Doug Smarch Jr., a member of the Tlingit Nation from Teslin, is a conceptual artist working in sculpture and animation whose work will be featured at Northern Scene in Ottawa this spring.
Smarch’s piece, Lucinations, brings people into the spiritual world of himself and his community through an animated, three-dimensional retelling of a traditional story. The installation is projected onto an ethereal 20 X 12 foot screen made of approximately 15,000 white feathers.
“I was able to express a part of my imagination that was very personal,” he says of Lucinations.
The feather screen represents the dark cloud in the story hanging over the community, and the animation shows Smarch’s visions of nature confessing drastic changes to come.
People often react to the piece by becoming quiet and just sitting with it.
“The piece is hard to talk about, people need to experience it,” he says.
Though he uses modern tools, such as the computer program 3D Maya for the animation, the past is very important in his art.
“I know in my Nation we are all woven together with this connection we have: our past,” he says. “When I go out and do my art and work with media I bring that with me. It’s very real; it’s not hypothetical. My culture is inside my DNA and I can still access that part of me and work with it. I don’t consider it as primitive.”
One of three editions of Lucinations belongs to the National Collection at the National Gallery of Art in Ottawa and Smarch is hopeful the Yukon will acquire one on home turf.
Jaclyn Killins is a writer, retired treeplanter, and mom
who lives in a cabin near Whitehorse. Her family recently splurged on running water.