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2019 Individual Artist Awards

2019 Individual Artist Awards

Welcome to our online feature about the 2019 Individual Artist Award recipients. A national panel of artists and art leaders picked 25 Project Award and 10 Fellowship recipients from 317 applications. An Alaska panel selected the Distinguished Artist. Some of the artists work in traditional art forms, some choose modern or experimental ones, and others combine methods and disciplines. Poets are among those investigating the impact of climate change on Alaska. A multidisciplinary artist is combining 3D images from Mars with symphonic music. A sculptor who works in scrap metal is incorporating elements of her Tlingit heritage. Combined, the artists offer a mosaic of Alaska creativity. Explore here to learn more about the 2019 awardees and their projects.

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Richard Nelson — 2019 Distinguished Artist

Richard NelsonPhoto by Debbie Miller

Richard Nelson of Sitka illustrates Alaska with research, storytelling, film and soundscapes. He is best known for his book "The Island Within," a lyrical exploration of an unnamed Southeast Alaska island, and "Encounters," a radio series recorded in the field about "observations, experiences and reflections about the world around us." Nelson is a cultural anthropologist who apprenticed himself to Alaska Native people and published acclaimed ethnographies about their lifeways. He currently is collaborating on short films about Alaska and the natural world, and he’s creating soundscapes for some of Alaska’s national parks. Reflecting on his work, Nelson says, "Alaska gives you these gifts of knowledge, experience and beauty." Learn more about Nelson.

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Fellowships

Stephen Qacung Blanchett Stephen Blanchett at Camai Dance Fest

Stephen Qacung Blanchett

Bethel

Folk & Traditional Arts

Blanchett will further Alaska Native dance through original works, contemporary masks and dance festivals. With online and digital technology, he will teach traditions of music, dance and performance across Alaska.

Aurora J. Ford Lauren Murphy UFC Pittsburgh

Aurora J. Ford

Anchorage

Literary Arts/Scriptworks

Ford will develop a nonfiction book about female mixed martial arts pioneers, exploring the successes and sacrifices of women fighting for a living in a male-dominated sport. It will feature flyweight contender Lauren Murphy, an Alaskan.

James Hoagland Gigi Glitz

James Hoagland

Juneau

Performance Art

Hoagland models self-acceptance, strength and grace by exploring gender and artistry through drag. He will develop his craft through training in voice, dance, scriptwriting and costume design to further his solo career.

Joan Naviyuk Kane Departure Cover

Joan Naviyuk Kane

Anchorage

Literary Arts/Scriptworks

Kane creates literature around themes of the Arctic, indigenousness, and humanity in a changing environment. She will complete a poetry collection and a volume of essays and will begin a memoir and character-driven flash-fiction.

Bob La Montagne Bob La Montagne sculptural work

Bob La Montagne

Fairbanks

Crafts

La Montagne creates sculptural works from wood and glass. He will complete construction of a hot glass studio, allowing him to expand his body of work and show in more galleries. It will be the only such glass studio in Interior Alaska.

Peter A. Lind Jr. Alutiiq Hunter Biadarka

Peter A. Lind Jr.

Wasilla

Folk & Traditional Arts

Lind, a carver, works in wood and ivory. He is inspired by how Alutiiq art forms communicate heritage, knowledge and traditional lifeways. He will complete a studio on his property so he can work and teach safely indoors year-round.

Neva Mathias Neva Mathias work sample

Neva Mathias

Chevak

Folk & Traditional Arts

Mathias is best-known for traditional dolls of sealskin, leather, grass and other natural materials. She will prepare sealskins, travel to Anchorage for supplies, and seek opportunities to teach her craft to younger artists.

Vivian Faith Prescott Desk by the sea writing Salmon

Vivian Faith Prescott

Wrangell

Literary Arts/Scriptworks

Prescott will create a full-length manuscript of poems as a "climate witness." She will document her relationship to the changing climate in Alaska and how it affects glaciers and salmon through the lens of her indigenous Sámi values.

Jerome Saclamana Walrus Shaman

Jerome Saclamana

Nome

Folk & Traditional Arts

Saclamana, a carver, is known for his interpretation of traditional King Island forms in ivory and bone. He will research museum collections in the Lower 48 and study with other carvers in preparation for creating new work – in wood.

