For Immediate Release on May 15, 2013
Contact: Cassandra Stalzer, 907-334-0520

Rofkar named Distinguished Artist

Anchorage -  Sitka basket and textile weaver Teri Rofkar has been named the 2013 Rasmuson Distinguished Artist. The $40,000 award, announced today in Anchorage, recognizes an artist with stature and a history of creative excellence. Rofkar is the tenth Alaskan artist to receive the award, and she joins a prestigious list of previous winners including Kes Woodward (2012), Ray Troll (2011), John Luther Adams (2010), Nathan Jackson (2009), Ronald Senungetuk (2008), Rie Munoz (2007), Delores Churchill (2006), John Haines (2005) and Sylvester Ayek (2004).

“Teri Rofkar has lectured, demonstrated, taught, encouraged and promoted Tlingit weaving across the country,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “Not only is she an artist of amazing talent and stature, she is also the most delightful, generous and patient person you will probably ever meet.”

See a video about Teri and her work here.

Rofkar has numerous public installations of her Raven’s Tail weaving and basketry, and also works in hand spun wool, hand-sown moccasins, carved items, blankets and hand felted items.  She was named a National Heritage Fellow “Living Treasure,” in 2009, a United States Artist Fellow in 2006 and won the Governor’s Award for Alaska Native Art and the Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership in 2004. Rofkar has served as an Artist in Residence at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage and at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center in Sitka. She has conducted workshops at the NMAI National Museum of American Indian in New York and has been a culture bearer on cruise ships and in Sitka schools. She is a graduate of Dimond High School in Anchorage and says part of her education has been the encouragement and help received from Elders.

In addition to the Distinguished Artist Award, Rasmuson Foundation also awarded 25 Project Grants (worth up to $7,500 each) and ten Fellowships (worth up to $18,000 each). These artists were chosen from a total of 366 applicants, whose applications were judged by an esteemed national panel of artists and arts leaders. A complete list of award recipients is attached.

This year’s winners represent 14 different communities across Alaska including Anchorage, Chugiak, Douglas, Fairbanks, Healy, Homer, Juneau, Soldotna, North Pole, Ward Cove, Talkeetna, Ketchikan, Nome and Sitka.

Note: photos of the artists, samples of the work, and scenes from today's event are available here.


2013 Fellows

  • Maria Shell is a craft artist from Anchorage known for her intricate and modern patchwork quilts. In the upcoming year, she is going to experiment with new techniques for preparing and stitching textiles – not for the bed, but for three-dimensional sculptural works for the human body. This is Maria’s second Individual Artist Award.
  • Joan Kane is a literary artist based in Anchorage with deep roots in King Island.  She has completed two books of poetry, has had one play produced on the live stage, and is currently working on a new manuscript and her first novel. All this while raising two sons, now age 3 and 5. Joan will use her Fellowship to advance some current projects through travel, research and time to focus on her writing. This is Joan’s second Individual Artist Award.
  • If there were a Chilkat robe of many colors, it would certainly be worn by Clarissa Rizal. Clarissa works in many media and disciplines; and she applies her artistry to wood, canvas and fiber. She has taught Chilkat weaving for nearly 25 years, and her work has been exhibited across the country. During her Fellowship, Clarissa will mount her first solo exhibition, complete some weaving projects, and teach others.
  • Erin Hollowell is a literary artist who, in two weeks, will release her first poetry collection. Erin has had work published in several literary journals including the Alaska Quarterly Review and Poetry Quarterly, and she has been featured in two anthologies. During her Fellowship, Erin will support the release of her collection and create new work. Erin lives in Homer.
  • Sharon Kay weaves the tiny grass baskets that are a cultural hallmark of the Aleutian islands. She learned to weave the Attu baskets 30 years ago, has taught and demonstrated the technique in many settings.  She has also self-published a book about weaving Attu baskets. With her Fellowship, Sharon will travel to learn more about basket weaving techniques, document traditional methods for gathering and preparing grasses from Atka for weaving, and pass on her knowledge to others through scheduled teaching engagements.
  • Arlitia Jones is a playwright and poet from Anchorage. Her Fellowship will provide her the luxury of time – time to complete her latest work, titled Hellraiser, about the life of labor organizer Mother Jones. Two of Arlitia’s full-length plays have been produced since 2008, and two more will be produced in the upcoming year.
  • Anchorage-based choreographer Becky Kendall is the founder and artistic director of Momentum Dance Collective, and a founding partner of the Light Brigade, a collaboration of artists producing urban arts interactions. She will take time away from her day jobs to focus on training, rehearsing and planning next year’s Light Brigade season of multimedia performances.
  • Norman Jackson carves in the tradition of the Tongass Tlingit. He works in silver and gold, and varieties of wood indigenous to Southeast Alaska. With his Fellowship, Norman will travel to collaborate with Maori artists for an exhibit planned in New Zealand next year. He will also study the Northwest Indian artifact collections held at the Smithsonian and Field Museums. Norman lives in Ketchikan. This is his second Individual Artist Award.
  • Annie Duffy is a craft artist living in Fairbanks whose current work focuses on vessels made of paper, cotton, bent wood, and beeswax. During her Fellowship, Annie will upgrade her studio to allow for larger and site-specific vessels for exhibiting in Seattle, Homer and Fairbanks. Annie will also expand her connections outside of Alaska and in doing so will travel to Sweden to create new work. This is Annie’s second Individual Artist Award.
  • Ahna Iredale, a ceramics artist from Homer, experiments with the clay and glazes laden with elements and minerals from volcanic ash and the volcanic-rich soils of the lower Kenai Peninsula region. She will build a new wood-fired kiln and create new work.

