Hoover’s artwork celebrates fishing ancestry, fish runs

Mixed media exhibit “Bloodline” on display through Aug. 25

Cordovan artist Rachel Hoover stands in front of her artwork and new gallery show, "Bloodline", housed at the Copper River Gallery, located within the Cordova Museum, on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

The ever-changing Copper River Gallery now features six large, acrylic-on-wood panel paintings, titled “Bloodline”, created by local Cordovan artist Rachel Hoover.

Large white and black salmon stand boldly and proudly against thick wood panels, resin finish shining in the bright lights; a statement of Cordovan history and tradition.

They will be on display through Aug. 25.

Hoover, an artist and mother, currently runs a fermentation business, Darling’s Ferments. She dedicated the series to her grandmother, Barbara McAllister Hoover.

“My grandmother was such a role model for me, we became very close after I became a mother,” Hoover said. “The sparkle in her eyes and the kindness she taught me, I will never forget. I thought about her a lot while painting these pieces.”

A large square piece hung between two salmon panels showed a different scene and features a painted self-portrait.

“I wanted to add the ‘Dawn’, my mother and father’s old retired seiner, behind me, representing my parents and what they passed on to me through the bloodline,” Hoover said. “It was a very emotional, therapeutic piece to paint.”

Hoover looks up to friend and artist, Corey Smith, a contemporary American painter, sculptor and photographer who she became friends with 2003 in the snowboarding scene. She is mindful and patient in the artistic process.

“I wait till the art is bubbling in my brain so hard I gotta start painting it,” she said.

Using mixed media speaks to her, she said.

“I always create a play list and listen to it with my headphones on and get into my zone. Once I put a layer up, I’ll sit back and let the painting start talking to me … it’s a mind opening process for sure,” Hoover said.

Hoover was born into a family of artists and fishermen of Prince William Sound and the Copper River and uses art as a way to reflect her fishing ancestry. Her children, Una, 5, and Sulho, 3, are also avid painters, she said.

“These paintings also reflect and are a celebration of our fish runs,” Hoover said in her artist statement. “May they be strong and may they return forever to feed our people and to help feed the peoples of this world. My view on life is that there are good runs and there are lesser runs. This reflects the pulse of life.”

The Copper River Gallery, located in the Cordova Museum, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at emesner@thecordovatimes.com. Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.