Sara Tabbert Unalaska

Sara Tabbert

Fairbanks

Crafts

Tabbert’s woodblock prints and panels reveal oft-overlooked subjects and environments. She will develop new sculptural skills for her upcoming exhibit, "Lowland," which will explore the strange and beautiful landscapes of Interior Alaska.

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Project Awards

Indra D. Arriaga Delgado

Indra D. Arriaga Delgado

Anchorage

New Genre

Arriaga will create "Opaque Etymologies," with experimental poetry and prose, intaglio prints, and a performance exploring decolonization, identity and language. This connects to the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Katie Basile

Katie Basile

Bethel

Visual Arts

Basile will explore climate change in the YK Delta through portraits and interviews with elders, illustrating the danger of disconnection from traditional knowledge in the Yup’ik teaching, "the weather will follow its people."

Karl Becker

Karl Becker

Cordova

Visual Arts

Becker will illustrate and photograph Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and the abandoned Kennecott copper mine. The work will highlight the area’s significance and connections to Cordova, the railroad and shipping.

Kathleen Bielawski

Kathleen Bielawski

Anchorage

Music Composition

Bielawski will write, compose and record 12 songs for a CD, "The Arctic Question." She will map a journey of self and Alaska through love, the love of land, the hunt, war, corruption, life in exile, and the return to a northern home.

Quinn Christopherson

Quinn Christopherson

Anchorage

Music Composition

Christopherson, a songwriter and performer, uses music to explore his identity and navigate life as an indigenous transgender Alaskan. He will record his first album and purchase an electric guitar and equipment, aiming for a wider audience.

Kristin DeSmith

Kristin DeSmith

Anchorage

Crafts

DeSmith will create "Evolution: Three," a story in ceramics. This will explore damage, heartbreak, integration and hope using ceramic tiles, platters, hand-built flowers and porcelain wall pieces created from molds of the artist’s body.

Michaela Goade

Michaela Goade

Juneau

Visual Arts

Goade will develop ideas for picture books celebrating indigenous culture. Elements of her Tlingit heritage will frame stories that speak to all children. She will produce an "artist's book" for promotion to publishers.

Rhonda Green

Rhonda Green

Ketchikan

Crafts

Green designs sculptures from scrap metal. She will purchase equipment to fabricate 3D pieces and allow year-round work indoors. She looks forward to creating kinetic sculptures that incorporate elements of her Tlingit heritage.

Desiree Hagen

Desiree Hagen

Fritz Creek

Crafts

Hagen creates art with handmade papers. She will purchase professional papermaking equipment not available in Alaska to create a body of work exploring death, grief and remembrance using papers made from clothing of the deceased.

John S. Hagen

John S. Hagen

Haines

Visual Arts

Hagen will photograph salmon season in the village of Ugashik on the Alaska Peninsula. He hopes to reconnect with his Unangan heritage and work through historical tragedies of disease and displacement to create a path home.

Anastasia Shaawat Kah Gei Hobson-George

Anastasia Shaawat Kah Gei Hobson-George

Juneau

Folk & Traditional Arts

Hobson-George will study and document rare chilkat weaving techniques. She will travel to the Canadian Museum of History to examine a singular example of a transition tunic and work with a master weaver to create her own piece.

John Ingman

John Ingman

Sitka

Folk & Traditional Arts

Ingman is Alaska’s only active Uilleann piper. Playing the Irish bagpipes is a calling that connects to his heritage. He will advance his knowledge and performance by studying with a champion piper and traveling to piper gatherings.

Carmen Maldonado

Carmen Maldonado

Eagle River

Literary Arts/Scriptworks

Maldonado describes poetry as "an exercise in linguistic lovemaking." She will rebuild her earthquake-damaged writing studio, complete a collection of poems, submit work to journals, and attend the 2019 Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference.

Erin McKinstry

Erin McKinstry

McCarthy

Media Arts

McKinstry is an audio storyteller who believes that the most extraordinary stories feature ordinary people. She will produce a multimedia series about Alaska farmers, their connection to the land, and impacts of climate change.

