Otter Bowl with Otter Spirit by Teresa White, Yup'ik
Otter Bowl with Otter Spirit, 2020 by Terresa White, Yup'ik ceramic, pigments
4” high x 12” long x 4.5” wide
This bowl was inspired by the traditional wooden food bowls of the Yup'ik culture of Alaska. Originally made of wood, the bowls were painted on the inside with inherited family designs, and everyone member of the community had a personal eating bowl. Men and older boys ate in the qasgiq (men’s ceremonial house). In the qasgiq, men carved bowls from driftwood pieces they collected during summer. Making new dishes was part of preparing for the Bladder Festival (Nakaciuryaraq) when the souls of seals were symbolically returned to the sea.
Teresa White - Artist Statement
"I am Yup’ik Eskimo and French Canadian. My grandmother’s family name is Clara Konig. Her mother, Helen Akfakorak Konig, was born in the Kuskokwim River region near what is today the Alaskan village of Bethel.
My work is contemporary, exploring traditional themes and their interplay, confluence and divergence with my urban life. I begin working clay for each piece with no more than a dusky shadow in mind of what will materialize. When the person of each mask or figure finally comes into view, I experience delight and relief similar to spotting down the road a relative who has safely traveled a long way for a visit. In fact, when a piece is finished, I often whisper to it, “There you are! Hello!”
"My artistic process continues to be healing medicine for my family and myself, transforming some of the suffering and confusion of displacement into connection and opportunity. I hope my masks and figures reveal to viewers something of their meanings, reminding them at the very least of their resilient animal bodies, their inborn abilities to greet the sweet moments in life with full guiltless pleasure and the dark moments with courage and transformation."