Don Decker named 2016 Rasmuson Foundation Distinguished Artist
Total of 36 Artists Selected for Awards
Anchorage, AK – Today Rasmuson Foundation announced that Anchorage artist Don Decker has been named the 2016 Distinguished Artist. The $40,000 award recognizes an artist with stature and a history of creative excellence.
“Don Decker has been uncompromising in his vision of art making. His ever-changing and challenging style of art making has not made for an easily accepted career. He’s always appeared unafraid to cross over art mediums, all the while being committed to topical subject matter in his work,” wrote one nominator.
Actively making art in Alaska since 1971, Decker has had 35 solo exhibitions and was included in 250 exhibitions in Alaska and juried shows in 20 states. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Museum of the North, State Museum, Alaska Contemporary Art Bank, State of Hawaii Collection, Del Mar College National Collection and Alaska Percent for Art.
Decker has been an Adjunct Instructor of Art at the University of Alaska Anchorage since 1992 and has taught 90 art courses at Alaska colleges. He earned his Master of Arts from The University of Guam and Master of Fine Arts from The Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the thirteenth artist to receive the award and he joins a prestigious list of previous winners including Garry Kaulitz (2015), Peggy Shumaker (2014), Teri Rofkar (2013), Kes Woodward (2012), Ray Troll (2011), John Luther Adams (2010), Nathan Jackson (2009), Ronald Senungetuk (2008), Rie Muñoz (2007), Delores Churchill (2006), John Haines (2005) and Sylvester Ayek (2004).
In addition to the Distinguished Artist, Rasmuson Foundation has selected 10 artists to receive Fellowship Awards ($18,000 each) and 25 who will receive Project Awards ($7,500 each). The recipients include literary artists, photographers, crafts artists, poets, multi-disciplinary artists, carvers, composers, folk and traditional artists, performance artists, novelists, and installation artists.
The awardees were chosen from nearly 400 applications, and represent 11 communities across Alaska: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Fritz Creek, Galena, Hooper Bay, Hydaburg, Juneau, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Naknek, and Tenakee Springs.
Phillip Blanchett from Anchorage will use songs he has composed to develop a theatrical performance that illustrates cultural values and explores artistic themes relevant to both Yup’ik and non-Yup’ik audiences.
Ben Huff, a Juneau photographer, will be starting Ice Fog Press, an independent publisher that will make art and photography books about Alaska, by Alaskans. Ice Fog Press’ first book will be a small edition of his work titled “Transmission,” a series of pictures of satellite dishes at night.
Libby Roderick of Anchorage is a folk/Americana music artist who will be recording new songs, producing videos of her live performances and enhancing her digital presence by upgrading her website to be more interactive.
Linda Infante Lyons from Anchorage will be focusing on ways to link her art to projects that address social issues, and use her creativity as a catalyst for positive change. She will also take time to travel, visit communities and explore potential cultural, scientific and social art projects.
Melissa Mitchell, an Anchorage singer-songwriter, will focus on career growth through songwriting, guitar and piano lessons, and songwriting workshops and conferences, with the goal of creating new material for a solo album.
Keren Lowell of Anchorage will be travelling to establish connections with artists, arts administrators, galleries and museums in Alaska and the lower 48.
Nathan Shafer from Anchorage is a new media artist who will be creating an artist’s book titled “Dirigibles of Denali,” which will use augmented reality technology to construct three virtual cities in Alaska that were part of proposals from the mid-twentieth century for domed-covered communities in Alaska.
Karrie Pavish Anderson of Galena will be purchasing a new laptop to record ideas and demos of new compositions to seed a new album. She will also spend time with Galena elders to learn more about the community’s history to enrich her music writing.
Rebecca Lyon from Anchorage will travel to London and Paris, visiting art museums and galleries, and then attend the opening of the exhibition “Facing Forward: Contemporary Alaskan Native Art Goes Abroad” at the Musée de Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France. Following the exhibition, she will attend an international art symposium in Paris.
Stephen Qacung Blanchett, an Anchorage-based musician, will branch out on a solo career to share his music in new places and produce musical traditions yet to be explored in Alaska. His first venture will be a solo concert for the Annual Elders and Youth Conference in Fairbanks.
2016 Project Awards
Tom Chung of Anchorage will travel to various locations around Alaska, from Barrow to Sitka, to gather stories revolving around the theme of the intersection of modern and traditional life and photo-document his encounters to create a series of 10 large-scale oil paintings.
Emily Anderson is a Fairbanks musician who will record a pop album of original music, titled “Simple Things,” collaborating with a group of instrumentalists, arrangers, and producers based out of Alaska, Boston, Nashville, and L.A.
Christy NaMee Eriksen, a spoken word artist in Juneau, will document her work through the production of three videos featuring new and revised poems, and will use the videos to gain exposure and pursue more teaching and performance opportunities.
Chloe Keller from Anchorage will create footwear for babies and toddlers, specifically seal skin ballet slipper-style shoes and moccasins made from leather, sea otter and seal skin.
