Updated Sept. 14, 2022
Contact: Lisa Demer, 907-545-3555
Anchorage, AK – One artist will work on her technique sewing sea otter fur. Another will make an interactive virtual reality film to include experiences of temperature and smell. A visual artist who collaborates with scientists on forest pathology and climate change will create new, large-scale paintings.
They are among 37 Individual Artist Award recipients named by Rasmuson Foundation in 2022. Awardees include three groups and, for only the second time in Foundation history, a special President’s Award.
The honors include ten $18,000 Fellowships and 24 Project Awards of $7,500. The artists being announced today were selected from a pool of 230 applicants by a national panel of artists and creative community leaders from outside of Alaska. Many of the awardees had never applied before.
Fairbanks photographer James H. Barker was previously announced as the 2022 Distinguished Artist recipient, the first time for a photographer to receive that honor.
“This year marks our 19th Individual Artist Awards. The program has evolved since 2004 but one constant remains: The best way to support the arts is to put money directly in the hands of artists,” said Diane Kaplan, Foundation president and CEO.
In addition to those recipients, a $7,500 President’s Award honorarium goes to an individual devoted to the arts and to the community: Duke Russell. A self-taught artist and Spenardian, his iconic illustrations are plays on Alaska characters and stories. He received an Individual Artist Award back in 2004, the program’s first year, and is only the second person to receive a President’s Award. The first was Bruce Farnsworth in 2011.
“I’ve always loved Duke’s humor and commentary on the challenges and beauty of Alaska life,” Kaplan said. “This year, his work at the Centennial Park campground for those experiencing homelessness was a true act of service. He provided hundreds of meals for the most vulnerable of our neighbors. I’m delighted to announce that Duke is receiving the President’s Award.”
Collectively, the 2022 artist awardees represent 15 communities stretching across Alaska: Akiak, Anchorage, Eagle River, Fairbanks, Healy, Homer, Hope, Juneau, Kaktovik, Larsen Bay, Palmer, Sitka, Soldotna, Talkeetna and Utqiaġvik.
Awardees include filmmakers and photographers, poets and painters, traditional artists and those experimenting with technologies. One of the groups, Northwoods Book Arts Guild, will contribute to an international project creating art sold in repurposed cigarette vending machines.
Fellowships are awarded to mid-career and mature artists ready for a year of focused creative development. Alex Sallee of Anchorage is creating a short film centered on an urban Inuit queer teen and her mentorship by an older practitioner of traditional skin stitch and stick and poke tattoo. Kathy Turco is producing a series of podcasts that integrate storytelling and Alaska natural sounds collected from her 30 years of recording in the wild.
Project Awards support artists at all career stages for specific, short-term works. Sean Enfield will draw on his bi-racial heritage in his essay collection, “Who Be Our Teacher — Essays on Race, Education and Identity,” about his brief tenure teaching middle school English to Muslim students. Michele Kawahine Danner, an Iñupiaq and Native Hawaiian artist from Utqiaġvik who makes work as Kawahine Creations, will create 100 digitally drawn coloring pages to bring an empowering art resource to Indigenous young people. Steve Durr of Talkeetna will move from a remote, off-grid studio to a new one close to home, making possible larger, more expansive work.
“It’s exciting to see the energy of this year’s Individual Artist Award recipients. Alaska’s artists continue to amaze us with their creativity and dedication. The awardees this year reflect a combination of new, emerging artists in the early stages of their craft as well as midcareer and mature artists who continue to explore and push boundaries. It is always such a delight to see Alaska artists shine,” said Enzina Marrari, the Foundation program officer who oversees the Individual Artist Awards.
In addition to Project Awards and Fellowships, the Individual Artist Award program also recognizes one mature artist with a Distinguished Artist Award. James Barker, 2022 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 Barker on our Distinguished Artist web feature.
Counting this year’s awards, the program now has made a total of 626 grants to individual Alaska artists: 441 Project Awards, 164 Fellowships, 19 Distinguished Artist awards and two President’s Awards, all told nearly $6 million for Alaska artists.
About the Foundation
Rasmuson Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Main funding areas are health care; the arts; organizational and community development; human services; and solutions to homelessness. Affordable, accessible broadband is a new area of interest. The Foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson, a Swedish missionary, to honor her late husband, banker E.A. Rasmuson.