Ernestine Hayes

Ernestine Hayes

Hayes picked to deliver keynote speech for state arts conference

The Alaska celebration of artists and art is in Fairbanks for the first time, but it will have a big Juneau connection.

Ernestine Hayes, Alaska State Writer Laureate and professor for University of Alaska Southeast, of Juneau will be the keynote speaker at INTER:CONNECT 2018.

“It’s a very special honor,” Hayes said. “I was particularly pleased they chose me. I was thrilled, and to tell the truth, I was a bit surprised because it’s such an honor. I’m just very, very happy that they chose me.”

Andrea Noble-Pelant, executive director for the Alaska State Council on the Arts, said Hayes is a great fit for the biennial arts convergence.

“She is a highly distinguished artist both in the state and nationally,” Noble-Pelant said. “Her words are so uplifting. Knowing that she can transcend barriers and provide uplifting messages in trying times is why she was selected. We are so honored she said, ‘Yes.’”

INTER:CONNECT 2018 is Sept. 6-8 at the Fairbanks Westmark and is open to all artists, arts organizations, educators, individuals, businesses and those focused on contributing to Alaska’s creative industries through the arts.

This year’s event explores the connection among arts, culture and creativity and innovation and inspiration, according to a release from the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA).

Hayes said her speech, which is set to be delivered 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, will explore the connection art shares with everything.

“There are some phrases and concepts that I do usually include in all of my addresses, and of course, I’m definitely going to speak to those, however, for this particular convening, I’m looking forward to talking about their theme and how art is important in everyone’s lives and especially in Alaska.

“I’m hoping to give some examples from Tlingit culture about how art permeates all of life. It’s a really good opportunity to show art is part of everything we do.”

Hayes will also be leading a “Raising Our Voice, Telling Our Stories” session scheduled for Friday, Sept. 7, which she said she’s eager to do.

“That’s always a favorite activity for me because we all have our unique stories and listening to the stories other people share and finding ways to help them share and communicate their stories and write their stories is always a joy for me,” Hayes said. “It’s always a surprise to learn how many wonderful writers there are in Alaska. It’s a rich literary community.”

Hayes is only one of the artists expected to speak.

The presenters’ roster includes: Kelly Barsdate, Chief Program and Planning Officer at the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies ; Susan Gillespie, CVSuite /Western States Arts Foundation (WESTAF); Jeff Poulin, Arts Education Program Manager, Americans for the Arts (AFTA); Susan Anderson, CEO, The CIRI Foundation; and Laura Norton-Cruz, Alaska Children’s Trust among others.

Closing the conference is artist Da-ka-xeen Mehner from Fairbanks.

Conference sessions include: How Are You Creative? A network for teaching and learning in and through arts and cultures in Alaska; How to Build A Website: Starting from Scratch; Toolkits for Artists; Advocacy for Arts Education: A place at the table; Toward the Future of Alaska Music; Getting Beyond Political Acrimony: Civil Dialogue About the Arts; Art Shops: Alaska Native Leaders’ Indigenous Experiment with Radical Intent; Racial Equity in the Arts and Current Conversation; Creating and Nourishing Artists and Communities; History and Hope: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Resilience, and Trauma-Informed Approaches; and Teaching Artist Practice in the Classroom.

“I do plan to attend some of the sessions for sure,” Hayes said. “I have them picked out, of course, they all look really fascinating, but I settled on some for both days, and I’m really looking forward to joining the group of attendees who will go Fairbanks for this.”

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