Karl Becker honored by Rasmuson Foundation

Cordova artist Karl Becker at Eyak Lake.

Cordova artist Karl Becker has received a $7,500 project award for his plan to sketch, paint and photograph the landscape in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and historic buildings at the old Kennecott copper mine.

A painting of the mill at the old Kennecott mine was among the work samples submitted by artist Karl Becker along with Rasmuson Foundation application for a project grant.
Photo courtesy of Karl Becker

The award, announced on May 17, will allow Becker to produce paintings for an exhibit highlighting the area’s significance and its connections to Cordova, the railroad and shipping.

“Alaska’s landscapes, birds and the built environment are my muses,” Becker said. “I try to capture the spirits of these subjects in watercolors, my passion.”

Becker is one of 36 artists in 18 Alaska communities to be recognized by the Rasmuson Foundation with Individual Artist Awards in 2019. The project awards specifically are available to emerging, mid-career and mature artists for specific, short-term projects. Ten other artists are receiving $18,000 fellowships aimed to help mid-career and mature artists focus energy and attention for one year on developing their creative work.

A work sample – Beyond Bonanza – submitted by artist Karl Becker to the Rasmuson Foundation with his application for a project grant.
Photo courtesy of Karl Becker

The Rasmuson Foundation also recognized Richard Nelson, of Sitka, as its 2019 distinguished artist, for a lifetime of creative excellence and outstanding contribution to the state’s arts and culture, to receive a $40,000 award.

Nelson came to Alaska in 1964 on a grant from the U.S. Air Force to learn Inupiat surfival strategies practiced in the Arctic. He spent years living with and apprenticing himself to Inupiat, Gwich’in and Koyukon Athabascan people and published a series of ethnographic works about these communities. He also published a series of ethnographic works about these communities. “Make Prayers to the Raven,” his book about Koyukon lifeways, was adapted for a five-part television series. His best-known work, “The Island Within,” won the John Burroughs Medal for outstanding writing about natural history.


In recent years, Nelson wrote and narrated “Encounters: Experiences in the North,” a public radio program recorded in the wild. For some of Alaska’s national parks, he creates soundscapes. He currently collaborates on short films about Alaska and the natural world.