[Download list of all 2021 Individual Artist Award recipients .]

For immediate release
Sept. 15, 2021
Contact: Lisa Demer, 907.545.3555

Anchorage, AK – Rasmuson Foundation has named 36 Individual Artist Award recipients for 2021 including one group award.

The Foundation today is announcing ten $18,000 Fellowships and 25 Project Awards of $7,500. Recipients were selected from a pool of nearly 300 applicants by a national panel of artists and creative community leaders from outside of Alaska. Many of the awardees had never applied before.

Juneau writer Ernestine Saankaláxt’ Hayes was previously announced as the 2021 Distinguished Artist recipient.

Collectively, the artists represent 21 communities stretching across Alaska: Akiachak, Anchorage, Bethel, Chevak, Chickaloon, Eagle River, Fairbanks, Haines, Homer, Hooper Bay, Juneau, Kasigluk, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kotzebue, Palmer, Saxman, Sitka, Sutton, Valdez and Wasilla. This year marks the first time the communities of Akiachak, Kasigluk, Saxman and Sutton have had artists represented.

Nine artistic disciplines are represented. They include poets, weavers, writers and filmmakers. One recipient is a puppeteer and another, a choreographer. Artists are working with wood and stone, glass and beads, fur and skin. Some are early career, while others have spent decades honing their practice. They are traditional, contemporary and sometimes both.

“The last year and a half have been tough for everyone but especially for artists, who have had to find creative ways to survive despite shuttered venues and canceled shows,” said Diane Kaplan, Foundation president and CEO. “Many have had to completely reinvent how they practice their art. To show that kind of resolve and adaptability, while maintaining excellence, is inspiring and brings a message of hope for our community.”

Fellowships are awarded to mid-career and mature artists ready for a year of focused creative development.

June Simeonoff Pardue of Sutton has been weaving Alutiiq baskets since she was 12 and now describes herself as an Alaska Native elder. She plans to design and create a contemporary Alutiiq garment of fish skins based on a study of traditional stitching and techniques. Sienna Shields of Anchorage, who describes beadwork as a meditation, plans to create an immersive bead installation out of hundreds of thousands of beads and miles of wire.

Project Awards support artists at all career stages for specific, short-term works. Rejoy Armamento, a second-generation Filipina American, plans to empower youth in Mountain View, the country’s most diverse neighborhood, by guiding them through creation of a mural that celebrates a unique part of Anchorage. Katie Ione Craney of Deishú, or Haines, will create installations for an evolving series of interactive work focused on vision and hearing. She is exploring memory and sensory-based communication.

The sole group award this year is going to Fairbanks musicians Scott Joyce and MaKaela Dickerson, performing as the alternative R&B duo Dumile. They plan to reinvent R&B in their own voice as they explore themes of place and identity.

“The range of artistic mediums, cultures and communities this year is a powerful representation of art in Alaska,” said Enzina Marrari, the Foundation program officer who oversees the Individual Artist Awards. “These artists are pushing boundaries and finding new ways to connect and explore.”

In addition to Project Awards and Fellowships, the Individual Artist Awards also recognizes one mature artist with a Distinguished Artist Award. Ernestine Saankaláxt’ Hayes, 2021 Distinguished Artist, was selected by an in-state panel and is being honored with a $40,000 award for a lifetime of creative excellence. Learn more about Hayes on our Distinguished Artist web feature.

Photos, videos and audio files are available here or on request.

Explore the Foundation’s 2021 IAA webpage to see snapshots of all the artists.

Rasmuson Foundation has recognized exceptional Alaska artists with individual grant awards since 2004. The program now has made a total of 588 grants to individual Alaska artists: 416 Project Awards, 154 Fellowships and 18 Distinguished Artist awards totaling almost $5.6 million.

[Download press release here.]

[Download list of all 2021 Individual Artist Award recipients .]

About the Foundation
Through grantmaking and initiatives, Rasmuson Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Main funding areas are homelessness, health care, the arts, organizational and community development and human services including projects to address domestic violence, child abuse and services for seniors and people with disabilities. The Foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband E.A. Rasmuson.