Alaska Artists: Alvin Eli Amason

lonely caribou in Alakan Nature

As conservationists and people who care deeply for animals and wildlife, we created Alaskan Nature to  provide educational information about the flora and fauna of the great state of Alaska. With both our written information and our stunning photos, Alaskan Nature hopes to inspire people in appreciating and understand the true beauty of Alaska Nature.

Alvin Eli Amason is a Sugpiaq Alaskan painter and sculptor. He was born in 1948 in Kodiak and is of Alutiiq ancestry. Amason was raised by his grandfather, a bear guide. lvin Eli Amason is an Alaskan painter who depicts the state's wildlife with humor and respect.

His paintings and sculpture often use animals and wildlife as subjects. He received his Master of Fine Arts from Arizona State University and taught at Navajo Community College. Amason now teaches at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks where he is the head of the Alaska Native Art studies program. He is a member of the Alaska Native Arts Foundation Board of Directors.

Amason's work has been in invitational shows in Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, and Washington, DC, and his works are in the Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum in Denmark, the University of Alaska Museum of the North, the Alaska State Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Heard Museum. His daughter, Lena Snow Amason is also an artist.

Amason stated "I'm glad I have my heritage, but I don't want to rely on it. You see, culture just doesn't work if it is put on a shelf, in a jar, in a museum. It is a living thing. Time goes on and cultural elements change." Alvin Eli Amason considered other careers, including engineering, before becoming an artist and sculptor. In 1973, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Washington University and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Arizona State University in 1976.

After graduation, Alvin Amason painted and taught art in the American Southwest. Amason has created paintings for Anchorage International Airport and the U.S. Federal Courthouse Building in Anchorage, as well as public schools in Alaska.

He has lived in Rhode Island and Oakland, California feeling the professional challenge of being in the mainstream of American contemporary art. But Alvin is uncomfortable if he is away from Kodiak for too long. He begins to take himself too seriously. The sophisticated contemporary style reflects his education, by the humor and obvious endearment he holds for the images of Alaska are inspired by a childhood rich in warmth and simplicity.

Amason was raised catching fish, digging for clams and asking questions. "Papa, why do salmon jump?" He had asked a lot of people that but his grandfather's answer made the most sense to him. "They jump to see where they're at." Alvin Eli Amason, like the salmon, returns to Kodiak regularly, jumping up out of the mainstream to 'see where he's at.'

Alvin Eli Amason is now retired from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and was the head of the Alaska Native Art studies program there. He is a member of the Alaska Native Arts Foundation Board of Directors.  Alvin Eli Amason was the chair of Navajo Community College's Art Department from 1976 to 1978. In 1978, he took a position as a lecturer at University of Great Falls in Montana. He was appointed by the governor to the Alaska State Council on the Arts in 1981. He received a position at the University of Alaska in 1984, and the Visual Arts Center of Alaska in 1989. In 1992 he took a position as director of the Native Art Center of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Johnny AculiakEdwin Tappan Adney| George Twok Aden AhgupukAlvin Eli Amason| Saradell Ard|   Belmore Browne| Vincent ColyerJules Bernard DahlagerLockwood De Forest| Frederick Samuel Dellenbaugh| William Franklin Draper| | Henry Wood Elliott| John Fehringer| Claire Fejes| Louis Agassiz Fuertes| Magnus Colcord Heurlin| Norman Jackson| Rockwell Kent| Sydney Mortimer Laurence| Fred Machetanz| Marvin Mangus| Milo Minock| James Kivetoruk Moses| Rie MunozJoseph Henry Sharp| James Everett Stuart| John Webber| Kesler Woodward|


Alvin Eli Amason mixed media Bears and Birds

Alvin Eli Amason oil on wood "Peeper" 2007

Alaska's Tribes:

Below is a full list of the different Alaska Native cultures. Within each culture are many different tribes.

Learn more about Alaskan tribes

Aleut Athabascan Eyak
Haida Inuit Tlingit
Tsimshian Yupik