North·Audio

Gwich'in artist uses 3-D printing to reproduce ancient artifacts

Gwich'in artist Tania Larsson is using cutting-edge technology to breathe new life into ancient artifacts.

Internship at the Smithsonian Institution offers a chance to reclaim the past

Tania Larsson's 3D-printed clutch. Larsson is Gwich’in and Swedish and she grew up in Europe with roots in the N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Delta. (Submitted by Tania Larsson)

A Gwich'in artist is using cutting-edge technology to breathe new life into ancient artifacts.

Tania Larsson is scanning Gwich'in artifacts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and using those scans to reproduce the artifacts using 3-D printing.

Larsson, who grew up in Europe but has roots in the Mackenzie Delta through the Firth family, has used the new printing technology to create objects such as her porcupine-inspired printed handbag.

The internship at the prestigious museum and research facility, which Larsson has just completed, enabled her to see ancestral artifacts such as tools and clothing. It's an experience she called life-changing.  

Gwich'in designer Tania Larsson used her internship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. to scan and 3-D print ancient artifacts. (Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian)
The Smithsonian showed great respect for indigenous values and treated the objects as spiritually important, she told CBC News.

"Sometimes it's really hard to deal with the amount of cultural loss we've experienced.

"And it makes me feel really good to know that our belongings are being treated so well and taken care of. And just being able to hold them and see them in real life was very impactful," said Larsson, who is now a student at the Institute of American Indian art in Santa Fe, N.M. 

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