, stone, clay, bronze, and painted, photography, printmaking-intaglio and silkscreen. He is currently living in Amsterdam.

Othniel's source of influences, inspiration and creativity is: "Tikigaq. Home is where it's at and without my community there is no art. Wherever I create, I put an Inupiaq twist in the artwork, I may start a piece in Italy but it will have the story from there, but it says that I know my true identity."

He attended high school in Barrow and graduated with a degree in art and a minor in computer science from Western Oregon University. He participated in cultural indigenous gatherings in Olympia, Wash., and New Zealand.

He says of the influences in his work: "I always create from my own experience, but I was influenced by Inupiaq artist Larry Ahvakana and the environment. What is happening in this world, the inspiration for the piece of 'New teeth for the power of Silver Hands' came from a newspaper article and just had to create the piece."

Trina Landlord is a writer for the Alaska Native Arts Foundation. She can be reached at


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