Sitka Women Get Grants for Artistry

Category: Local News
Created on Monday, 13 July 2020 16:02

Sentinel Staff Writer

Two Sitkans have received 2020 Individual Artist Awards from the Rasmuson Foundation,

Jennifer Younger received a fellowship award of $18,000. Sarah Campen, who was raised in Sitka and who now lives in Taas Daa (Lemesurier Island), received a project award of $7,500.

Both Campen and Younger have websites that feature their work. Campen’s is and Younger’s is

Younger began making jewelry after a 2012 apprenticeship with Dave Galanin and his son, Nick Galanin. She now works fulltime crafting jewelry. 

She applied for the grant so that she could invest more time in learning about the art she has been creating.

“It will be nice to have some dedicated time,” she said. “Right now I’ll get ideas and questions and I feel like I never have time (to investigate them).”

Jennifer Younger. (Photo provided)

She said this learning will allow her to dive deeper into a heritage that was upended by Native boarding schools. 

“(My grandmother) was removed from her Tlingit culture and put in an institute and wasn’t really allowed to practice her culture,” Younger said. “I feel like growing up around the Tlingit culture, I know a lot but there’s still a lot that wasn’t passed down to our family.”

She hopes this will include the exploration of new mediums.

“I’m fascinated by regalia and button blankets, but I want to know the proper way – the traditional way – to make a button blanket, not just throwing together something from what I see around me,” she said. 

Younger said the material product of her project is personal.

“A lot of it is this internal growth and learning,” she said. “I feel like (art) brings me a lot closer to that part of my culture and my heritage. That makes me feel proud.”

Campen’s project award will be used to create choreography and a sound score based around the troll fishery.

“In the last year, I have started to toy with this questions of what it would mean to have an Alaska-specific movement vocabulary... for myself and for this place that I love and for these people that I love,” she said.

Sarah Campen (Photo provided)

Campen said her movement vocabulary for dance will represent the physical actions common in the commercial toll industry, including hauling, icing and cleaning fish.

That part of the process is remembering, she said, but it also includes talking about trolling with community members. After that, she says, she builds it into “snippets.”

“My vision for it is that it starts as very realistic interpretations of those movements and then I’ll abstract it,” she said.

She also plans to use audio to further the environment of her piece.

“The piece is a multimedia piece,” she explained. “I want to create an audio soundscape (that) will probably have a piece of music but also bits of interviews with fishers who are close to me – how they fish, what they fish for, how they clean fish, what it means to them.”

Campen began dancing as a child in Sitka, and was a student of Melinda McAdams and Melissa Hantke. Since then, she has maintained an interest in dance, just as she has continued her interest in fishing and in salmon.

“These are things that are both interesting and important to me,” she said. “I’ve always loved to dance – I’m really curious about dance and movement – and I’m really invested in this place. I’ve always depended on salmon. They’re really precious to me.”