2013 Project Awards

  • Anna Lynch is a singer/songwriter from Anchorage who will use her project award to record her first full-length album of all original music
  • Christine Byl is a writer from Healy who will launch a national book tour this year following the publication of her first book titled Dirt Work – a nonfiction account of life on a wilderness trail crew. This is Christine’s second project award.
  • Deborah Schildt produces documentaries for a global audience. Her award will assist in the completion of a film that examines change in the environment, culture and economies for the people in Little Diomede and Wales, Alaska. Deborah lives in Anchorage.
  • Alice Bassler Sullivan is an Anchorage-based choreographer, dancer and teacher. With her award, she will engage in short-term residencies to learn, create, and inspire her future work.
  • Nathan Shafer works in the emerging field of augmented reality installations. He will use his award to build - in the digital world – the completely-domed city of the future, which had been planned for construction in 1968 at what is now Point MacKenzie. Nathan lives in Anchorage.
  • Constance Baltuck is a painter whose work is based on the landscape and flora between the shores of the Gastineau Channel where she lives in Juneau. Her award will allow for exploration, experimentation, risk taking, and ultimately a solo exhibit at the Juneau Douglas City Museum in the fall of 2014.
  • Karl Pasch is a clarinetist who is the second-generation of his family to play with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra. With his award, Karl will learn and stretch, collaborate with world-class musicians, and participate in the Willa-Lobos Chamber Music Symposium in Brazil.
  • Christy NaMee Eriksen is a spoken word artist living in Juneau who has performed on stages large and small. She will undertake the production of the first solo CD of her work, combining her pieces with work from musicians and other spoken word artists.
  • Lucian Childs is a writer with a love and understanding of the short story. Lucian plans to travel to several writers’ conferences and retreats, and use the inspiration, connections, and learning to create five new stories and curate a collection for publication.  Lucian lives in Anchorage.
  • Nahaan is a Tlingit carver of wood and metals who will use his award to create – under the guidance of master carver and 2009 Distinguished Artist Nathan Jackson -- a full-size, 35-foot-long traditional canoe from a red cedar. Nahaan lives in Ward Cove.
  • Christofer Taylor is a painter from Juneau whose work has been focused on the human figure. Beginning in children’s book illustration, then veering into art with political and social commentary, Christofer now plans to push himself deeper into the world of abstraction. His journey will require supplies and live models – both of which will be supported with this award.
  • Sara Tabbert, who lives and works in Fairbanks, started as a printmaker, but is recently finding that the carved block – not the print it was destined to make – is the finished piece. She will use her award to collaborate with furniture and cabinet makers in the development of new work.
  • Etsuko  Kimura Pederson is a pianist and composer living in Fairbanks who will use her award to create new, nature-inspired pieces and make high quality recordings of a selection of her work. This is Etsuko’s second project award.
  • Linda Infante Lyons is a Anchorage-based visual artist who is ready to explore larger format work now that she’s moved into a larger studio space. She will use her award to outfit the studio with supplies and equipment.
  • Holly Nordlum is a visual artist and printmaker born in Kotzebue and currently living in Anchorage. She will attend classes at a print workshop this summer, and outfit her studio with equipment and supplies to execute larger, multi-colored designs.
  • Joan Nockels Wilson is a writer who has been working for ten years to complete a nonfiction spiritual memoir. With her award, Joan will take a sabbatical from her job as an attorney to complete her manuscript. Joan lives in Anchorage.
  • George Overpeck, from Homer, is a wood turner who produces bowls, vessels and sculptural items from trees found on the Kenai Peninsula. With his award, he will purchase new tools to enable him to make bigger and thinner pieces.
  • Ricky Tagaban works in many forms including jewelry making, print making and Chilkat weaving. With this award, he will purchase a loom and supplies to focus on weaving a Chilkat style robe. Ricky lives in Juneau.
  • Keeley Boyle has been writing and performing music since she was 13 years old. She will use her award to make her first solo record. Keely lives in Soldotna.
  • Charles Renfro is a photographer born and raised in Anchorage who travels each year to the Northwest Arctic Borough to teach skiing. With his award, he will purchase professional photography equipment.
  • Leighan Falley is a visual artist and mountain climber living in Talkeetna who paints scenes from high altitudes. She will use her award to support expeditions for the creation of new work.
  • Kathie Cook is a fiber artist from North Pole who works works in quilting. With her award she will launch into a year-long exploration of fabric dyeing, painting and printing for use in new work.
  • Kendra Nichols-Takak is a film maker from Nome who will create a short documentary on a leader from the Bering Strait region.
  • John Whittier is a photographer and film maker from Homer who will purchase new computer equipment and software to accelerate his editing skills.
  • Merry Ellefson moved to Juneau in 1990 to work with Perseverance Theater and grow as a writer committed to developing plays inspired by local events and people. With her award, Merry will further develop a script for a play that explores the complicated issues surrounding Juneau’s high rate of homelessness.

About the Individual Artist Awards
In December 2003, the Rasmuson Foundation Board of Directors launched a multi-year initiative to make a significant investment into the arts and cultural resources of the state. Designed with the help from artists and arts organizations from around the state, the initiative prioritized support to practicing artists themselves as a key strategy to ensure Alaska enjoys a vibrant art and culture community.

This is the tenth year of the Individual Artist Awards program, and as of today, the program has awarded 303 grants, totaling more than $2.3 million, directly to Alaska artists.  The purpose of the awards is to allow artists to seek a variety of creative opportunities, including providing them with the time necessary to focus on creative work.

About the Foundation
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.