Two artists with roots in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are the first recipients of a new, $10,000 grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum.
Ryan Romer is a Yup’ik and Athabascan multi-disciplinary artist from Bethel. Jimmy Riordan spent part of his childhood in Toksook Bay and has spent part of his adult career as a teaching artist in Y-K Delta villages.
Their project, titled “Home,” will explore homelessness in the Y-K Delta, an area with a history of subsistence and nomadism.
"When thinking about homelessness," Riordan and Romer wrote in their grant application, "we cannot help but find ourselves discussing how conversations on the topic are often rooted in an assumption that we as a people have a shared definition of home and what it is to have or not have a home. It is our hope that this project and the resulting artwork will question this assumption and help start a conversation about homelessness that acknowledges the complexity of the topic as it relates to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta specifically, and Alaska more generally."
Over the next two years, the artists will work with the Bethel Winter House and with the villages of Hooper Bay, Newtok, Eek, and Toksook Bay to develop their project, described as “cross-disciplinary” and “research based.”
What Romer and Riordan create with these communities is intended to effect social change on the issue of homelessness.