Ricky Tagaban smiles at a Tiny Desk concert at Kindred Post. Tagaban said his work in drag and weaving are both related to gender identity. Photo by Annie Bartholomew.

Ricky Tagaban smiles at a Tiny Desk concert at Kindred Post. Tagaban said his work in drag and weaving are both related to gender identity. Photo by Annie Bartholomew.

Chilkat weaver, drag queen wins award and $7,500 from Rasmuson Foundation

Ricky Tagaban has a garbage bag of mountain goat wool and $7,500 in award money.

Tagaban, a Chilkat weaver and drag queen, of Juneau is a recipient of a Rasmuson Foundation’s 2018 Individual Artist Award.

“It’s a pretty awesome feeling,” Tagaban told the Capital City Weekly Tuesday afternoon.

Tagaban said he will use the grant money to establish a studio outside of his home and weave mountain goat wool he’s been collecting since 2013.

“A lot of it other people have found for me,” Tagaban said. “I’ve had people contact me, people who hadn’t even seen my work. I did receive a hide four years ago, so that’s one bit of it. The other half is all stuff that’s been found. I’ve mostly been stockpiling it because I’m going to send it to a mill, and they process it.”

Locally, Tagaban has work for sale at both the Andrew P. Kashevaroff building at the Alaska State Museum and Kindred Post, a downtown post office, gathering space and gift shop.

Tagaban’s long-term goal is to recreate a blanket from his dad’s clan house that depicts a thunderbird carrying a whale.

“I know the real one is in a museum somewhere,” Tagaban said. “The process of me or my family getting it back would take a long time, so I think a way I can be helpful is to make a new one.”

Recreating the blanket will take a while, too.

Tagaban estimated it would take four months of spinning with cedar bark to come up with the 1,000 yards of warp needed to make the blanket.

Then, it would be another year’s worth of 40-hour work weeks to complete the blanket.

It would likely take longer than a year because of his other work.

“I make a lot of earrings and iPhone bags,” Tagaban said.

^

A winning

combination

Tagaban’s award application also included his work as a drag queen.

The two efforts are closely linked.

“I initially began weaving because of my gender identity,” Tagaban said.

He said it also factored into the late Clarissa Rizal teaching him weaving, and the artform was a balm during a chaotic time in his life.

“Middle school was a hard transition for me and becoming aware of my gender and sexuality,” Tagaban said.

Weaving helped him look inward, and he found the multi-step process force him to slow down and breath.

“Weaving was kind of the perfect thing to come into my life,” Tagaban said.

As is the case with weaving, Tagaban has a long-term effort in mind for his often politically minded drag.

“One of my goals is to indigenize drag,” Tagaban said.

Nearly 400 artists applied for an Individual Artist Award, and Tagaban was among a handful of local artists to be a recipient. Others include Roblin Gray Davis of Juneau, Merry C. Ellefson of Douglas, Alison Marks of Juneau

and Emily Wall of Douglas.

Other examples of Individual Artist Award project’s include a chapbook of persona poems based on Georgia O’Keefe proposed by Wall and a performance piece by Ellefson inspired by a man lost in 1949 for 18 days on an ice floe.

Jeff Baird, program officer for the Rasmuson Foundation,said he wasn’t sure that Tagaban’s application was a wholly unique combination but does not think there have been many other applicants working in wool weaving and drag.

Baird said that Tagaban was selected by a panel of out-of-state practicing artists is a testament to the artist and his work.

“Obviously, it was unique enough that it stood out amongst a really talented field,” Baird said. “It’s an amazing pool of talent applying for the awards.”

Chilkat weaver Ricky Tagaban pull guard hairs from raw mountain goat fur at his apartment in Juneau on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. Tagaban said friends collect the fur in the spring when goats lose their winter coat. Tagaban turns the material into wool warp with a cedar bark core ready for his weaving projects or to sell to other weavers. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Chilkat weaver Ricky Tagaban pull guard hairs from raw mountain goat fur at his apartment in Juneau on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. Tagaban said friends collect the fur in the spring when goats lose their winter coat. Tagaban turns the material into wool warp with a cedar bark core ready for his weaving projects or to sell to other weavers. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

A finished Chilkat weaving and mountain goat wool warp by Juneau weaver Ricky Tagaban on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

A finished Chilkat weaving and mountain goat wool warp by Juneau weaver Ricky Tagaban on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

A blanket made by Ricky Tagaban depicting a wolf crest used by his niece was among the works included in his application for an artist award from the Rasmuson Foundation. Tagaban, a weaver and drag queen, was one of 2018’s Individual Artist Award Recipients. Photo by Will Peterson.

A blanket made by Ricky Tagaban depicting a wolf crest used by his niece was among the works included in his application for an artist award from the Rasmuson Foundation. Tagaban, a weaver and drag queen, was one of 2018’s Individual Artist Award Recipients. Photo by Will Peterson.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 22

Library Director Dave Berry and Advisory Board Chair Kate Finn participate in Library Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday Jan. 17, 2023, at Homer City Hall, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Emilie Springer/Homer News)
Homer Library Advisory Board upholds decision to retain LGBTQ+ books

A citizen’s group last year submitted a petition asking that the books be removed from the children’s section

Courtesy Photo / Juneau Police Department 
This photo shows Woodrow Farrell Eagleman who police say after going missing on Jan. 11 was seen leaving town on Jan. 12 via airport surveillance.
Police: Man reported missing took plane out of town

A Juneau man recently reported as missing was found leaving town on… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Jan. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Juneau-based actor Xáalnook Erin Tripp was recently named one of the 2023 Artists in Business Leadership Fellows for First Peoples Fund program. Tripp said she intends to use to program’s grant funding to set up a professional recording studio in Juneau for her voice acting career and to share with other artists in the community. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
First Peoples Fund to help Juneau actor create recording studio for voice acting

Xáalnook Erin Tripp among artists with Southeast ties to earn the award.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Katie Botz, a Juneau school bus driver honored by Gov. Mike Dunelavy for her advocacy on behalf of abuse victims, stands to applause during his recognition of her during the State of the State speech Monday night at the Alaska State Capitol.
‘A victory for all of us’: Juneau woman recognized among Resilient Alaskans for her advocacy

Katie Botz’s presence — and brief absence — as a victims advocate led to a big win and governor’s honor.

Arnold Vosloo as Colonel Bach addresses US soldiers in latest film, “Condor’s Nest” in theaters and digital release on Friday. (Courtesy Photo / PMKBNC)
‘Popcorn thriller’ set in South America features actor from Alaska

“Condor’s Nest” will be available on demand Friday.

Jim Cockrell, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, speaks in Wasilla at a May 3, 2022, news conference. Cockrell has ordered an investigation after troopers mistakenly took a school principal into custody for a mental health exam. (Photo by Yereth Rosen / Alaska Beacon)
Troopers, misled by false court order, detained principal for mental health check

State troopers mistakenly took Alaska’s 2022 Principal of the Year into custody…

The Juneau School District’s recently announced the new principals for Juneau Community Charter School and Mendenhall River Community School who are set to start in their positions this fall. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
District selects new principals for Juneau Community Charter and Mendenhall River Community School

The new school heads will join the district in the coming academic year in the fall

Most Read