Session I :: July 16-23, 2016

Choose one workshop for the week (although you are welcome to register for both sessions!). All students will share field trips, meals, and evening events.

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Papercuts of Place :: Nikki McClure

Through daily walks and writing, looking and sketching, students will uncover a story of the natural world. Students will craft a papercut based on their Sitka experiences. They will learn by making mistakes and by challenging their selves to explore new techniques and perspectives. We will also read the dictionary. No experience necessary.


Photography: Our Place in the Environment :: Clark Mishler

Students will photograph Alaska’s majestic landscape while considering how humans interact in the context of place. They will explore the natural environment through the camera lens, thinking about the interaction between humans’ relationship to the wilderness and people as a visual element of the Alaskan landscape. Students will focus on the science of how we all relate to the natural world and interact with it on an individual level. This course is for people who wish to expand their photographic skills and explore the mountains, wildlife, and people of Alaska.  Please bring your own digital SLR camera. 



The Craft of Memoir :: Molly Wizenberg

“The sense of place,” Eudora Welty once wrote, “is as essential to good and honest writing as a logical mind; surely they are somewhere related. It is by knowing where you stand that you grow able to judge where you are.” In this workshop, students will explore the craft of the personal essay, with a particular eye toward place. Good writing, even when it’s personal, is rarely about only you or me; it’s about homes and families, cities and small towns, culture, tradition, where and how we live. Drawing inspiration from the work of such writers as Joan Didion, Jo Ann Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, John McPhee, and Calvin Trillin, students will explore ways in which place acts as a powerful catalyst for discovery, for unlocking memory, generating ideas, and anchoring stories. No experience necessary. 



Fire and Ice: The Creation of the Landforms and Seascapes of Baranof Island and Sitka Sound :: Rob Dunbar

In this workshop students will study the powerful forces that have created and sculpted Baranof Island and Sitka Sound. This landscape is young and rough. Some of the secrets of its origins can be seen in the river valleys and mountains that we will visit on field trips. Participants will learn about the last great age of ice, mighty volcanoes, and the tectonic forces that have caused exotic terrains from all over the Pacific to collide into ancestral North America to create SE Alaska. Participants will be encouraged to use creative drawing, painting, and photography to gain a better understanding of how Sitka came to look as it does today and how it may look in the future. Students will also explore the issue of people and place – how the local environment and geography influence human activities and values on Baranof Island.

Session II :: July 23-30, 2016

Each participant chooses one workshop to participate in over the course of the session (although you are welcome to register for both sessions!). The whole festival community will share field trips, meals, and evening events/lectures.

Ancient Weaving Technology :: Teri Rofkar

Working with wool, waxed linen, yellow cedar, and spruce roots students will explore: plaiting, twining, and coiled Basketry. Ancient methods of weaving from the dawn of civilization offer insights into our own relationships with place and sustainable practices. Students will look at different materials, styles, and technologies of weaving in the context of use and availability. They will take several field trips into the forest to harvest materials, and spend time in the presences of the powerful elements of life along the coast of the North Pacific.




The Art and Mechanics of Song :: Cristi Catt

Join Cristi Catt for a week-long exploration of the art and science of singing. Taking inspiration from the natural environment of Sitka and the artistic and scientific community of this year’s festival, the group will create a body of song drawing on chant and folksongs from around the world. The group will also draw on the experience of participants, as well as texts from Alaska, to create new music. The group will improvise in various indoor and outdoor spaces around Sitka, playing with sound, word, and texture. Participants will be introduced to Catt’s Singer Yoga Series, designed to strengthen the singer’s anatomy, balance and energize the breath, cultivate an awareness of the use and release of tension, and quiet the mind. Participants will learn about the science of singing and explore the mechanics of the body and voice. Ultimately, participants will learn to sing with their whole body and understand how directed energy and breath combine to create sound. The workshop is open to all levels of singers, composers, poets and songwriters.


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Sewing with Fish Skin :: Audrey Armstrong

Fish-skin sewing is a traditional Alaskan art. Dried fish skin is very strong, and makes a beautiful leather that can be used to make waterproof bags and baskets. Participants will learn the process for preparing and sewing fish skin, and make beautiful vases and bowls. The workshop will include geometric design work to create unique pieces. Once the fish skin has been sewn and hardened, we will work on embellishments with other kinds of skin, beads, and shells. The workshop will include a field trip to the Sheldon Jackson Museum, which has over 50 pieces made of fish skin in the collection. No experience necessary.


Water, Ecology, and Landscape :: Chris Cianfrani

Baranof Island is rich with natural water resources stretching from headwater streams in the mountains to nutrient-rich arctic bogs to the marine ecosystem of the outer coast. Water has shaped the environment around Sitka and provides habitat for a variety of organisms. Participants will visit these diverse landscapes and gain an understanding of how the natural hydrologic system works. Whether the landscapes of southeast Alaska are new or familiar, we will share the experience of exploring streams, forests, and muskegs through a scientific lens. We will also examine how people use water resources in the area visiting locations such as the Blue Lake hydroelectric project and the Sheldon Jackson fish hatchery at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Students will be encouraged to reflect on their explorations through scientific documentation, journaling, photographic essays, video, or other forms of creative expression.