Keren at the Vermont Studio Center (photo by Howard Romero).

As the application period for the 2018 Individual Artist Awards (IAA) nears its March 1 closing date, we caught up with 2016 Fellowship recipient Keren Lowell of Anchorage. 

Name: Keren Lowell
IAA Artistic Discipline: Visual Artist (textiles, installation, sculpture)
Career Stage: Mid-career
Award: 2016 Individual Artist Fellowship

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as an artist?
Set goals. Take really good photographs of your artwork – hire someone if you can’t do it yourself. Keep applying to opportunities. It often takes applying multiple times. Don’t take rejection personally.

Who is your favorite Alaska artist and what do you admire about that person?
The artist I admire the most lately is Enzina Marrari. She is known for her incredible willingness to dive into emotionally-charged terrain. She creates performances, installations on an epic scale, often collaborating with other artists. She also makes intimate, smaller-scale mixed media work that become resonant through her use of unorthodox and humble materials. Not only does she maintain an active studio practice, she works full-time as the Municipality of Anchorage’s Curator of Public Art/Public Works. She also teaches classes in UAA’s fine art department, coordinates the exhibits at Middleway Cafe, and organizes really fun parties of all types (block parties, holiday parties, dance parties – you name it). The three qualities that I see steadfastly in Enzina are her contagious optimism, her ability to bring people together to celebrate the good things in our world, and her deep compassion for all people. She has changed the way I see the world, and it really is a great place to be.

What was the happiest moment of your life as an artist?
I’ve had a few moments: when I received the letter of acceptance into the MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the entire two months I spent at the Skowhegan School of Art in Maine, the moments in the gallery at the Anchorage Museum after successfully installing my solo show Groundwork, and getting the call from the Rasmuson Foundation, letting me know I had received an Individual Artist Fellowship.

What impact did the Individual Artist Award have on your art?
I was able to do things to support and sustain my art practice without financial worry (a first!). I went to three residencies, traveled, bought equipment and supplies, connected and reconnected with artists around the country, went to museums and galleries I’d never been to, and made new work. I was able to rent a car at two of the residencies, and this made it possible to take other artists out for supply runs and visits to see the local environs. I also think receiving the Fellowship has changed how I approach working in the studio and in the art world, and maybe even how others see my work. I am so grateful to the Rasmuson Foundation for their continued and direct support of the creative individuals in this state.

We hope Keren’s experience inspires you to pursue a creative project of your own. Finish your Individual Artist Award application today.