For Immediate Release on May 12, 2008
Contact: Victoria Lord

Ron Senungetuk Receives $25,000 Distinguished Artist Award
Foundation Also Names Six Fellows, 13 Project Grants

Anchorage - Ron Senungetuk, visual artist, curator, Inupiaq scholar, and former University of Alaska Fairbanks professor of Art and Design has been named 2008 Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist. Artist Photo.jpg, Artist Bio.pdf

A photo of Ron Senungetuk, 2008 Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist Ron Senungetuk

Senungetuk's artwork reflects a progressive interpretation of Alaska Native influences and an exploration of new forms. He is widely recognized and his work has been exhibited and purchased for collections throughout Alaska and the lower 48. Dipytch Seals.jpg, Reindeer Herd.jpg, Aurora Borealis I II III.jpg

The Distinguished Artist Award provides $25,000 in unrestricted funds to allow artists to concentrate and reflect on their work, to immerse themselves in a creative endeavor, or to experiment, explore and develop their artistry more fully.

Six artists have been selected to receive $12,000 Fellowship Awards:

  • Carl Battreall, photographer (Anchorage).
  • Nicholas Galanin, multidiscipline artist working in performance art, video installation, film, sculpture, painting and photography (Sitka).
  • Sonya Kelliher-Combs, visual artist working in mixed-media creating two and three dimensional works (Anchorage).
  • Philip Munger music composer (Wasilla).
  • Linda Smogor, photographer (Homer).
  • Vladimir Zhikhartsev, plein air watercolor painter (Fairbanks).

In addition, Individual Artist Project grants have been awarded to:

  • Audrey Armstrong, $5,000, folk/traditional artist working with fish skin (Anchorage).
  • Michael Engelhard, $5,000, literary artist (Fairbanks).
  • Clara Haley, $5,000, folk/traditional artist Northwest Coast cedar bark weaver (Wrangell).
  • Denise Heimel, $5,000, visual artist working in clay to create sculptural forms (Wasilla).
  • Caroline Kroll, $5,000, folk/traditional artist, wood carver, weaver (Anchorage).
  • Rosemary McGuire, $3,145, literary artist (Cordova).
  • Christopher Miller, $4,999, photographer (Juneau).
  • Leslie Hsu Oh, $5,000, literary artist (Eagle River).
  • Roswell Schaeffer Sr., $5,000, folk/traditional artist working with wood, ivory and bone craft (Kotzebue).
  • Teresa Shannon, $5,000, craft artist working in clay (Fairbanks).
  • Ruth Sorensen, $5,000, oil painter (Anchorage).
  • Tasha Walen, $5,000, craft artist working in glass (Juneau).
  • Sheila Wyne, $5,000, multidiscipline, multi-media artist (Anchorage).

A photo of 'Diptych Seals' by Ron Senungetuk "Diptych Seals" by Ron Senungetuk
Born in Wales, Alaska, on the western tip of the Seward Peninsula, Senungetuk grew up with traditional Inupiaq values, surrounded by a rich cultural heritage. His creative talents and intellect were recognized at an early age and he was sent to study at the Bureau of Indian Affairs high school in Sitka, Alaska. Senungetuk then went on to received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School for American Craftsman at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a degree from Statens Handverks og Kunstindustri Skole, Oslo, Norway, where he studied sculpture and metalsmithing. He is the recipient of many distinguished honors and awards including a Fullbright Scholarship to study in Oslo, Norway, 1960 - 1961; the State of Alaska Governor's Award for the Arts, 1979; and named Professor of Art, Emeritus, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1986.

Dedicated to the creative spirit and an objective to provide educational opportunities for young Native artists, Senungetuk founded and directed the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Native Arts Center (1965-1986) and was head of the UAF Art Department from 1977 until his retirement in 1986. He has been a teacher, mentor, and supporter of talented Alaska Native students who might not have otherwise had the aspiration or opportunity to attend college. During his UAF tenure, he advocated to keep the center active for both established and emerging Native artists who did not necessarily meet the typical university enrollment requirements.

Senungetuk continues to produce art while living in Homer with his wife Turid. He regularly serves on public art committees and national and local art and craft advisory boards. He is a frequent speaker, presenter, and panelist addressing subjects including cultural identity, contemporary Native art, and traditional Alaska Native art.

The Individual Artist Awards is a program of the Arts and Culture Initiative, a ten-year $20 million investment to increase the impact of arts in Alaska. The awards are intended to provide artists with the resources to concentrate and reflect on their work, to immerse themselves in a creative endeavor, and to experiment, explore, and develop their artistry more fully. The Foundation funds artists at various stages in their career whose work is defined by excellence and accomplishment in the arts. To date, the Foundation has awarded $962,621 to 132 artists; five artists have been selected as recipients of the Distinguished Artist Award. Click here to view all Individual Artist Award recipients.

The next deadline for Project Award applications is September 1, 2008 (postmark deadline). More information is available at the Foundation's website or by calling Victoria Lord at 907-297-2827 or toll-free 1-877-366-2700.

About the Foundation

The Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband "E.A." Rasmuson. The Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.