Joshua Corbett is a documentary photographer in Anchorage. He will make two documentary photography expeditions to St. Lawrence Island, attend a photography workshop as part of an advanced mentored study program, and exhibit his work in 2017.
Bryan Fierro is an Anchorage-based writer who plans to enroll in the UCLA Professional Screenwriting Program Series and attend an Alumni Residency at Pacific University to aid in writing a screenplay titled, “Inside Passage.”
Jacqueline Madsen from Kodiak is a woodcarver who is delving into marionette making. She will complete a collection of Alutiiq dolls with moving parts. Photographs, along with stories written for each doll, will be used in an exhibition and a manuscript for publishing.
Anna Hoover of Naknek will create a short documentary film exploring the history of Kanatak, a no-longer-inhabited village on the Alaska Peninsula. The project will share the untold story of the Kanatak people and provide an information base for future generations.
Steven Stone, Sr. from Hooper Bay will be purchasing a new work shed, which will give him more space and a safer work environment. He plans to work with young people in his community and show them how their ancestors once lived.
Jenni May Toro of Anchorage will be writing and recording songs for an upcoming album in collaboration with Grammy-winning producer James Frazee.
Joe Yelverton, an Anchorage photographer, plans to create an environmental portrait of the men and women of the Alaska Air National Guard Rescue Unit, to illuminate the enigmatic qualities of highly skilled people who devote their lives to helping others.
Rebecca Menzia from Fairbanks will take 10 recent compositions into La La Land studios in Louisville, Kentucky, to record an album that she can use to apply for summer festivals.
Seth Kantner, a Kotzebue-based writer, will be completing a book about the Western Arctic caribou herd and the people of that region. His time will include conducting interviews in multiple villages and spending nearly two months observing the herd’s migration.
Gretchen Sagan from Anchorage was commissioned by the Musée de Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France to donate work for the exhibition “Facing Forward: Contemporary Alaskan Native Art Goes Abroad.” She will be present for the opening reception and participate in an artist symposium.
Jacinthe TwoBulls of Hydaburg will harvest materials and create a contemporary cedar bark outfit, including a cedar bark wrap dress lined with hand painted silk, a large brimmed sun hat and a purse, also made from cedar bark.
Chad David Benjamin Taylor, an installation artist based in Anchorage, will be expanding the capabilities of his studio through equipment and material purchases, allowing him to prepare work for two future events, “Anchorage Design Weekend,” and the Alaska Botanical Garden’s “Art in the Garden Fair.”
Karl Pasch of Anchorage will compose a jazz concerto for clarinet and small orchestra and will premiere this work as a featured guest artist at the 2017 International Villa-Lobos Chamber Music Festival in Los Angeles. The recorded performance will be released on CD and an Alaska premiere will follow in Anchorage.
Patrice Aphrodite Helmar, a Juneau photographer, will purchase a large-format camera and complete a body of work titled “Dirty Old Town,” photographs of a familiar circle of hometown haunts in Juneau. She will mount an exhibition in 2017.
Joan Naviyuk Kane from Anchorage will purchase a new laptop computer and continue work on several projects, including a full-length poetry manuscript, a nonfiction manuscript and a script for a multimedia installation. Joan will also accept residencies at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Manasota Key, Florida, and the Lannan Writing Residency in Marfa, Texas.
Darius Mannino of Tenakee Springs will develop a body of solo puppetry titled “Menu,” seven short works that will be performed “on demand” in a small toy theater box located at his bakery.
Eric Mouffe, an Anchorage woodworker and luthier, will be acquiring tools, equipment and materials to begin construction of two new guitars. He will also be refining his finishing skills and plans plan to enter one of his guitars into the Artistry in Wood exhibition in 2017.
Sarah E. Mitchell, of Fairbanks, will be producing “The Best of Bluebell: A Commemorative Album,” a collection of songs by the late Alaska songwriter and pianist Jim Bell, who entertained for 40 years at the Palace Saloon in Fairbanks.
Ruby Suzanna Jones from Anchorage will re-stage, document and expand two previous works – “The Birthday Girl” and “Slut Shame.” She will also create and document a new projection-enhanced live performance.
Keeper Theodore Nott, an Anchorage-based glass artist, will purchase and install equipment and construct a glass studio, where his creations will be on display in the studio’s gallery space.
Desiree Hagen of Fritz Creek will lead the “Invasive and Native Papermaking Project” to harvest, forage and process plant fibers and make them into paper and natural dyes. Her goal is to eradicate these species and create awareness of their effects on the ecosystem.
About the Individual Artist Awards Celebration Event
The 2016 Individual Artist Awards Celebration Event will be held May, 19, 2016, at the Sydney Laurence Theatre in the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. The invitation-only event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and is open to credentialed media. Artist award winners will be in attendance.
About the Individual Artist Awards
In December 2003, the Rasmuson Foundation Board of Directors launched a multi-year Arts and Culture 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 thirteenth year of the Individual Artist Awards program, which has awarded 409 grants totaling more than $3.5 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
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.