James Schoppert Biography

James Schoppert was an American artist, educator, and author. Among his best known and most admired works are carved and painted panels.




James Schoppert was born on May 28, 1947, in Juneau, Alaska, United States. On his mother’s side, he was the grandson of Tlingit Taku chief Jimmy Fox while his father was of German ancestry. He had two sisters.


In 1975 James Schoppert received an Associate degree from Anchorage Community College (now University of Alaska Anchorage). In 1975 he attended the Instituto de Allende. In 1978 Schoppert obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In 1981 he gained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Washington, Seattle.


From 1979 to 1982 James Schoppert was a chair of the traditional Native Arts advisory panel at the Alaska State Council on the Arts. From 1981 to 1982 he was a member of the Native cultural steering committee of the State of Alaska. In 1982 Schoppert served as a member of the art selection committee at the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

From 1985 to 1988 he was a trustee of the Institute of Alaska Native Arts. From 1986 to 1989 James was a member of the Washington State Arts Commission. From 1987 to 1988 he worked as a member of the board of directors at Atlatl. In 1981 he became an assistant professor of visual arts at the University of Alaska and a visiting professor in 1987. In 1987 he was an artist-in-residence at Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

Schoppert had numerous solo and group shows throughout the United States, including exhibitions at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the American Indian Contemporary Arts, Alaska Native Arts and Crafts Gallery, Sacred Circle Gallery, Yellowstone Arts Center, and Marilyn Butler Fine Art Gallery. His work represented in permanent collections, including those of Alaska State Museum, City of Seattle, Washington, Heard Museum, Washington State Portable Art Collection, and Yukon Baha’i Institute.


  • James Schoppert is one of the most influential and celebrated Alaska Native artists of our time. He was the recipient of numerous art awards and commissions. His work was prominently featured in "Beyond Blue Mountains," a permanent traveling collection of contemporary Native American artworks commissioned by the Washington State Arts Commission.


  • Thunderhead

  • Blueberries

  • Clam Shell 

  • Modern Mask



James Schoppert's abstract paintings are inspired by the "pictographs" drawn on ivory by the coastal Eskimos, before 1800. He described his carved panels, which are typically clean pure shapes with smooth finishes, as "minimal art." His art reflected his belief that it was important for Native-American artists to recognize and respect their traditions and equally important to stretch beyond those traditions. His work frequently challenged cultural stereotypes.


James Schoppert was a quiet, gentle kind of person with a good sense of humor.


James Schoppert had two daughters, Shevea and Sidiya.

Jackie Schleifman


Marion Evans


Shevea Schoppert


Sidiya Schoppert