Construction and installation on Tuyanitun: Tuggeht was finished in late 2022, and its formal celebration was held on June 21st, 2023. It was an immense occasion to see this accomplishment realized and to consecrate what is the largest sculptural work of mine so far in my career. It bears repeating that being able to have this concept fully developed from sketches to solid materials in a place of prominence in my birthplace was only possible because of the support of dozens of organizations, agencies, and individuals who chose to align their own time and work with this vision. Thank you again to everyone who played a role in this work. I am hoping to continue developing the Tuyanitun concept further in the future.
In the past three years I have spent time further refining the qena sint'isis alphabet and script. This has included simplifying letterforms, working on writing orientation, and creating conventions for transcriptions. I have also decided to rename the alphabet to Delzhi, which is a combination of the first and last letters of the alphabet. I decided to give it this name to make it easier to remember, and to separate its existence from the art series which it originally inspired. Among the considerations in its development, transliteration has been the most important aspect for me since the alphabet is intended to be a tool for living languages, and it has been interesting to think about how to express sounds from one language using a written system which is built around the sound dictionary of another which doesn't use that sound. The simplest example of this is our very useful common English article "the". Throughout the 8 years of this system's development and existence, I have been writing "the" in a variety of ways since "th" doesn't exist as a phoneme in root Nichił Dena'ina. If someone were to transcribe all of my Delzhi writings and art pieces they would see a vast history of changes and inconsistencies in how I write English or other languages. This has been the result of using a system for which no formal conventions exist; it isn't taught in an academic fashion, there are no set rules, and its communicability is incredibly limited to someone using a letter for letter guide. In the case of "the", I have decided that the aspirated t, written as t' in Latin, makes the most audible sense for the English word "the". So the transcription in Delzhi would be t'e, or the letters "tah" and "el". Other variants I had used in the past were de, te, and he. That is just one example of the many considerations in written form and style I have been pondering over, and thanks to work with wonderful fellow linguists, I see this system as starting to settle into its own maturation.
Coming off of the completion of Tuyanitun: Tuggeht, I have been devoting the majority of my time over the past year to developing my next artwork series and exhibit structure. Although I do enjoy immersing myself in the challenges and opportunities presented by one-off, large scale works, I am always drawn back to the romanticized salon style environments that we associate with fine arts. However, I wanted to figure out how I can introduce some of the feelings of works like Tuyanitun: Tuggeht presents into this sphere. Using this as a backdrop and a challenge to myself, I am now developing a series which I believes can do just that. It is my hope that I will be able to reveal this in the near future.
The end of 2021 and early 2022 was a bit of a difficult time for me personally that kept me from projects and updates, but I am happy to say this spring is already having a positive effect on me and everything I am involved in. Currently in the Yił calendar it is the month of Ighedal, which literally means a period of time when streams of waters break through melting river ice. I always enjoy the transformative months of spring when it is not too warm or cold, and seeing the early copper butterflies flying lets me, a dyed in the woold lover of winter, know that the coming warm months will be all right. Not only am I feeling a depth of gratitude for my place, health, and career, I am also immensely appreciative of the people and communities who have had an endemic role in what I have been working on in in the last couple of years, including those beyond just my family, friends, and colleagues who represent all kinds of fields in academia, media, and spirituality. The sense of pride and society these relationships have instilled in myself and others close to me makes me very glad to know that it is worth the long days, months, and years to turn a small idea on paper into a livable reality. It is my hope that what I can help produce inspires and kickstarts the aspirations of those after my time.
Janen: August 27th
Tuyanitun: Tuggeht: September 24th