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


USA Fellows in Dance, Music, Theater, Literature, and Visual Arts Join Alaskan Cultural Institutions for One-Month Residencies

LOS ANGELES, CA, January 13, 2010 - The national grant-making and artists' advocacy organization United States Artists (USA) today announced the names of seven artists who will travel to Alaska to participate in USA's Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program. Launched in 2007 by USA and Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska AIR is a unique residency program that partners artists from across the country who have received USA Fellowships with cultural institutions throughout the state. For the third residency season, USA Fellows in dance, music, theater, literature, and visual arts will be hosted by seven Alaskan organizations in 2010.

The Island Institute in Sitka will host fiction writer Susan Power (USA Gund Fellow, Minneapolis, Minnesota), and poet and performance artist lê thi diem thúy (USA Ford Fellow, Northampton, Massachusetts). In Anchorage, Alaska Dance Theatre will host tap dancer Dianne Walker (USA Rose Fellow, Mattapan, Massachusetts); musician and pipa virtuoso Wu Man (USA Broad Fellow, San Diego, California) will be in residence at Koahnic Broadcast Corporation; and the International Gallery of Contemporary Art will host theater artist Karen Kandel (USA Ziporyn Fellow, New York, New York). The Native Arts Center at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks will host visual artist Marcos Ramirez ERRE (USA Gund Fellow, San Ysidro, California) and cartoonist Jim Woodring (USA Rasmuson Fellow, Seattle, Washington) will be in residence at the Bunnell Street Art Center and the Pratt Museum in Homer. Details of this year's partnerships are provided below.

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 where visiting artists will develop new work, offer public performances, and engage with the local community. Projects will begin in January and extend into the spring. The broad range of creative experiences available through these partnerships reflects the breadth of artistic disciplines supported by the USA Fellows program, which annually awards 50 unrestricted grants of $50,000 to artists nationwide. The fourth annual USA Fellowships were awarded on December 14, 2009, bringing USA's total investment in working artists to $10 million since 2006.

"This innovative residency program continues to bring some of America's finest artists to Alaska to experience the state's inspiring natural environment and vibrant cultural life," said Diane Kaplan, president of Rasmuson Foundation and a founding member of the USA Board of Directors. "Alaska AIR reflects Rasmuson's commitment to supporting arts and culture in Alaska, and fosters a dynamic creative exchange between visiting artists, local cultural institutions, and the communities they serve."

"United States Artists was founded to support America's finest creative talent, both through direct funding and programs that catalyze new artistic expression," said USA Executive Director Katharine DeShaw. "With the generous support of Rasmuson Foundation, we are thrilled to enter our third year partnering with Alaska's leading cultural organizations to give USA Fellows opportunities to work in the state and, in turn, contribute creatively to local communities."

The Alaska AIR program advances USA's mission to provide support for artists and illuminate their contributions to society. All USA Fellows are invited to submit project proposals and are paired with the cultural institution best suited to support the scope and needs of each project.

ALASKA AIR 2010: ARTIST PROJECTS

All USA Fellows will present their work at public readings or performances to the local community.

Susan Power at The Island Institute, Sitka

January 1 - January 30, 2010

USA Gund Fellow Susan Power is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux, and her stories are informed by her Native heritage. She received an MFA from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1992. She has published two books, The Grass Dancer, which won PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction, and Roofwalker. A frequent lecturer on multicultural and native issues, Power has served as writer in residence at Princeton University and has received a Radcliffe Bunting Institute Fellowship. While in residence at The Island Institute, she will offer readings locally in addition to a final reading in Juneau with Ernestine Hays at the Alaska State Museum on January 28.

lê thi diem thúy at the Island Institute, Sitka

February 1 - March 1, 2010

USA Ford Fellow lê thi diem thúy is a poet and solo performance artist. She left her native Vietnam by boat in 1978 with her family and settled in Southern California. Lê writes about the experiences of Vietnamese refugees living in the United States, focusing on the experiences of individuals within historic events. Her well-received first novel, The Gangster We Are All Looking For (2001), chronicles the life of a Vietnamese girl growing up in California. She received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2004.

