Wayne Price is the Rasmuson Foundation’s 2020 Distinguished Artist. The annual award goes to one Alaskan artist and recognizes a lifetime of creative excellence. (Courtesy Photo | Rasmuson Foundation)

Wayne Price is the Rasmuson Foundation’s 2020 Distinguished Artist. The annual award goes to one Alaskan artist and recognizes a lifetime of creative excellence. (Courtesy Photo | Rasmuson Foundation)

Southeast artist wins major award

He’s a Tlingit master carver, UAS instructor and his work can be seen around Juneau.

Fifty years of artistic endeavor are being recognized with a prestigious award and sizable monetary prize.

Tlingit master carver Wayne Price, who is an associate professor of Northwest Coast arts for University of Alaska Southeast, is this year’s winner of the Rasmuson Foundation’s Distinguished Artist Award. The annual award recognizes lifetime achievement in the arts and comes with $40,000.

“I’m very honored to have received such a prestigious award and to be recognized as an artist for the work that I do and the art that I do,” Price said in a phone interview. “What a great honor. It’s a good testament to the art that has never let my people down.”

Price said the honor came as a total surprise.

“It came with a phone call, and it knocked me off the chair,” Price said. “I had no idea, actually, and a wonderful surprise it was. I’ve heard of other people receiving it, but I had no idea I was a candidate.”

He thanked his wife, Cherri, for her support and the Rasmuson Foundation for the recognition and financial support.

Price, 62, said he began carving when he was 12 years old. In the past he has been open about the healing role art has played in his life and how it helped him in his recovery journey and to maintain sobriety.

He has spread that healing message over the years with multiple healing totem poles and dugout canoes that have addressed topics including boarding school atrocities committed against Alaska Natives, misuse of alcohol and drugs and gender-based violence.

[Tlingit master carver makes healing totem for AWARE]

“It’s been there through all the hard times,” Price said of art. “And we’re going to get through this hard time as well.”

Some of his most visible works include totem poles at Thunder Mountain High School and Tlingit & Haida Vocational Technical School, house posts for the U.S. Forest Service building in Auke Bay, items in the collections of the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage and Denali National Park Visitor Center, etched formline glass panels in downtown Juneau and traditional texture adzing on clan house walls at the Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Walter Soboleff building.

This paddle is one of Wayne Price’s ongoing projects. Price, an award-winning artist and associate professor for University of Alaska Southeast, said he’s looking forward to spending some time paddling on the water once the ongoing pandemic calms down. (Courtesy Photo | Wayne Price)

This paddle is one of Wayne Price’s ongoing projects. Price, an award-winning artist and associate professor for University of Alaska Southeast, said he’s looking forward to spending some time paddling on the water once the ongoing pandemic calms down. (Courtesy Photo | Wayne Price)

“Wayne Price represents the best of Alaska art and artist,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO in a release. “He’s preserved and replicated traditional Tlingit art with remarkable attention to detail. He creates his own designs in mediums from cedar to silver. And he is a mentor to the young, teaching ways to sobriety and good health. Build a canoe with Wayne and you’ll not only learn to carve, your life will be forever changed. We are so proud to honor Wayne.”

Price, who is currently in Haines where he grew up, said he continues to work as both an artist and academic instructor despite being stuck in one place as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

[Going home in a 40-foot spruce canoe]

“I have some paddles I’m working on,” Price said. “I’m also in pics and texts with all my students of this past semester. I may be here, but I’m still very involved with everybody’s projects.”

Price said he intends to continue teaching and working.

“Oh yes,” he said. “It’s the artwork that got me here. It’s the artwork that I love. I’m going to continue doing it, and I’m going to continue to teach.”

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Sept. 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

In this May 24, 2019, photo, teachers and students from Northwest Montessori School in Seattle examine the carcass of a gray whale after it washed up on the coast of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, just north of Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park. U.S. researchers say the number of gray whales off western North America has continued to fall over the last two years, a decline that resembles previous population swings over the past several decades. According to an assessment by NOAA Fisheries released Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, the most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales — down 38% from its peak in 2015-16. (AP Photo / Gene Johnson)
Gray whale population off western U.S. continues to decline

The most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales — down 38% from its peak in 2015-16.

Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire
Two cones and concrete barriers sit near the fallen trees and debris left over after a landslide occurred early last week. Officials determined in the aftermath of the event that the landslide occurred predominantly due to a large tree that fell and in the process pulled down mud and other debris with it as it slid down the hillside.
City’s portion of landslide cleanup finished

Remaining debris is in the hands of property owners, according to city officials.

Artist Rick Kauzlarich, created portraits of each Juneau Artists Gallery member to commemorate our yearly Juneau Appreciation Event Sale. (Courtesy Photo / Rick Kauzlarich)
Here’s what’s happening for First Friday

A world premiere, closing exhibitions and so much more.

Most Read