February 26, 2013

"Hallucinatory fish" painter's Native influences

Fish Puns and Fog Woman: The Indian Influence on Alaskan Artist Ray Troll

By Lee AllenYou don’t have to actually carry Native blood to think like an Indian…especially when you’ve lived for decades amongst indigenous peoples like Alaska’s Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribal members.

Ray Troll, dubbed the "Artist Laureate of Hallucinatory Fish Images" and proprietor of a Ketchikan art studio called Soho Coho, has lived among, learned from, and collaborated with Alaskan Native artists for 30 years. “Native American art, specifically Alaskan Native artists, is important to me. This is a town where there’s a lot of Native folk art and when I moved here, I began to hang out with Native carvers, incorporating some of their cultural themes into my work and frequently collaborating with someone of Native origin,” he says.

He refers to the amalgam as ‘culture jamming,’ an olio of observations taken from fish, fishermen, seascapes, and Native American imagery. “We’re all drinking from the same water here and the craftsmanship of indigenous peoples can’t help but seep into the creativity found in this place.

“When it comes to art with an indigenous influence, the old logging-fishing village of Ketchikan is the place," he says. "There’s a connection with this creative group, and since my penchant is to iconify fish, that resonates with the form-line design images of Northwest Native American artwork.” When he needs a break from his own creativity, he’ll drive to the Native village of Saxman and hang out at the carving center where coastal clan artists make totem poles out of massive red cedars.
Comment:  For more on Native-influenced art, see Dale Chihuly's Native Influences.

Below:  "Inside Ray Troll's Soho Coho art studio in Ketchikan, Alaska."

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