The late Ron Senungetuk blazed trails as a sculptor, silversmith and woodcarver. The creator of KUAC’s 2021 poster, “Whaling Celebration,” passed away in 2020. Artist Kes Woodward said, “Ron’s impact on the Alaska art community and on Alaska as a place is really incredible.”
Senungetuk was from Wales, Alaska, and started making art as a student at Mt. Edgecumbe boarding school in Sitka. He studied woodworking and silversmithing in college in New York, served in the U.S. Army and received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Norway.
Senungetuk’s art is known for including detailed carvings and images inspired by Alaska landscapes and his Inupiaq heritage. He was also central to establishing Alaska’s art scene. He was one of the original members of the state Arts Council. Senungetuk was head of the UAF Art Department for nearly 10 years and founded the UAF Native Art Center.
“The Native Art Center is unique in all the world and being a place originally conceived for Native artists to be able to come into the university and be in a safe and encouraging place to be in this fairly urban setting and fairly large university,” Kes Woodward said. “In every aspect of the arts and Alaska in the Arctic, he was at the center of it all.”
Whaling Celebration is part of the triptych Whaling, Whales, and Whaling Celebration by Ronald Senungetuk, Anchorage Museum Collection, 1991.34.
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Watch this 1-minute video to learn more about artist Ron Senungetuk’s work and impact on Alaska.