Among her recent work is the multimedia installation and two-month performance piece Unipkaaġusiksuġuvik (the place of the future/ancient), held at the Anchorage Museum in 2016. Warden created a futuristic version of a qargi (ceremonial and community house in the Iñupiaq language) and led events with audience participation. She described it a space “where the hyper-future meets the super-ancient, a liminal space where myths are born and the Eagle Mother is honored with ceremony and dance.” In 2017 she debuted siku/siku at the first Arctic Arts Summit in Harstad, Norway. Siku is one of the words for ice in Iñupiaq, and it has been used as slang for methamphetamine, part of the devastating drug misuse problems in the Arctic. According to the artist’s website, “the performance serves to illustrate the impact of the rapid colonization of her traditional homelands and how one life can be very different, just through a few different choices, circumstances and reactions an individual has towards life’s challenges, especially systemic barriers, including racism.”
Warden shared that from a young age the people in her life – teachers, family and others around her – supported and inspired her in exploring the arts. One person was the non-Native Alaska artist Claire Fejes. “She was [already] pretty famous as an artist and my babysitter,” Warden said. “She soon recognized I was an artist, encouraged me, and even gave me a painting as a child. I remember her acknowledging that she saw something in me that reminded her of what she did in her early years.”
One approach Warden utilizes in her work is finding intersectionality within a project as a way to explore issues and to educate people. She uses an analytical approach to understanding commonalities and differences between Alaska Native and non-Native experiences to understand aspects of people’s social and political identities. “There are ways to communicate culture in a way that doesn’t need to be linear or logical,” Warden said. “I’m a performer, so I’ve had to put my body on the line and consider what I want to say and be present, face to face with the people. I love poetry because I can write it in quiet privacy in a place, setting, and time of my choosing.”
Regarding her performance art, Warden shared, “I have to say from my personal experience, I was seeking to stretch the content of what is available for Alaska Native artists. I appreciate artists like James Luna.” Luna (1950-2018) was a Puyukitchum/Ipai/Mexican-American Indian performance artist, photographer and multimedia installation artist. His work is well known for challenging the status quo within conventional museum exhibitions and how they present Native Americans.