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United States Artists to Send Artists to Alaska for Second Annual Artist-in-Residence Program

LOS ANGELES, CA.- The national grant-making and artists’ advocacy organization United States Artists (USA) today announced the names of six artists who will travel to Alaska to participate in the second season of its Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program. Launched in 2007 by USA and the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska AIR is an unprecedented statewide residency program that gives new opportunities to artists from across the country who have received USA Fellowships for artistic excellence. Building on the success of Alaska AIR’s inaugural season, USA has partnered with six cultural institutions to host USA Fellows in dance, theater, crafts and visual arts throughout 2009. This year’s resident artists will develop programming, workshops, and performances at The Island Institute in Sitka, The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, The International Gallery and The Alaska Dance Theatre in Anchorage, The Native Arts Center at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and the Pratt Museum in Homer.

The first group of USA Fellows participating in the 2009 Alaska AIR program are: playwright and director Anthony Garcia (USA Rockefeller Fellow, Denver, CO), photographer Zoe Strauss (USA Gund Fellow, Philadelphia, PA), dance duo Eiko & Koma (USA Prudential Fellows, New York, NY), and textile artist Gwendolyn Magee (USA Ford Fellow, Jackson, MS). Projects will begin in January and extend into the spring. A second group of USA Fellows will participate in Alaska AIR over the summer. Visual artist Alan Sekula (USA Broad Fellow, Los Angeles, CA) will begin his residency at the Pratt Museum in June, and a seventh residency is currently in development.

Made possible by a grant from the Anchorage-based Rasmuson Foundation—one of USA’s founding supporters—Alaska AIR provides opportunities for short- and long-term residencies at each of the host organizations. The broad range of creative experiences available through these partnerships reflects the breadth of artistic disciplines represented by the USA Fellows program, which provides direct support for artists by annually awarding 50 unrestricted grants of $50,000. The third annual USA Fellowships were awarded in November 2008, bringing the total monies awarded to artists nationwide to $7.5 million.

“We are so pleased to see this ambitious, innovative program take root in the state of Alaska,” said Diane Kaplan, president of the Rasmuson Foundation and a founding member of the USA Board of Directors. “Alaska AIR continues Rasmuson’s commitment to supporting arts and culture in Alaska, and at the same time, brings great artists from around the country to our state to enrich our institutions and communities.”

“United States Artists is committed to providing new opportunities for America’s finest creative talent, both through financial support and programs that catalyze new artistic expression,” said USA Executive Director Katharine DeShaw. “With the generous support of the Rasmuson Foundation, we have forged exciting partnerships with local organizations that will give USA Fellows exposure to native cultures, unique arts communities, and dramatic landscapes unlike any in the continental U.S.

The inaugural season of Alaska AIR resulted in pioneering artistic work and we know the program will continue to enrich the state’s cultural organizations and the communities they serve in the year ahead.‖

The Alaska AIR program is open to all current and past USA Fellows, who are invited to apply for opportunities to develop work at one of the host organizations. Artists are then paired with the cultural institution best suited to support the scope and needs of each project. Details of this year’s four partnerships and each artist’s project are provided below.

―The Alaska AIR program offers an incredible opportunity for me to develop my work within an extraordinary environment,‖ said photographer Zoe Strauss. ―I’m looking forward to engaging with new audiences in an entirely different context and exploring the ways in which the Alaskan landscape can inform my work.‖

The Alaska AIR program continues USA’s mission to provide support for artists and illuminate their contributions to society. USA Fellows who participated in the inaugural Alaska AIR program in 2007-2008 included: designer Tanya Aguiñiga (USA Target Fellow, California), visual artist Michael Joo (USA Nimoy Fellow, New York), photographer Catherine Opie (USA Broad Fellow, California), radio artist Dmae Roberts (USA Rockefeller Fellow, Oregon), and dancers Eiko & Koma, who will return to The Alaska Dance Theatre in March.

Anthony Garcia at The Island Institute, Sitka
January 5 – February 1, 2009
A 2006 USA Rockefeller Fellow, Anthony Garcia is a playwright and director who founded El Centro Su Teatro in Denver, Colorado. Born out of the Chicano movement, Garcia’s work blends music, humor, and storytelling to provide a deeper understanding of the human condition as it is affected by social and political realities. Garcia will work at The Island Institute, a writer’s residency, to develop new work and share it with the local community through readings and workshops. Garcia will also travel to Ketchikan, Alaska, to conduct a reading of his plays for local artists.

Zoe Strauss at The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and The International Gallery
January 12 – February 10, 2009
A 2007 USA Gund Fellow, Zoe Strauss is a Philadelphia-based photographer whose work reflects the beauty and struggle of everyday life. Dedicated to documenting her local community, Strauss has produced an ongoing annual exhibition, Under I-95, which she installs in highway underpasses. Co-hosted by The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center and The International Gallery, Strauss will jury the Museum’s Second Juried Art exhibition, Draw the Line. Over the course of her residency, Strauss will work with local high school students, present a lecture on her work, and travel to Fairbanks and the Eklutna Native Village.

Eiko & Koma at Alaska Dance Theatre
March 2009
USA Prudential Fellows for 2006, Eiko & Koma use mesmerizingly slow movement to investigate the cycles of life and nature. The dance duo worked with the Alaska Dance Theatre (ADT) as part of the Alaska AIR program in 2007, and they will return to the ADT this spring to conduct workshops with the dance company and students. They will once again conduct their popular Delicious Movement workshop, and will travel to Bethel, Alaska, to observe dance traditions and forms at a gathering of Native Alaskan dancers.

Gwendolyn Magee at The Native Arts Center at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks
March/April 2009
A 2007 USA Ford Fellow, textile artist Gwendolyn Magee makes powerful images in cloth about African American history, oppression, and hope. She will travel from her home in Jackson, Mississippi, to Fairbanks, Alaska, to work at the Native Arts Center. In the course of her residency, Magee will investigate native materials and their uses in her work, and will also present a lecture on her work and practice.

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