“In my work I create an image of my world. I invite and pull viewers into the imaginary space where I am allowed to be all selves at once; it is an invitation for the viewer to unravel the illusion of one true voice, one self, or one home.”
—Erica Lord, 2006
Erica Lord partially identifies as an Inupiaq and an Athabascan with roots in Barrow and Nenana, Alaska. This month and running until mid-August, Erica’s artwork will feature in an exhibit with the Alaska Native Arts Foundation, titled The Search for Nuchalawoyya: Resistance and Reconciliation. The artist’s statement is a short biography explaining her multi-cultural family roots and also her mainstream American upbringing in the Lower 48. For the past dozen years Erica has been an artist expressing what it means to be herself and how she searches out foundations of her indentity.
Nuchulawoyya is Koyukon Athabascan for “where the two rivers meet”, speaking of the Yukon and Tanana Rivers, and has always been a traditional meeting place for Athabascans all along the Yukon and Tanana Rivers. Erica I believe is making a play on the traditional place name, with her own interpretation on the name and how pieces of her identity flow into one another to create her whole self.
Erica’s professional website displays all of her past works, featured around the country and the world. In one particular work, Erica has emulated Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills with rows of portraits of herself, but each portraying superficially different characters.
As an Alaska Native myself, specifically and coincidentally Koyukon Athabascan, I strongly relate to Erica’s work, and have a definite sympathy towards open-ended perceptions of self-identity. Someday, all of us Alaska Natives will eventually have it all sorted out…