Published on January 26, 2014 by Amy
Mark K. Brown is an Alaska Native Eskimo born in 1941and raised in Nome, Alaska. Brown still speaks his Alaska Native tongue.
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Inspired by his mother’s advice to develop his own art style, Mark Brown began creating collages on stretched skin depicting the hunt. The scenes, carved in ivory and bone, feature the hunters, the tools used in the hunt and the subsistence animals taken. He is the only known artist to create such collages in this style. He won 1st place in a 1980 Nome, Alaska, art contest for this unique approach.
In his own words:
“I love my Eskimo stories. My mother used to tell me Eskimo stories in her Eskimo language. Story after story, and how Native people used their hunting skill with their old Eskimo tools made of animal bones and walrus tusk for their hunting catch, their hunting needs and their food. This is what gave me the idea to make something about my Native people’s and my hunting skills.
“When I learned to do my first carving, it wasn’t easy. I used to watch my older brothers making their own art work. It looked easy the way they carved, so I decided to try my first art carving. The carving didn’t look too good. My brothers would laugh at me. I was only 16 years old. It looked good to me, but my brothers would say ‘What a dumb carving.’ It would make me mad. My face would get red. Then I told my mom ‘I can’t carve.’ Then my mother would talk to me in soft voices with soft words, saying ‘Son, you have to be patient and take your time in your work.’ So, I did. And now that I’ve learned how to do better work, when my two older brothers see my art work, they don’t laugh at me anymore. They would say ‘You do better work than we do.’
“I am now much older and I am not as fast of a carver as I used to be. Now I am married with one stepson and he’s the best son I could ever have.”