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New Art Show

Award-Winning Playwright Opens Conversation about Suicide in Rural Alaska

By Lillian Maassen 

New Art Show

Award-Winning Alaskan Artists Create Dialogue between Painting and Poetry

A Conversation with Peggy Shumaker and Kesler Woodward

By Lillian Maassen

Poet Peggy Shumaker and painter Kesler Woodward met as colleagues at UAF, where they worked for years in the English and Art departments respectively. In 2003, both retired and began the artistic collaborations that would cement their friendship over the next decade. Their most recent project, Sparks: A Conversation in Poems and Pictures, explores a wide range of thoughts and emotions communicated between Kes’ paintings and Peggy’s poems. The exhibit will be proudly featured at the next Alaska Humanities Forum Second Friday event, September 11 at 5:30 pm. Last week, both artists spoke with the Alaska Humanities Forum about the project, the process, and the unexpected journey of self-discovery.

How did the idea for Sparks come about?

Alaska Humanities Forum Joins Statewide Efforts to Revitalize Alaska Native Languages

By Lillian Maassen

Alaska Native Languages MapAfter nearly two centuries of cultural suppression, almost all of Alaska’s 20 indigenous languages today are either endangered or extinct; many have just a handful of fluent speakers remaining. Alaska’s first languages were pushed to the brink of extinction by rigid English-only school policies and government mandates that actively worked to suppress Native culture. Tragically, the damage was done much more quickly and effectively than it can be undone, but there are those who are still hopeful that steps can be taken to restore Alaska’s many voices.

A Week of The Winter Bear in Anchorage: September 14 - September 19

The Winter Bear ProjectThe Winter Bear is a play that tells the story of an Alaska Native teenager who rises above the traumas of his past to become a leader with the help of a mentor, the Koyukon Athabascan elder, Sidney Huntington. More than just a play, the Winter Bear Project combines community discussion, workshops, and potlucks with the theater production to "change the climate of fear and hopelessness that breeds suicide by broadening awareness, stimulating dialogue, and promoting healing through the performing arts."

In mid-september, the Winter Bear Project will come to Anchorage for a week of project-related events sponsored by the Southcentral Foundation, Alaska Pacific University, the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the Alaska Humanities Forum. 


Monday | 9/14/2015 
The Winter Bear, a Discussion with playwright Anne Hanley and Poet Stephen Bolen
7:30pm-9:00pm | UAA/APU Consortium Library, room 307
3211 Providence Drive Anchorage, Alaska

Wednesday | 9/16/2015  
The Winter Bear Project Documentary Screening and Reception
5:30pm-7:30pm | Alaska Native Heritage Center Gathering Room & Theater
8800 Heritage Center Drive Anchorage, Alaska

Friday | 9/18/2015
The Winter Bear: a play by Anne Hanley
7:30pm | Alaska Pacific University Grant Hall Theater
4101 University Driver Anchorage, Alaska

Saturday | 9/19/2015
The Winter Bear: a play by Anne Hanley
7:30pm | Alaska Pacific University Grant Hall Theater
4101 University Driver Anchorage, Alaska

For more information about The Winter bear Project, visit the website at or follow the project on Facebook at The Winter Bear Project.

Leadership Anchorage Forms First Official Alumni Council

By Lillian Maassen

Leadership Anchorage is a seven-month program for established and emerging leaders of all ages, experiences and backgrounds. Selected participants engage in group seminars, community projects, mentorships, readings and personal reflection with the goal of fostering leadership skills in themselves and in one another. After 18 consecutive years of producing graduates inspired with confidence, purpose, and deeper commitment to making an impact in their communities, Leadership Anchorage has recently formed its first official Alumni Council.

“People always ask me, ‘Do you ever actually use what you learned in Leadership Anchorage?’” muses Chellie Skoog, who recently stepped up as Alumni Council Chair. “I tell them, ‘I use it every day. You come out of the program a different person than you were when you went in.’”

Sister School Exchange Program Creates New Student-Driven Curriculum

A conversation with Deb Abshier

The Sister School Exchange program has spent 15 years bringing together young urban and rural Alaskans and fostering cross-cultural communication. During the program, a teacher and five students from a rural community are matched with a teacher and five students from urban Alaska to work through a 6-8 week curriculum on cross-cultural understanding, culminating in a two-way exchange during which each group spends a week living in the other’s community. In an effort to meet the needs of the participating teachers and students, a team composed of teachers and Alaska Humanities Forum staff is currently working to create a new program curriculum, set for release in October. One team member, Ms. Deb Abshier, has been teaching Spanish at Begich Middle School for eight years and participated in six SSE exchanges, and believes that it is the most impactful program she has ever done with her students. Last week, Ms. Abshier agreed to speak with Alaska Humanities Forum intern Lillian Maassen about the program, the new curriculum, and the innovation behind it all.

Sister School Ambassador Max Romey movie premiere!

New Art Show


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