Rasmuson Distinguished Artist of 2018 draws inspiration from Alaska

Alvin Amason with “Big Sum Bich #2” in his Anchorage studio, 2016. The oil on canvas painting was purchased by the Alutiiq Museum with support from the Rasmuson Art Acquisition Fund. (Photo courtesy the Alutiiq Museum)

The Rasmuson Foundation announced Kodiak born artist and University of Alaska Anchorage professor, Alvin Amason, as its Distinguished Artist of 2018.

Amason’s work is exhibited in a number of collections globally and recognizable for its nature-based subject matter, vivid colors, and movement.

His style at least appears fast and loose.

“I always kind of favored the abstract and real splashy stuff. Where I come from is a splashy island, and it seemed to kinda fit the bill a bit.”

Amason credits his childhood of seal hunting, clam digging, and fishing as inspiration for many of his pieces, which include paintings of bears, eagles, and puffins.

He says as an Alaska Native artist who often teaches other indigenous artists, he finds that many Alaska Natives have a strong sense of place.

That’s something he says is true for him.

“And you know where you kinda were raised and come from and a lot of the information and spirituality and experiences that go with that, and there’s this little butter clam beach on our island that, if I’m standing on it, I feel like I’m in the center of the world. I’m the North Pole and everything else rotates around me, and it’s a real wonderful feeling to experience that.”

The recipients of the Distinguished Artist award are chosen through nomination for a lifetime of participation in the arts. The honor comes with $40,000.

“[I] kind of feel like I got a really good crew share from a real good salmon season.”

Amason says he may put a portion of the money toward a vacation for him and his family.

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