A Thank You Note

A river awakes
Last week the Rasmuson Foundation flew me from Barrow to Anchorage, put me up in the swankiest hotel in the state, and paid for my meals all so I could attend an awards ceremony: the 2014 Individual Artist Awards. I received a project award of $7,500 to upgrade my equipment and advance my career as an art photographer. So while I was waking up in my super amazing hotel room bed and ordering room service (something I’d normally never dream of doing), I felt a number of things. The first was physical. I hadn’t woken up without my back hurting in many a moon. It might be worth any amount of money to find out what mattresses the Hotel Captain Cook buys and have one shipped up to Barrow. The other was emotional. Gratitude. My husband rearranged his inflexible schedule and stayed home with our son so that I could enjoy my 24 hours of validation. Without his hard work and support, I wouldn’t have gotten nearly this far. Creating art takes time and focus. I might complain about the hours he works, but he gives me the time, space, and understanding I need to create. All while keeping the citizens of Barrow a little safer. My husband is pretty awesome.

Hal Gage is my enormously talented mentor who has the patience of Job, at least when it comes to my particular brand of crazy. Aside from the years of guidance and friendship for which I have already thanked him many times, he deserves my undying gratitude for seeing me through this year’s artist award submission process. He is a two time winner of the Rasmuson fellowship award. Without his expertise, selfless gift of time, and patient prodding for me to do better, I would not have this award. His work has been my inspiration since I attended the first of many of his workshops six years ago. He’s an incomparable teacher, the most loyal of friends, and there are really no words that could express what I feel about his art. I just know that when I look at one of his images, I see the best of him.

And to everyone else who has given words of encouragement through the years and to those awesome people who showed up to be part of my cheering section at the ceremony despite having not seen me in forever… THANK YOU!

On flight 51 toward home, I wasn’t as homesick as I often feel leaving Anchorage. Being awarded a Rasmuson wasn’t just validating but empowering as well. Barrow might be a hard home to return to at times, but it is also where I found and refined my voice. As I watched the snowy tundra of the north slope pass slowly below me, I was fascinated with the beauty of the weaving river bodies slowly waking from their winter hibernation. I haven’t finished saying all I have to say about this place. So I have plans to make, new ideas to test, and new equipment with which to test them… and the jellyfish will be here again before I know it.