Modern Mask - James Schoppert

Where is it?

Concourse C

This artwork surrounds the top of a column at Concourse C near Gate C-12, across from Starbucks.

About the Art

This carving is inspired by the strong contoured lines of traditional Tlingit and Haida formline. However, Schoppert used this inspiration as a point of departure by creating a piece that reflects designs unique to Northwest Coast tribes in the strong, contoured style of Alaska Native art. Blurring the distinctions that typically define "traditional" tribal styles, his carved wooden panels, for example, are painted with bright colors in a very loose, expressionistic manner, a contrast to the traditional and orderly black and red formline designs.

The Details


James Schoppert




Column surround (painted wood sculpture)


3' high x 8' in circumference

Did you know?

In addition to being a visual artist, Schoppert also wrote essays and poetry.

  • <p>© James Schoppert</p>
  • <p>© James Schoppert</p>
  • <p>© James Schoppert</p>
  • <p>© James Schoppert</p>
  • <p>Photo courtesy of Don Wilson</p>

About the Artist

Jim Schoppert is undeniably one of the most influential and celebrated Alaska Native artists of our time. His abstract paintings are largely inspired by the pictographs drawn by coastal Eskimos that predate the 1800s. Translating ancestral drawings on ivory into relevant wood sculpture, Schoppert's Minimalist art echoes his belief that, while it is important for Native American artists to recognize and respect their traditions, it is equally necessary to reach beyond those conventions.

"There is tremendous pressure for conformity from collectors and scholars who want work that fits into the classic definition of Northwest Indian art. When things don't fit their expectations, there's a raised eyebrow and a sort of suggestion of 'What do we do with it now?'" – James Schoppert

Short Bio

He received a B.F.A. from the University of Alaska at Anchorage in sculpture and printmaking and an M.F.A. from the University of Washington in sculpture. Schoppert argued, “It is a spiritual reawakening, not political or economic, itʼs purely intuitive rebirth,” when discussing his interest in the revitalization and abstractions of traditional Native American art. He is represented in private and corporate collections worldwide.

Similar Artwork

Work by Jim Schoppert

Jim Schoppert was commissioned in 1988 to create the Portal to the Pacific; the westbound entrance to the Mount Baker I-90 tunnel incorporates similar innovations visible in the Sea-Tac column surround.

At the Airport

Schoppert's wooden puzzle-like mask has many sculptural similarities to Louise Nevelson's Night Flight #1 at the Sea-Tac Airport. Pieced together to resemble unity from disjunction, the two multi-dimensional sculptures provide shadow and character to the airport. Click on the STQRY link in the Connected Stories module to see Nevelson's piece.

Modern Mask - James Schoppert

This artwork surrounds the top of a column that stands near Gate C-12 and across from Starbucks.