Kristina A. Zalite
PO Box 6
Bralorne, British Columbia
Canada V0K 1P0
Telephone; (250) 238-2318

Paper: “Regional Mythology and Global War: Relief Printmaking in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic”

This presentation is a visual exploration of printmaking in the North American arctic. The presentation exposes the cultural and geographic landscapes where printmaking began in the Canadian and Alaskan arctic. This presentation also tells of the communities themselves where relief prints are made. Techniques and traditions are unraveled to explain the historical as well as contemporary developments in a print style.

Looking to the global map, the northern regions of North America share a history of colonialism, including resettlement of indigenous people to strategic areas of global war defense. In the mid-1900’s, paper arts were introduced in Canada and Alaska as strategies for economic survival in a world market. The cultural landscape of the northern hemisphere in North America precipitated experiments with printmaking inks, stone blocks, and woodblocks in the communities of Nome, Holman, Baker Lake, and Cape Dorset.

By looking closer at specific communities in arctic North America, one can see unique examples of the global exchange of ideas about printmaking. In Cape Dorset, printmaking began when a development officer studied in Japan for the explicit purpose of starting a northern printmaking centre. On the other hand, in the tundra landscape of Nome, Alaska, printmaking was taught by southern US-trained artists to many skilled drawers and ivory carvers - some of whom had learned their art from Siberian reindeer herders.

Inuit and Eskimo print imagery is often grounded in the mythology, landscape, and culture of the Inuit. Examples of Inuit and Eskimo prints provide ample evidence of an art that seeks to translate the northern, local environment. Meanwhile, the technical approach to Inuit and Eskimo printmaking is very international. With an eye on the current global map, in this era of transnational hyper-communication, a hybrid local-global style can be seen in the prints and printmaking techniques from Nunavut to Alaska.

KRISTINA A. ZALITE studied printmaking at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She experimented with large photocopy transfer and woodblock techniques, taking her subject matter from coastal and mountain forests in southern British Columbia. Kristina’s interest in public art led her to be an art facilitator and coordinator of collaborative outdoor art projects. She has served on the City of Vancouver’s selection committee for public art proposals. Her own public art practice includes an event in which she hugged 60 people in 2 hours at a focal point in the urban landscape of Guelph, Ontario. Kristina has also studied Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph, Ontario. She conducted first hand research about the parks in the arctic territory of Nunavut, publishing her thesis under the title, “Understanding a Theory of Public Participation In Park Planning for Nunavut, Canada”. Kristina has since been studying printmaking and public art practices in the arctic regions of Canada and Alaska. In this presentation, Kristina will share her knowledge and direct observations of printmaking practices from the southeast corner of Baffin Island to the western shore of Alaska.