Presenting our Kindred Artist of the Week series! We are big fans of all the artists we work with and we are so excited to share their stories!
This week’s featured artist is Alaskan artist Angela Gonzalez. Like so many Alaskan artists, Angela wears a lot of hats - including public relations with First Alaskans Institute and writing on her popular Athabascan Woman blog. Her generosity of spirit and skills is seen in her digital life (check out her youtube with beading tips and tricks!) and throughout her beadwork.
Who are you?
I am Koyukon Athabascan. I'm from Huslia and live in Anchorage with my family. My parents are Al and Eleanor Yatlin. My maternal grandparents are the late Edwin and Lydia Simon. My paternal grandparents are Alda Frank and the late George Frank and Minnie Yatlin.
What do you do?
I work in the public relations/communications field in Anchorage. I am presently the Indigenous Communications Manager at the First Alaskans Institute, a statewide Alaska Native nonprofit. I enjoy sharing photos and stories of life in Alaska, with a focus on Athabascan culture and people on the Athabascan Woman Blog. I love beading! For the past few years, I have focused on making slipper or moccasins. I bead on smoked moose hide and sew them onto the vamps. I add beaver fur trim. So far, I made nearly a 100 pairs with most of them being gifts to family and friends. I customize the beadwork for each person, like a favorite colors, sports team, flower and more.
Who/what inspires you?
I’m inspired by my mom, aunts and late grandma Lydia Simon. They are all great beadworkers who have taught me how to bead and are willing to help when I want to learn something new or how to fix my mistakes. I am also inspired by people who I’m making them for and love the challenge of a new design.
What’s your favorite moment in the process?
I love the healing nature of beading. It connects me to my family, ancestors and culture. I also get filled up when I gift a pair. In someone’s lifetime, they may only have one pair of custom-made beaded slippers. I know how much it means to people. When I was gifting slippers to my nieces, my nephew asked, “Can boys have them too?” I was planning to make some for my nephews too, but I immediately got started on his pair.
What’s a trick of your trade, or a piece of advice for other artists in your medium?
I love sharing how to videos on my YouTube channel and blog, and someone can learn tips and even how to bead slippers. I love following Indigenous Beads (@IndigenousBeads) on Twitter to see their creations and learn about their process. They have a new host each week, and I have been fortunate to host occasionally for the past few years.
Recently, I’ve gotten into beading earrings on smoked moose hide, and especially love making bead soup designs. I have beaded glove tops, but want to learn how to sew them onto gloves and add beaver fur trim. I recently learned to harvest silverberry seeds to make beads, and can’t wait to use them in my work.