Lawrence (Larry)'Ulaaq' R. Ahvakana *Ahvakana Fine Art

“Tradition in Sculpture, Print and Glass.”

I was born in Fairbanks but my lineage is Inupiaq/Eskimo of Barrow and Point Hope, the Northern Arctic regions of Alaska.  I was raised in Barrow and Anchorage.
My first introduction to the Arts was watching my mother, a talented seamstress and skin sewer.  All my life, I was surrounded by the Northern Alaska Inupiaq culture, my people. I started creating art as a young man.  I was always creating art.  While living in Anchorage I was inspired by the Yupik dances and songs, their beautiful intricate garments, accoutrements and elaborate ceremonies as well as the dances, songs, and the oral traditions of the Inupiaq of Northern Alaska.  The Yupik are the Inuit of the SW Region of Alaska. 
I have always wanted to create art and through it, I want people to realize the beauty and challenges that we have as Inupiat people.  I follow my people’s tradition of carving.  Within my designs, I incorporate the sense of my cultural design, but the interpretation is very personal and the conceptual format, I hope, will give the viewer an idea of the Inupiaq tradition. It is my emotional interpretation of my respect and involvement within the environment of the North Slope of Alaska.
My grandfather, Ahvakan, was a song composer, dancer, and creator of dances and songs.  This is how we got the last name Ahvakana.  He was a great whaler, a very important man.  Whaling captains and their crew supply the people with food and leadership.  My real names are Ulaaq, my Great Uncle’s name who is from Beachy Point, and Suweetcharuq, my Great Grandmother from Point Hope’s name.  We believe that when we receive our names we receive something of the spirit of those ancestors.  My father was also a whaler, hunter and later on an administrator.  As part of his crew, I harpooned my whale as a young man and hunted with him.  Subsistence is still a major part of the Northern Alaska lifestyle. 
Through my work, I express/create my ideas of tradition, those feelings of being part of a society, The Inuit, that's thousands of years old. I am also influenced by contemporary artists, my colleagues and instructors, Alan Houser, Fritz Shoulder, Charles Lollama, Paul Klee, Kandinsky and others.  I continually gain insight, direction, and psychic or emotional strength through the stories of how the Inupiat defined their total subsistence lifestyle with the shamanism, ceremony, and the natural cycles of Arctic living.
I have been working as an artist for over 40 years.  I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI; the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and attended the Cooper Union School of Art in New York, NY. 
I was an instructor, at the Institute of American Indian Art, in sculpture and glass; served as the head of the Sculpture Studio at the Visual Arts Center in Anchorage, Alaska and had a glass studio and taught glass blowing in Barrow in 1973 –74, and I teach art workshops. 
My works are in national museums, corporate collections, national and international collections and public art commissions.  More specifically, my work can be seen in public schools in Barrow and Anchorage, AK; North Slope Borough Main Office, Barrow, AK; Anchorage Museum, Anchorage AK; Anchorage Court House, Anchorage, AK; The Sheraton Hotel, Anchorage, AK; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Bandon Dunes, Bandon, OR; The Alyeska Ski Resort, Girdwood, AK; Portland State U, Portland, OR; the Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ; and currently in art galleries in Anchorage, AK; Seattle, WA; Santa Fe, NM. 
Note:  While he is most noted for his Inupiaq or Inuit figures and animals, he is not limited to cultural imagery.  His media includes wood, stone, glass, ivory, bronze, one dimensional work and metals.  To further describe his style, his fans describe his images as having a calm, almost reverent presence.