Alaska and Art

Happy Summer! As soon as school was out we took off on an Alaskan cruise. It was amazing (you’d have to work really hard to have a bad time in Alaska OR on a cruise!) I didn’t go to a single art museum, but basked in all the natural beauty I could ever hope for. And the ship was surprisingly artsy! Is art plentiful on all cruise ships? I didn’t realize! Here are some of my favorite pieces from the boat.

I also loved all the totem poles in Alaska. I have fewer pictures of those because my head was on a swivel trying to take in everything I possible could of America’s Last Frontier. Totem poles usually tell a person or family’s story. They are read from bottom to top. The indigenous people sometimes place them at gravesites, but they might also be featured at a wedding, or to commemorate an important event (like the harnessing of the atom, as seen below). Certain animals are frequently used as symbols on the poles. offers this little cheat sheet:

  • The Raven – creation, transformation, knowledge, and the subtlety of truth
  • The Wolf – supernatural powers and hunting abilities, loyalty, family ties, communication, education, and intelligence
  • The Frog – wealth, abundance, ancient wisdom, rebirth, good luck, healing, the bridge between the human and spirit worlds
  • The Eagle – focus, strength, peace, leadership, friendship, and ultimate prestige
  • The Killer Whale – family, romance, longevity, harmony, travel, community, and protection

This 15′ pole was in Juneau. It was made by Tlingit carver, Amos Wallace. I love the totem pole tradition. What life events would you put on your personal totem pole? Which symbols? I’d start with a cross because Jesus! Then I’d for sure have a killer whale because I love all it symbolizes (you can keep your wolf with its supernatural powers and intelligence! Ha!) I’d have to have three little female gender symbols for my girls, and…. (is this blasphemy?!) a little cup of coffee to really communicate to posterity my love for caffeine. Totem pole complete!

*Guess what. This was technically video art! Which, as you know, I normally hate! Tate recorded the eyes of loved ones who had watched over him, cared for him, provided for him at some point over the course of his life. They blinked and winked at me every day when I walked to dinner. And I liked it! Who AM I, even?!