Alaskan Artist Uses Local Element as Medium
By: Alicia Busick
Friday, January 16th, 2015
WASILLA – Local artist, Danika Joy Hopper, may be new to the local art scene but in just a few weeks, her pieces are turning heads. Her shop, The Arctic Squid, is rapidly gaining fandom on social media and the paintings are hardly frozen to the wall for long. Her upbeat vibe resonates through her paintings fostering a life into each original piece she creates. Her unique mediums build attributes into her work, embedding deep layers of stories into the design. She herself has an interesting biography: alligator wrestler, cobra tamer, firefighter, tattoo artist, veterinary technician, and wildlife rescuer with everything from Bald eagles to Capuchin monkeys. Her use of spray paint has been a long standing urban art form typically called ‘Spray Paint Art.’ The work is similar style to Spray Paint Artists of beaming metropolises such as Manhattan or the high tourist venues of Cabo San Lucas but Hopper’s work is uniquely Alaskan: Her mixed mediums also include the use of snow. (Recently elusive in South Central.) The Daily Ledge gets an exclusive look into this upcoming artist.
TDL: Hi Danika… Can we do a little Q & A…?
Danika: A Q&A sounds fun.
TDL: Great! So when did you start painting?
Danika: When I was 3 years old. (I’m 36 now.)
TDL: Wow, that’s impressive. Who is your inspiration?
Danika: Sorry it’s taking me a while to respond, I am painting in between answering questions. I really get inspired by so many different artists. In particular I have fallen in love with work done by Jenny Scobel, Alison Turnbull, and of course Frida Kahlo. I also recently saw some of Elicia Edijanto’s paintings which are just so beautiful. My father has always been an artistic inspiration to me as well- he has always loved creating different things. He is the one who got me started.
TDL: I love Frida’s use of vivid colors. I would be tickled pink to visit the Blue House Museum.
Was your father an artist? What mediums do you prefer?
Danika: My father has always wanted to pursue his art; he loves working with a ton of different mediums. He creates some pretty interesting digital art, eccentric “alien-artifact” yard sculptures, and has even made Raku pottery in the past. He is actually retired from the Air Force– he was a meteorologist.
My favorite thing to work with is trash. I am really fascinated by the idea of being able to turn trash into treasure. I really like projects where I can incorporate trash while also using something more natural, such as leaves, snow, or even moose droppings.
My snow paintings, are created using leftover exterior house paint, car touch-up enamel, half empty spray paint cans and whatever leftover paint I can find with snow and ice thrown in…
I have used plastic shopping bags to create wearable art for Object Runway, an art show in Anchorage. I’ve used plastic water bottles to create flower sculptures for a recycled art show at the IGCA in Anchorage…
And currently, I am working on creating Aurora-inspired sculptures by melting down soda and beer cans and mixing in moose droppings for texture…
TDL: That’s amazing. I see where you get your creativity from. Have you received any recognition for your work?
Danika: No, I haven’t- I’ve kept most of my creations amongst family and friends. I have been pretty busy working in wildlife rescue and as a firefighter (and running our small farmstead) until just recently. I have taken some time off to pursue a career in art.
Now that I have more time on my hands, I hope to try and get my stuff out there more.
TDL: You are a faceted gem of cool. Firefighter, so amazing! What would be a long term goal for your work? Are there any places to view your pieces locally?
Danika: I dream pretty heavily about having a studio of my own (currently, I paint outside, in the backyard behind our super shabby, little apartment, on banks of the Little Su)… I also dream of being featured in local galleries, possible art exhibitions, and maybe even curating my own show someday…. But really, my biggest long term goal, right now, is to be a self-supporting artist who makes enough to own a small piece of land and a tiny farm house.
My pieces are selling so fast, I haven’t had any long enough to set up an “official” place to view them- but I do meet with locals fairly often, to show them what I am working on…
TDL: That’s great to hear. That is a wonderful goal. Do you have any First Fridays in Anchorage? How long does a “snow piece” take to create?
Danika: I don’t have a First Fridays, yet- my decision to try and concentrate on art as a career happened on January 2, 2015…
Haha… So I’m working on getting out there.
Each snow piece takes a few days to a few weeks to finish, depending on the weather. The colder it is, the longer it takes.
TDL: How can the public view more of your creations?
Danika: My art can currently be viewed on the Facebook page, or by contacting me by email and setting up a meet in greet. It’s literally hanging on the walls of our kitchen and bedroom- so “in person” viewing is by appt only – for now. Just until I can find a place for it to be displayed.