For Immediate Release
Contact: Cassandra Stalzer, 907-334-0520

Anchorage –  Four artists will spend eight-week residencies in the Lower 48 as the first Alaskans to participate in the new Rasmuson Foundation Artist Residency Program. They are:

• Artist and educator Jimmy Riordan will serve his residency at Zygote Press, Cleveland, Ohio.
• Playwright, poet and director Arlitia Jones will serve her residency at Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Woodside, CA.
• Inupiaq visual artist Gretchen Sagan will serve her residency at Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM.
• Textile artist Maria Shell will serve her residency at McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC.

The Artist Residency Program is one element of the Foundation’s Arts & Culture Initiative, a major commitment to the arts in Alaska.  The initiative, started in 2003, is designed to strengthen cultural institutions across the state, encourage the development of new work by creative artists, and increase public access to and participation in cultural experiences.

Earlier this fall, the Artist Residency Program embedded four Lower 48 artists in Alaska arts centers. Their residencies conclude Nov. 15. Read more about them here.

About the artists selected for residencies in the Lower 48:

Arlitia Jones is a playwright, poet and director, as well as co-founder of TossPot Productions in Anchorage, Alaska. Her latest full length play, “Come to me, Leopards,” had a workshop production in October 2013 at Cyrano’s Theatre Company (Cyrano’s) in Anchorage. Her play “Rush at Everlasting” received a reading with the Northwest Playwrights’ Alliance at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in spring 2012 and a full production at Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska in January 2014, and Anchorage in February 2014.

Her short play, “Tornado” was just selected as a winner in the 38th Annual Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival in New York City in July 2013. She is the recipient of an Individual Artists Fellowship from Rasmuson Foundation. Jones is also a playwright in residence with the Seattle Repertory Theatre for 2013-2014 seasons. Along with Cyrano’s, Jones received a grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum to write “Make Good the Fires” in celebration of 50 years of Alaska Statehood. “Make Good the Fires” was produced in March 2009 at Cyrano’s.

Jimmy Riordan is an Alaska artist and educator. Though technically trained in book-arts, his work is not bound by any specific media. Riordan often collaborates, asking the audience and other artists for their participation. Community and location play a large role in his choice of form and development of content.

Riordan is the founder of Rabbit Rabbit Press, a member of the Great Alaska Brick Company and co-director of the Girdwood Summer Arts Camp. He teaches for the University of Alaska and regularly participates in artist residencies in rural Alaska. His artwork has been shown internationally and the bookwork comprising Le Roman du Lievre can be found in the library collections of the New York MOMA and the Tate Britain. Jimmy received a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Project Award in 2010.

Gretchen Sagan is an Inupiaq artist from Alaska. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is a part of many private and public collections. She received her B.F.A. from the Estonian national art academy, Eesti Kunstiakadeemia, in Tallinn (2002).

In addition to numerous solo and group shows domestically and abroad, her work was recently featured in the “Continental Biennale of Contemporary Native Arts” at the National Museum of Popular Culture in Mexico City. This exhibition is currently traveling throughout Mexico. Sagan received the Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Project Award in 2005 and a Fellowship in 2010, and has received several awards from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Native Arts Foundation. She currently divides her time between studios in her hometown of Anchorage and Tallinn, Estonia.

Maria Shell has been making stitched textile art since 2001. Her work has been shown in many national juried exhibitions including “Quilts=Art=Quilts, Fantastic Fibers, Art Quilt Elements, National Fiber Art Directions, and Form, not Function,” where she received the Viewer’s Choice Award. Maria received a Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Project Award in 2009, a Sustainable Arts Foundation 2011 Winter Award, and a Rasmuson Fellowship in 2013.

In 2012, she was one of 44 artists from the northwest invited to participate in the Bellevue Arts Museum’s Biennial “High Fiber Diet.” In summer 2013, she was a featured artist for the Surface Design Association’s International Conference in San Antonio, Texas. In 2014, her work can be seen in solo shows at the Bunnell Street Arts Center in Homer, Alaska; the Wiseman Gallery in Grants Pass, Oregon; and the Fitton Center of Creative Arts in Hamilton Ohio.

About the Foundation
Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband “E.A.” Rasmuson. Through grantmaking and initiatives, the Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Over the past decade, the Foundation has invested $22 million to support arts and culture in Alaska. Past awards can be searched here.