Karen Kandel at the International Gallery for Contemporary Art, Anchorage

January 22 - February 21, 2010

USA Ziporyn Fellow Karen Kandel is an actor with more than thirty years of experience, mostly in nontraditional theater. Currently an artistic associate with the New York avant-garde theater company Mabou Mines, she has worked with leading directors, including Peter Sellars, USA Berresford Fellow Anna Deavere Smith, and USA Ford Fellow Basil Twist. She has won three Obie Awards, among other honors. Kandel also constructs masks that are prominently featured in her multimedia performances; during her residency, she will continue to research mask-making.

Jim Woodring at Pratt Museum and Bunnell Street Arts Center, Homer

March 1 - March 30, 2010

USA Rasmuson Fellow Jim Woodring is a well-known cartoonist. He is the author of Jim-an illustrated "autojournal" that includes drawings, comics, and stories based on his childhood experiences-and is perhaps best known as the creator of Frank, a wordless cartoon series. During his residency, Woodring will inhabit the gallery at Bunnell Street Arts Center in Homer and transform it into an exhibition and working studio of his cartoons.

Dianne Walker at Alaska Dance Theatre, Anchorage

April 15 - May 15, 2010

USA Rose Fellow Dianne Walker is one of the world's greatest living tap dancers, and has been called "the Ella Fitzgerald of tap." She has mentored generations of dancers and is a pioneer in the resurgence of tap. Throughout her thirty-year career, she has appeared on Broadway, television, and film, including an appearance in the film Tap with Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr. Walker was the only woman in the famous "Hoofers Line" in the 1989 Broadway production of Black and Blue. She has received several lifetime achievement awards and was the youngest dancer and first woman to receive the "Living Treasure in American Dance Award" from Oklahoma City University.

Marcos Ramirez ERRE at the Native Arts Center in the Art Department, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

April 15 - May 15,  2010

USA Gund Fellow Marcos Ramirez ERRE moves between Mexico and the United States, creating site-specific work that deals with issues of immigration, nationality, and social justice. An example of this is Toy an Horse (1997), a large-scale wooden horse with two heads that was situated on the Tijuana and San Diego border. Ramirez ERRE's work was also featured in the 2000 Whitney Biennial. In 2003, he opened Estación Tijuana, a social center and venue for exhibitions, lectures, and conferences for artists, architects, and others from Mexico, the United States, and abroad. While at the Native Arts Center in Fairbanks, he will focus on developing his work in relationship to rites and issues dealing with mortality.

Wu Man at Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, Anchorage

June 15 - July 15, 2010

USA Broad Fellow Wu Man is an internationally renowned pipa virtuoso. The pipa is a lute-like Chinese instrument that has a two-thousand-year history. Wu studied a classical style of pipa at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and received the first master's degree in that instrument. She immigrated to the United States in 1990 at the age of twenty-five. Wu performs traditional pipa music and also interprets specially commissioned works by composers such as Terry Riley, Philip Glass, and Tan Dun. She has performed as a soloist with many orchestras and is a principal member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project. Wu was the first Chinese musician to perform at the White House.

About United States Artists
The founding of the Los Angeles-based United States Artists in 2005 was prompted by the Urban Institute's study, Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structures for U.S. Artists, which found that while 96% of Americans appreciate the arts, only 27% believe that artists contribute to the good of society. A recent study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts discovered that American artists were unemployed at twice the rate of all professionals in 2008.

The Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Prudential Foundation, and Rasmuson Foundation contributed a total of $22 million to establish USA as a structure through which private philanthropists, corporate donors, and other foundations can support individual artists. Due to seed funding from its founders, 100% of current donor contributions directly support artists. USA donors include Eli and Edythe Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Ella Fontanals-Cisneros, Shawn M. Donnelley, Agnes Gund, Target, and the Wynn Family Foundation, among others.

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