KYUK AM

Making A Medicine Bag In A Pandemic

Jul 6, 2020

An artist from Kasigluk has used his time during the pandemic to make a medicine bag.

Golga Oscar was attending the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when the coronavirus pandemic forced him to come home to the village and finish his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree remotely. He also started making a sealskin medicine bag, among other works of art.

“When I got home, I started on a huge project,” Oscar explained.  “I created a sealskin medicine bag that incorporated calfskin, sealskin with beads. And the handles that I used were leftover. A leftover sealskin.”

it took him more than a month to complete the medicine bag, which is made of sealskin and centered with a design that looks like a black-rayed sun. 

Oscar says that he uses art to explore his cultural heritage. For example, while doing research he learned about “fancy stitching," a technique he uses in the medicine bag. He says that his work is not purely traditional. Instead, he explores the past to make objects that are steeped in tradition, but at the same time contemporary.

“While growing up, I didn’t know any of my Yupik culture in depth, especially when it comes to traditional colors and Yup’ik numbers. After finding that information, I started to incorporate it towards my young Yup’ik art.” 

After getting his degree in fine arts, Oscar plans to study anthropology while continuing to work in the arts. You can find his work on Facebook and Instagram by searching his name: Golga Oscar.