49 Voices: Apayo Moore of Aleknagik

Apayo Moore (Photo courtesy of Apayo Moore)

This week we’re hearing from Apayo Moore from Aleknagik. Moore is an artist who recently painted an 80-foot mural at the Yukon Kuskokwim Fitness Center in Bethel.

Listen now

MOORE: When I was younger, just like little kids like doing… especially little girls, they like impressing their dads. And my dad saw that I kinda had a natural ability with drawing and he said, “Hey, you’re an artist.” And I really grabbed onto that and I was like if he says I’m an artist, I must be an artist.

And so, he would teach me how to draw things like dogs. He would give me pointers and I would really hold on to every word that he said and follow his advice and kinda get coached that way.

And then as I went into school, it just kinda came out with my classmates, where they recognized it themselves and when we had to do drawing projects, I’d have a little little line of people coming over, “Will you draw me this? Will you draw this for me?” And it was just kind of a position that I was placed in by the people around me recognizing what skills I had to contribute.

Yeah, I’ve always been a tomboy. At one point, I wanted to be in the WNBA. So when I went to community college, I was only going because I could play basketball there. I wanted to work on the Slope, and I was gonna drive rigs. I also wanted to be a carpenter. But that’s the wonderful thing about living in rural Alaska is that I’m able to do a lot of the things that I’ve always dreamt of, and there’s not really any limitations. I get to learn how to work on motors if I want to. I know general construction, you know, I did a tiny home building class.

I live off-grid in Aleknagik, so I have a generator, and it kinda forces me into needing to do these other trade skills that… be careful what you wish for because you might end up working really hard. But in my perspective, it’s what makes me mentally healthy and it makes my well-being continue to see things that are inspiring, so my artwork is effective in just sharing our way of life.

Feedback that I was getting was, “Well if you wanna be an artist, you can’t live in rural Alaska.” And I said, you’re dead wrong. I am so inspired when I’m in rural Alaska. How am I going to produce if I’m living in a city when all my inspiration is a $300 dollar ticket away.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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