Marie Meade

Marie Meade

Anchorage

Folk & Traditional Arts

Meade has been studying, singing and teaching Yup’ik music for 50 years. She will collaborate with others on a CD of traditional Yup’ik songs accompanied by modern instruments. She hopes to share the music of her heritage with the world.

Rebecca Menzia

Rebecca Menzia

Big Lake

Music Composition

Menzia explores femininity through complex melodies, painful concepts and healing textures. She will compose songs for performance and digital release, inspired by circumpolar landscapes with organic sound samples from around Alaska.

Sheryl Maree Reily

Sheryl Maree Reily

Ester

Visual Arts

Reily will create ReWilding: large-scale, site-specific installations using projected images and video to highlight the critical need for human reconnection with nature. Urban images will overlay wilderness, and vice versa.

Kurt Riemann

Kurt Riemann

Anchorage

Multidiscipline

Riemann will create a multimedia composition with stunning 3D images from Mars. "MARS" will include Alaska musicians performing symphonically as "technique collaborators." It will be presented in planetariums and live with orchestra.

Ellie Schmid

Ellie Schmidt

Sitka

Multidiscipline

Schmidt will print and bind a graphic poetry book that explores aging and transformation through stories about Yellowstone’s wolves. She will begin a second experimental book about Alaska women that weaves oral history, science and art.

Jeffery P. Sheakley Jr.

Coffman Cove

Folk & Traditional Arts

Sheakley hand-carves precious metal jewelry in traditional Tlingit and Haida formlines, continuing family and cultural traditions. He will purchase studio equipment to enhance his artistry, efficiency and ability to work safely.

Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone

Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone

Nome

Folk & Traditional Arts

Tahbone will create Iñupiaq fancy fur parkas with patterns from her ancestral homeland in Wales, Alaska, using hides from eight different Arctic animals. She will learn and teach traditional sewing, sustaining valuable cultural knowledge.

Heather A. Warren

Heather A. Warren

Fairbanks

Multidiscipline

Warren will create a full-length audio poetry book exploring the fluidity of their transgender identity. "Binded" will communicate the realities of oppression on a transgender body and the societal elements that keep trans identity "bound."

Gretchen Weiss-Brook

Gretchen Weiss-Brooks

Anchorage

Multidiscipline

Weiss-Brooks tells stories in words, paint, charcoal, photographs, sculpture and prints. She will develop "micro-stories" about family and life in Southcentral Alaska in the 1980s, exploring a generation that is "part cassette tape and part HTML."

Bryan Whitten

Bryan Whitten

Fairbanks

Media Arts

Whitten tells stories in film. He will produce a documentary on the history of the Nenana Ice Classic from its 1906 start, focusing on the 2020 contest. Purchase of professional videography equipment will help him work independently.

Anvil Catlin Williamson

Anvil Catlin Williamson

Fairbanks

Visual Arts

Williamson explores the human condition through figurative animal sculpture. Rodents, insects and endangered species are frequent subjects. Completion of a studio and purchase of a ceramic kiln will help her prepare for an upcoming show.

Meet the 2019 artists

Originals, for artists by an artist

The award necklaces designed and created by Lily Hope use Chilkat weaving techniques to execute ancient Ravenstail patterns. Hope, who is traditionally trained, is a 2017 Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award recipient and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Mentor Artist Fellow.

Project Award Necklace

Project Award

Fellowship Necklace

Fellowship

Distinguished Artist Necklace

Distinguished Artist

$7,500

For a specific, short-term project that has a clear benefit to the artist and the development of their work.

$18,000

To allow the artist to focus their energy and attention for a one-year period on developing their creative work.

$40,000

For a mature artist of recognized stature with a history of creative excellence and accomplishment in the arts.

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Individual Artist Awards Program

These awards provide artists the resources to concentrate and reflect on their work, to immerse themselves in creative endeavors, and to experiment, explore, and develop their artistry more fully. It is our hope that these investments result in substantial contributions to Alaska’s culture, the vibrancy of our communities, and to art itself.

Applications for the 2020 Project Awards and Fellowships open Jan. 15. Nominations for the next Distinguished Artist will be accepted starting Oct. 1. Forms and guidelines are available online or by request. Want to know more about the program and application process? Visit www.rasmuson.org/iaa.

Made by Social Good Studio in Anchorage, Alaska.