Devita Stipek Writer – Brief Biography

Devita Writer, Alaska Painter (Horse Island Studio)

My great grandfather settled in Nome during the gold rush. My grandfather moved to Seattle as a young man.  I developed a serious affinity for painting at an early age, and it was my career of choice after high school. In 1964, while I was attending art school at Cornish, my grandmother and I traveled to Alaska on the inaugural run of the State Ferry  Matanuska to attend a friend’s wedding in Ketchikan.  It was there that I met my soon to be husband, Alaska fisherman David Kennedy.

As I, both of my sisters married Alaska commercial fishermen and still live in Alaska, so I guess Alaska, and a deep kinship with the sea, is in our blood.

Dave and I raised our family on the fishing boat, in fish camps and fishing towns from Ketchikan to Kodiak.  Eventually we settled in the tiny outer coast fishing village of Elfin Cove where I ran the fuel dock and general store while Dave fished. I continued to draw and paint during this time.

Dave disappeared at sea with his fishing boat a week before Christmas 1979.  I moved my family to Juneau, Alaska.  Out of love and necessity, I turned to making art full time to support my young family. I taught art in local schools and operated a commercial design company.

In 1992, after the last child went off to college, my new husband and I built a cabin on isolated Horse Island and moved there. At the island I painted without distraction.  This was a period of intense artistic development for me.

I now live and Juneau and at the age of over ‘three quarters of a century’ I still work daily at art and can’t imagine doing anything else. Being part of an extended family of Alaska commercial fishermen, I am still, almost daily, involved in fishing in one way or another. This, and my faith in God, keeps me grounded. Sustenance does not come from the grocery store.