February 26, 2014

Artist Profile | Alison Bremner

As you may or may not know, I love meeting and getting to know new artists. I love how they see the world - how they envision and re-vision it. A new artist on my radar is Alison Bremner. She is a Tlingit artist born and raised in Southeast Alaska, and currently working in the Seattle area. She was recently selected to design the 2014 SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market merchandise. Beyond Buckskin is also working with her to get her jewelry available on the Boutique site - so stay tuned for that!

In the mean time, scroll down to read our interview with her, in which she shares some fun and candid responses.

BB: When and why did you start creating jewelry?
AB: My jewelry creation began in September of 2013. It started by considering the concept of money, like any self-employed artist will do. The copper shield, or tináa, was an object of wealth and prestige among Northwest Coast First Nations people. It was brought out to display during potlatch, and represented more than just the value of the copper. Tináas once held a money-like value, and today it is dollar bills. A light came on, and the first Potlatch Dollar was born by superimposing images of money onto copper shields.

BB: What or who is your inspiration?
AB: I am inspired by ancient traditions and modern coffee. As a child of bicultural heritage, I find inspiration from the positive aspects of when cultures meet. Many Native Americans are adhering to tradition in a very fast paced modern world. I am interested in depicting the modern Native.

BB: What has been your most challenging project to date? What made it challenging to you and what did you learn in the process?
AB: A few months ago I was making a drum out of an incredibly thick hide. I had to stand on it in the bathtub to get it to a workable state! Later I found out it was moose. When in doubt, use the bathtub.

BB: Describe your goals as an artist.
AB: My goal as an artist is to have a fulfilling public and private art career. Promoting Tlingit art and culture through a more contemporary practice, while at the same time sharing traditional techniques with my home community.

BB: What does Native American fashion mean to you?
AB: Native fashion is an important facet in strengthening our identity and cultures. Hopefully as the Native fashion industry grows, there will be less appropriation and more de-bunking of cultural stereotypes.

BB: Who are your favorite Native American fashion designers?
AB: Sho Sho Esquiro is pretty incredible. Joel Isaak, who sews fish skins into clothing, is doing some interesting things.

BB: What hobbies are you currently passionate about?
AB: Most recently Zumba, where I have a great time stomping around in the back of the class.

BB: What is something that a lot of people don’t know, but should know, about your tribe?
AB: We are the people that gave you Martin Sensmeier.