2011 Distinguished Artist Award
Ray Troll loves both art and science and works to blend the two in his lively illustrations. A lifelong fan of fish and fossils, Troll is especially known for his portrayals of ocean creatures, from ancient sharks and ammonites to lingcod and the Pacific salmon. Born in Painted Post, New York, in 1954, Troll grew up in a large, mobile military family. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Bethany College in Kansas and a Master of Fine Arts in studio art from Washington State University. In 1983 he moved to Alaska to work at his sister’s fish store. In addition to fish mongering, he taught art at Ketchikan Community College until he was able to make a living as a full-time artist. Today, Troll and his wife, Michelle, own the Soho Coho gallery in Ketchikan. Troll is well-known for his collaborations with scientists. He and paleontologist Kirk Johnson earned a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2011, to develop a popular book on the geological and biological history of the American West Coast.
Rasmuson Foundation also honored Troll in 2011, naming him a Distinguished Artist. The two simultaneous awards provided the rare opportunity for Troll to focus solely on his artistic life. He prepared works for exhibit, renovated his studio, upgraded computer equipment, purchased a projector and a quality digital camera, restocked art supplies, and drew. To the Foundation he wrote, “The award really helped to free me up at a critical point in my career by allowing me time to pursue some ‘riskier’ and ultimately more rewarding time in the studio. That free time in the studio was the most precious gift to me of all … so it’s hard to quantify just how much it was worth.”