Artist Ray Troll of Ketchikan received the 2011 Rasmuson Distinguished Artist Award at ceremonies held at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday. The award includes a grant for $25,000.
Troll is widely known for his quirky, colorful, pun-laden T-shirt and poster designs, often involving fish. "Spawn til you die" and "The Da Vinci Cod" are among the most popular. But he is also involved with scientific illustrations, particularly biology and paleontology. He has worked with several major museums, lectured at Harvard, Cornell and Yale Universities, been honored by the Academy of natural Sciences and, with a collaborator, paleontologist Kirk Johnson, recently received a $50,000 Guggenheim fellowship.
It is the eighth year that the Rasmuson Foundation has presented awards to Alaska artists. Over that time, a total of $1.7 million has been given in the form of 230 individual grants.
Other recipients of awards, many of whom were present on Wednesday, were also named. They represent disciplines ranging from filmmaking and visual arts to writing, music and traditional arts. Most had firm plans about how they intend to spend the money.
Carver Earl Atchak of Chevak said he would be researching and creating a traditional shaman mask, a style notably different in appearance and purpose from the familiar reproductions of dance masks made for the tourist market.
"These kinds of masks were the most powerful masks in the community," he said. "A shaman would either get the design from his dreams or his visions. Since they were big, and since I'm trying to do it the way my ancestors did it, I'm searching for the right kind of driftwood, the root of a tree."
Atchak said he hoped to finish the piece by the end of this year.
The deadline for 2012 grants will be March 1. More information and a virtual gallery of work by previous and current recipients called "Second Life" can be found at rasmuson.org.
Here is the full list of 2011 Rasmuson art award winners:
Distinguished Artist Award ($25,000)
Ray Troll, visual arts, Ketchikan
Kate Boylan, bead artist, Homer
Steven Godfrey, ceramics, Anchorage
Deborah Head, basket weaver, Craig
Allie High, traditional artist, Wrangell
Bobby Itta, traditional artist, Barrow
Rosemary McGuire, writer, Cordova
Mavis Muller, impermanent basket maker, Homer
Jeff Silverman, filmmaker, Anchorage
Project Awards ($5,000)
Earl Atchak, carver, Chevak
Megan Behnke, actor, Juneau
Ruth Biden, visual arts, Fairbanks
Caressa Bohrer, composer, Homer
James Brashear, ceramics, Fairbanks
Sarah Cohen, visual arts, Homer
Ryan Corarro, puppeteer, Juneau
Jill Flanders Crosby, dance, Eagle River
Brandon Demery, actor, Juneau
Nicholas Galanin, visual arts, Sitka
Andrew Heist, ceramics, Juneau
Eowyn Ivey, writer, Palmer
Alexander Lewandowski, jewelry, Ester
Erica Lord, performance and visual arts, Fairbanks
Elena Lukina-Shelt, composer, Anchorage
Kylie Manning, visual arts, Juneau
Michael McIntyre, composer, Bethel
Melissa Mitchell, composer, Anchorage
Kay Parker, traditional arts, Juneau
Patrick Race, media arts, Juneau
Mollie Ramos, writer, Valdez
Lacie Stiewing, visual arts, Fairbanks
In addition, the foundation presented its first-ever President's Award for $5,000 to Anchorage writer and arts advocate Bruce Farnsworth.
Reach Mike Dunham at email@example.com or 257-4332.