I thought of this painting for a long time before I painted this portrait. I admired the idea of wearing a reindeer fawn skin parka trimmed with a walrus tusk design. The walrus ivory earrings and necklace were embellished with Russian trade beads.
In the late 1800's to early 1900's there was some trading among the Russians and Alaska's Native people. In the village of Unalakleet there is a large extended family of Russian-Eskimo descent. The state of Alaska was owned by the Russian government and in 1867 was sold to the United States for two (2) cents an acre.
The black and white photograph of this Eskimo woman was probably taken either in Wales or Mekoryuk, Alaska. I admire the strength, serenity and beauty of this woman. Once this painting was complete my husband and a friend of ours thought the woman looked like me. I did too . . . a little bit.