Chevak Artist Receives a Rasmuson Award

Lisa Unin, a resident of Chevak, has received an award from the Rasmuson Foundation for her traditional Cup’ik parkas.

Using this money, Unin will make two full-sized parkas.

Lisa Unin of Chevak. -Photo courtesy of the Rasmuson Foundation
Lisa Unin of Chevak. -Photo courtesy of the Rasmuson Foundation

When she found out she’d received the award, Lisa Unin felt shocked.

“At first I couldn’t swallow it because I didn’t expect to get an award. Later on I was getting excited and more excited,” said Unin.

Unin, a resident of Chevak, received a Rasmuson Project Award of $7,500. Using this money Unin will make two full-sized parkas. She will speak with elders on how they make the traditional Alaska Native jackets. Once her parkas are completed, Unin will donate them to Alaska museums.

The sealskin and seal gut parkas will be the first Unin will make large enough for a person. Unin typically makes miniature clothes for the dolls her husband makes. She started making these around the age of thirty.

Jayson Smart, with the Rasmuson Foundation, says they choose to give Unin a Project Award because of her commitment to preserving Native culture.

“Overall I think that the panel who reviewed her application was really struck by her commitment to looking at this specific art form and evaluating the importance of trying to keep it alive and supporting somebody like Lisa who’s incredibly skilled at what she does as a skin sewer and in this traditional art form,” said Smart.

The Rasmuson Foundation works to improve the quality of life in Alaska through art. Each year Rasmuson names twenty-five Project Awards, ten Fellows, and one Distinguished Artist. Unin shared the Project Awards with a variety of different types of artists, from traditional Native craftspeople to classical musicians to contemporary sculptors.