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Qupak by Corrine

KBBI’s Emilie Springer met with an artist and seamstress during the Arctic Encounters events and brought us this story.

     I was introduced to Corrine Danner’s “Atikluk” collection while browsing the art booths outside the main conference area of the Arctic Encounters event several weeks ago in Anchorage, Alaska.  “Atikluk” is the Inupiaq term for the similar Yupik, “kuspuk.”  Danner was one of the artists who presented at the Far North Fashion Show at the as part of the Arctic Encounters event at the Anchorage Museum atrium on April 7th.

“My name is Corinne Danner. I am an Inupiaq teacher at my hometown. I'm a full-time mother and I do this on my spare time.”

I ask, “And where's your hometown? Response, “Barrow, Alaska.”

I ask her to tell me a little more about the show we had the opportunity to see several weeks ago, “Well, you got to see three artists that made parkas and atiluks and there were two artists with seal skin wear, attire and earrings. So I think there was about five artists out there.”

“Have you had many chances to do shows like this before?” I ask.

“No, I have not. This was my first time and this was the best experience I've ever done.”

“How was it the best experience?”

“Well, I’m a very eventful person and I wanted to show the people who I represent and that's Barrow and that's where I learned all my sewing's, my garments and attire.”

“So, can you tell me a little bit about what they look like? I bet you'll be able to describe it better than I can,” I say.

“The parkas, as we have many designs, we have our own stories of how we make them, like with my designs. I have a husband who's from Kauai, Hawaii and he's from the Pacific Ocean and I'm from the Arctic. So, we got good oceans between us: Hawaiian Islands and Arctic Ocean. So, my designs on my parka really means something to me like the waves.”

She tells me more about the style of the garment.

“The parka is a zip-up style and it has a Denali braid. Trim and what I put on is a Halo I made out of Silver Fox and I also put it on the bottom of parkas and some people have different styles. I make out of wolf. I use wolverine. I will silver foxes all kinds and the parka I was wearing is a traditional made parka out of muskrat.”

“So, how did you learn how to make them?”

“Well becoming a mother I was forced by my sister who is three years older than I am and she said you're starting your own family. You need to start to make your own parkas because I depended on my sister. She's the artist. She's a designer. I depended on her because she made me everything, I was a spoiled sister. But becoming a mother she has taught me her ways of sewing so it really means a lot to me,” she said.

“I'm very thankful that they created this type of event and I'm very proud and I would like to see more artists and you never know what kind of talent there is out there and I'm encouraging everyone to keep doing this and bring it out there because I feel some of the artists are not recognized much. I'm also not just a seamstress. I so skin boats in my hometown and we keep that tradition going and it's hard nowadays because we need to teach those young ones and it's good to you know teach and there's a lot of opportunities they could learn any kind of fashion.”

Thank you to Barrow seamstress Corrine Danner for sharing your story.

This is Emilie Springer.