For immediate release

May 11, 2018
Contact: Lisa Demer, communications manager

Anchorage, AK – Rasmuson Foundation has named 35 artists in 12 Alaska communities as Individual Artist Award recipients for 2018. This is Rasmuson Foundation’s 15th year of supporting working artists with direct grants.

Ten individuals will receive $18,000 Fellowships and 25 artists will receive Project Awards of $7,500. Recipients were selected from a pool of almost 400 applicants. The artists represent all career stages. Their work spans cultures and disciplines, sustaining and expanding on traditional art forms and employing new technology and media to make art on the creative frontier.

Master weaver Delores Churchill of Ketchikan used her 2006 Distinguished Artist award to conduct research for a book about traditional baskets. The book is ready for publication, but the intricate process of finishing the rims of baskets is hard to describe on the printed page. With a 2018 Project Award, she will hire a videographer to film her demonstrating these techniques. Churchill explains, “I am the only one that knows these endings, so I feel it is important to share my knowledge with the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people.”

Fiber artist Abigail Kokai of Homer was born decades after Churchill, but she is just as passionate about making art. The first-time Foundation awardee plans to document the unique instant community of travelers on the Alaska Marine Highway System through narrative quilts about individual experiences. She hopes to use photographs of finished quilts to create something new, perhaps a deck of cards or other element of popular culture that reflects current trends of how passengers spend their time. “I will be a participant/observer, sketching and embroidering in shared public spaces,” she says.

Many of the 2018 award recipients interpret Alaska for Alaskans and outsiders. Fellow Rick Zelinsky of Anchorage will record Alaska nature sounds for use in his original jazz compositions. Allison Akootchook Warden of Anchorage, who also received awards in 2012 and 2015, will use her Fellowship to conduct research for a collaborative multimedia exhibit to explore cultural connections between Alaska Iñupiat and people from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The awards also provide artists with resources to pursue career development opportunities that simply are not available in Alaska. Vocalist Sydnee Waggoner will study and perform opera in Europe. Lucy Peckham will attend professional conferences in the Lower 48 to learn state-of-art sound design systems. These project awards ultimately will enrich artistic performances in Alaska.

“Occasionally someone asks me whether I have a favorite grant program,” says Rasmuson Foundation President & CEO Diane Kaplan. “That’s a little like asking a mother whether she has a favorite child, and my response is the same: I love all of our grant programs. But I can say that there is nothing we do that is more exciting than seeing the creative ideas and original artistic work produced by our Individual Artist Award recipients. The individual and collective imaginative energy of Alaskans just amazes me, year after year.”

The Foundation also offers a single Distinguished Artist award each year in recognition of a lifetime of creative excellence. On Thursday, Alvin Amason of Anchorage and Kodiak Island was announced as the Foundation’s 2018 Distinguished Artist. The singular honor includes a $40,000 grant. A six-member panel of Alaska artists and art professionals recommended Amason for the award.

A short summary of all the artist projects is attached. Artist project profiles also are available on the Foundation’s 2018 IAA webpage and Distinguished Artist webpage, two new features launched this week. Photos and videos of the artists and their work are available by request and can be downloaded from Rasmuson Foundation’s IAA Google Photo album.

About the Individual Artist Awards

Fellowships are awarded to mid-career or mature artists ready for an intensive, yearlong project. Project Awards are an opportunity for artists at any career stage of their careers to pursue specific, short-term works. A panel of 13 artists, scholars and art community leaders from the Lower 48 reviewed artist applications and met for three days in Anchorage to select the 2018 awardees.

Beyond financial support, the Foundation is expanding its promotion of artists through social media, stories, films and its website. It also is sponsoring intensive workshops to help artists build their business skills.

Since 2004, the Foundation has made a total of 480 awards to individual artists: 341 Project Awards, 124 Fellowships, and 15 Distinguished Artist awards totaling $4.35 million.

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 aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans.

Click below for quick capsules of all the artists:

2018 Individual Artist Award Recipients List FINAL.updated

ADN ad 2018 IAA