Jayson Smart, Program Officer

Yesterday Rasmuson Foundation awarded its 11th round of Individual Artist Awards. The awards are part of an initiative to support the culture of Alaska, the vibrancy of our communities, and art itself.

Over time the program has awarded 338 grants totaling more than $2.7 million dollars, all going directly to Alaska artists. This year 274 applications were reviewed by a highly regarded national panel of artists and arts leaders. These panelists were duly impressed with not only the high standards of the 36 chosen artists, but also by the diversity and distinct voice of Alaska’s artists this body of work represents.

Each year, Rasmuson Foundation selects one Distinguished Artist to receive a $40,000 award. This year’s distinguished artist is Peggy Shumaker. Her works are vivid, visual and, at times, visceral. Her medium of choice isn’t oil, acrylic or watercolor. She paints with words. Poetic words. The kind that create indelible images in our minds, for subjects as diverse as rainforests, hidden rivers, glaciers and deserts. She even wrote a lyrical memoir about the fragile human psyche and its immense capacity for forgiveness.

Shumaker’s poetry has been described as “iridescent,” “bearing exquisite beauty and purity” and “an entrancing meditation.” She’s a professor emerita and a lecturer. Her poems have been published throughout this country, and in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Shumaker was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and served as the Alaska State Writer Laureate. As of yesterday we are proud to also call her a Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist.

A recorded live stream of yesterday’s event is available to watch here. For a list of all the 2014 Individual Artist Awards please visit our press release. Portraits of award recipients can be found here and photos of the artists’ work are viewable here.

One Response to “Peggy Shumaker: 2014 Distinguished Artist”

Carla Beam says: May 26th, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Great choice!!! Peggy is so much more than a brilliant writer. She is a teacher and, with her husband Joe, a generous contributor to those programs and projects that expand opportunity for others. To have a gift such as hers is exceptional. To share it so joyfully and generously with others is rare.

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