I recently taught a workshop and gave a talk in Sitka, Alaska as part of the Sitka Arts and Science Festival. Sitka is a beautiful coastal community situated in southeast Alaska. The setting is stunning, facing out on the North Pacific and surrounded by mountains and glaciers and sitting on the base of the Tongass National Forest. It is also a place steeped in history, the native Tlingit people have inhabited Sitka for 10,000 years and Sitka was once a Russian stronghold as well.
The Sitka Arts and Science Festival brings together the disciplines of Art and Science in two separate week long programs, with each workshop running for five days. The workshop I conducted was Collage as a Medium, Design Tool and A Way of Life and I had an enthusiastic group of students from diverse backgrounds and levels of experience that were a joy to work with. The group formed a close bond during our days working together and each participant had their own unique approach and way of thinking.
Our main project was to create a poster for the festival that would feature a specific aspect of Science, Art or the location of Sitka that was of interest to the student. We went out together as a group to explore Sitka National Historic Park and its collection of totem poles and the harbor. Everyone took photos for reference, made sketches or collected objects to be used for their posters.
The workshop classes were held in the mornings and our afternoons were spent on a whale-watching excursion, hikes in the rain forest, exploring the historic totem park and the village of Sitka. The Arts and Science Festival overlaps with the Sitka Jazz Workshop and the High School intensives in Musical Theater and Dance. All of the programs take place on the Sheldon Jackson National Historic Landmark campus, making it a constant beehive of activity.
I can see Russia from my window. No visit to Sitka is complete without a drink at the Pioneer Bar, ring the bell and buy everyone a round. With fellow instructor, photographer Clark James Mishler.
It was a wonderful week of exploring and making new friends. This was my first trip to Alaska and I look forward to returning.