We will seek nominations for the 2023 Distinguished Artist from Oct. 10, 2022, through  Dec. 5, 2022. Stay tuned!

Nominations for 2023 are now closed. Please check back in fall 2023 if you want to nominate someone for 2024.

Rasmuson Foundation offers one Distinguished Artist Award annually in recognition of an Alaskan’s creative excellence over multiple decades and significant artistic accomplishments. The amount is increasing in 2023 from $40,000 to $50,000. These artists have chosen to make their lives and careers in Alaska, thereby making our state a more culturally rich place to live. First and foremost, they have made creatively incisive art reflecting their particular and extraordinary perspective. Award recipients will most likely be full-time, professional artists, and will be recognized by peers and experts across the state as among the most highly accomplished in their field. Artists may work in any artistic discipline. Short biographies and galleries of artwork of all past recipients are available here.

Distinguished Artist Award recipients have created an extensive independent body of work representing life-long investigation and development of their personal creativity. They must have decades of experience creating art and contributing to advancement of arts and culture in Alaska.

Past recipients of the Distinguished Artist Award are James H. Barker of Fairbanks, Ernestine Saankaláxt’ Hayes of Juneau, Wayne Price of Haines; Alvin Amason of Kodiak and Anchorage; Gertrude Svarny of Unalaska; Garry Kaulitz and Don Decker of Anchorage; Peggy Shumaker, Kes Woodward, John Luther Adams and John Haines of Fairbanks; Richard Nelson and Teri Rofkar of Sitka; Rie Munoz of Juneau; Ron Senungetuk of Homer; Sylvester Ayek of Nome; and Delores Elizabeth Churchill, Ray Troll and Nathan Jackson of Ketchikan.

    We welcome public nominations of artists who meet the Distinguished Artist Award criteria. Artists can also nominate themselves. Distinguished Artist nominations do not preclude artists from applying for one of Rasmuson Foundation’s other two Individual Artist Awards program grants: a project award or fellowship. However, should the artist be selected to receive the Distinguished Artist award, their application would be removed from the project award or fellowship applicant pool. Please complete and submit the nomination form by December 31, 2022.


    Artists may apply or be nominated for a Distinguished Artist Award if they meet the following eligibility requirements:

    • Artist must be a full-time Alaska resident and have lived in the state for the past five years at the time of the nomination and remain a resident, living in Alaska, for the duration of the grant period.
    • Artist must have multiple decades of experience creating art and contributing to advancement of arts and culture in Alaska and must be established in an artistic career. An established artist has created an extensive independent body of work representing a life-long investigation and development of their personal creativity. They demonstrate a high- aesthetic level of artistic ability with a strong consistency of expression over a professional art career.
    • Artist must currently be producing work.

    Artists are NOT eligible to apply or be nominated if they are:

    • Individuals whose work or project is primarily of a research, scholarly, or commercial nature.
    • Individual Artist Award recipients who received their award in 2020, 2021 or 2022, or who are previous Distinguished Artist Award recipients.


    Selection criteria for awards include:

    • The impact the artist has had on arts and culture in Alaska.
    • The quality of artistic work over their decades-long career.
    • The artist’s creative accomplishments and the promise of future artistic excellence.
    • Eligible artistic disciplines: Choreography/Dance, Crafts, Folk and Traditional Arts, Literary Arts/Scriptworks, Media Arts, Multidiscipline, Music/Music Composition, New Genre, Performance Art, Presentation/Interpretation, and/or Visual Arts
    • A nominated artist’s work must be culturally responsible and not contain elements of cultural appropriation, defined as the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.

    Rasmuson Foundation assembles an Alaska-based panel of artists and arts experts to assist in the selection process. Decisions are final and are not subject to appeal. The Distinguished Artist is honored at a public celebration usually held in May. Please contact the Foundation if you have questions:
    (907) 297-2700; (877) 366-2700 toll-free in Alaska; or email us at arts@rasmuson.org.


    Individual Artist Award recipients will sign a grant agreement before receipt of the funds. The one-year award period typically begins June 1 and ends May 31. At the end of the award period, award recipients will submit a short narrative describing what they have accomplished and its importance to their artistic and career development. Such accomplishments do not have to be solely in the form of artistic products, but may also include knowledge acquired, experience gained, personal growth achieved, and/or experiments undertaken that point the artist in new directions, whether successful or not.


    All nominations submitted online must be completed by 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2022.

    Artist Information

    First Name:
    Last Name:
    In what community does the artist live:
    An approximate number of years artist has practiced:
    Artistic Discipline:
    Choreography/DanceCraftsFolk and Traditional ArtsMedia ArtsMusic/Music CompositionMultidisciplineNew GenreLiterary Arts/ScriptworksPerformance ArtsPresentation/InterpretationVisual Arts
    Contact Information
    Email Address:
    Phone Number:
    Please answer the following questions:
    1. Provide evidence the nominee has consistently practiced art at a high level over their career. For instance, has the artist been recognized by their peers, received local, regional or national awards, been profiled in publications? (250 word max)
    2. Provide evidence the artist has had a broad impact/helped shape arts and culture in Alaska. For instance, did the individual mentor other artists, pioneer innovation, demonstrate leadership in their field? (250 word max)
    3. Where is the work located or where has the artist performed or been published? If known, provide any relevant websites, books or references that contain additional artist information. (250 word max)
    4. Is the artist still practicing? Please provide any information that describes the individual’s current artistic work. (250 word max)
    5. Is there any other information you would like to provide about this artist? (250 word max)

    Nominator Information

    First Name:
    Last Name:
    Relationship to Artist: