Yup’ik Nation – Kasigluk/Tununak
Golga Oscar is a self-taught artist who creates modern textiles that reflect his Yup’ik identity. He was born and raised in Kasigluk, Alaska, and graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts with an emphasis in Photography. He works with different mediums ranging from leather/skin sewing, to grass weaving and walrus ivory and wood carving. He is the only male seamstress in his extended family, carrying forward both his grandmother’s legacies. As a fluent Yup’ik speaker, Oscar is dedicated to keeping his culture and traditions alive and relevant by teaching the next generations about their language and art.
Oscar seeks to revitalize ancestral Yup’ik work with a mix of contemporary materials and designs. Through his deep knowledge of traditional art forms and sewing skills, he creates cultural attire that becomes a vital visual element in his photographic imagery. His images portray portraits of Indigenous people to show the world the importance of Native heritage and the validity of their existence.
Oscar has successfully led classes on Yup’ik headdresses, tools for skinning, and the art of making a fancy parka. His work is in permanent collections at the Anchorage Museum, Burke Museum, and International Folk Art Museum, and has been featured in Vogue Magazine. He has received recognition from First People’s Fund as well as the Rasmusson Foundation.
The process of producing a Yup’ik garment reflects not only on the overall look but also speaks about the producer going through a healing journey in reclaiming their Native identity…”
– Golga Oscar (Yup’ik Nation – Kasigluk/Tununak)
For his 2023 LIFT Project, Oscar will create two forms of Yup’ik fancy parkas. The parkas will be constructed of fur and will include adornments made from calfskin, beads, reindeer fur, and yarn. The pieces will include geometric designs that signify his family symbology and regional structure, as well as unique color systems representing Yup’ik culture. Oscar’s goal for this project is to spread awareness and inspiration for the current and the younger generation to pursue their cultural identity. He will showcase the parkas in Native fashion shows across North America, and document and share his process on online platforms.