Beth Hill, Iipuk
My given Yup'ik name is Iipuk, or big eyes. Often as a child, my big eyes were the sole blue pair in my entire village. When I was just a year old, my family began their journey to Alaska moving to the small Alaskan villages of Aniak and Kasigluk, then finally to the small town of Bethel where I completed high school. I was immersed at an early age into the Yup’ik language, stories, values, subsistence way of life and rural Alaskan culture, all of which have greatly influenced my artwork today. My Iipuk eyes have taught me to observe and translate my experiences to others through my artwork.
As a child I spent many short Alaskan summers and long winter nights drawing and painting on whatever paper, walls, clothes or surfaces I could find. Through this continuous practice I have learned and refined my style to what it is today.
From the small yet mighty tundra cotton that can withstand hurricane winds, to the commercial fisherwoman who drags her net across the unforgiving mud, I am influenced by the surviving spirit that shines in many of my Alaskan subjects. I work from real people and animals, from photographs and sketches, often doing research while out exploring nature. I begin any composition by first drawing and re-drawing until I have captured the energy and flow of the piece. I often look for repeated shapes or colors to help guide the viewers eyes across the canvas.
I primarily work in oil paints on stretched canvas or claybord panels. I am self-taught and forever learning. I have spent most of my adult life on Lake Iliamna in the small village of Kokhanok and have most recently moved to the town of Naknek where I have a studio and an art/coffee shop, Shearwater Art & Espresso.
Because I was different as a child, I used to be ashamed of my big Iipuk eyes, but now I am honored to let the world see through them.