Art Inspiration

The art in the Gentle Tarot and My Friend Fire was created on and inspired by the lands of multiple indigenous nations in three separate regions of Alaska. My own indigenous roots are Chichimeca and Wixárika in Zacatecas, Central México. I plan to eventually release a completely new Gentle Tarot based on my homeland. Returning is important soul work for me, and I have long envisioned a deck with artwork inspired by the landscapes of my homeland. If you would like to support my reconnection and experience behind-the-scenes updates, please join our community in Patreon. This post includes links to resources for learning more about the indigenous nations in Alaska whose lands have inspired my art, and how to donate to programs that directly support them. The photos shared here are all from my personal collection.

Iluulux̂ : The lands of the Unangax̂

The Gentle Tarot was born in the Summer of 2020 in the homelands of the Unangax̂ in Iluulux̂ (Unalaska), a remote island in the Aleutian Islands chain. Why did you go there? Most of the art was inspired and created between 2017 and 2021, while I was living on the island either full or part time. Add 1-2 sentences about living there or wildlife/nature imagery that was inspiring. 

The films I share below, Usugilix Awakun and Building Husitux̂, were produced by Unangax creators and friends, names, who were present (lived close by, visited me in the evenings) while the Gentle Tarot was being birthed in a small off-the-grid cabin while I was doing wild salmon field work. And 1 sentence about wild salmon field work. The films speak to the history of the island and the Unangan people, colonization, and Unangan culture and traditions in connection to the environment. The films also include incredible imagery of Iluulux̂'s unique natural landscape and some of the wildlife that I was lucky enough to live alongside during my time on Iluulux̂ and that inspired the Gentle Tarot! I hold so much reverence for names and the important work they are doing for their communities and for indigenous people worldwide. Iluulux̂ is forever in my heart and I am so grateful for the years that I had the privilege of connecting with this special island. 

If you are interested in supporting the community, you can donate to Camp Qungayuux, the tribe’s youth camp that was created to preserve Unangan lifestyle and customs within future generations.

Usugilix Awakun from Spruce Tone on Vimeo.


Kodiak Island: The lands of the Sun'aq

From 2014 to 2017, I worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, collecting data on wild salmon on the Kodiak Island Archipelago. I worked with one other colleague at a time on off-the-grid field camps during the summer season. We were tracking the salmon and rebuilding blah blah. 1 sentence about having no reception, what you did in the evening. The bears in my work are artistic interpretations of individual bears I had the honor of co-existing with during this period of my life. Kodiak Island is home to X bear species. While their populations on the island have diminished, it is still one of the best places in Alaska to spot bears. They usually make themselves visible in the evening, when we were finishing our work. One morning, I saw an X bear close to the river. Say something about another plant/animal that appears in your work? 

If you are interested in supporting the Sun'aq, you can donate to Alutiiq Museum, which celebrates and preserves Alutiiq/Sun'aq heritage and culture and serves the community through events and activities. 


Southeast Alaska: the lands of the Sugpiaq, Dena'ina, and the Ninilchik Village Tribe

The Kenai Coast on the Gulf of Alaska is the homeland of the Sugpiaq. The Southern Kenai Peninsula is the homeland of the Ninilchik Village TribeSo-called Anchorage is the homeland of the Dena'ina.

No has escrito nada 😂😂😂 Homer está aquí? Cuando viviste en esos lugares? 

If you are interested in supporting tribes in Southeast Alaska, you can donate to Sealaska Heritage Institute

For an in-depth description of the inspiration behind my art, please consider the Gentle Tarot full-size guidebook, which includes life stories and symbolism for each card and its illustration.

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