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Renowned Alaska artist Fran Reed dies

Well-known Alaska artist and teacher Fran Reed died early this morning in Anchorage after a long bout with cancer. She was 65.

Reed was known for a unique style of fine art basketry that used dried fish skins and other natural materials. Her work attracted national attention and was shown widely in Alaska and the Lower 48. Over her career, she received fellowships from the Western States Arts Federation and the Rasmuson Foundation. In 1996 she was elected for the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Artists at Giverny fellowship in France, which allowed her to spend three months at the home and gardens of impressionist master Claude Monet. The following year she was commissioned to create the prizes given to recipients of the Alaska Governor's Arts Awards. Earlier this year, she received the Anchorage Mayor's Award for Outstanding Individual Artist.

She was born in La Jolla, Calif, on June 12, 1943, and moved to Fairbanks in 1969, There she worked with qiviut - musk ox wool - and taught weaving at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She also spent 15 years as a lecturer on Alaska Native arts for Alaska Pacific University and the Alaska Marine Highway Elderhostel program.

In the course of her artwork, she became an expert on fish skins and their traditional uses. Despite her illness, she spent four days this year at the Smithsonian Institute helping staff identify, understand and restore Native Alaska skin garments in its collection.

Reed is survived by her husband, Dick, whom she met in 1961 when they were students at the University of Oregon in Eugene; son, Collin; and daughter, Jocelyn Davis.

A story detailing her art, friends and final days is scheduled to run in the Anchorage Daily News Life & Arts section Sunday.

Memorial plans will be announced at a later date.


Anchorage Daily News