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Cathy Summa-Wolfe
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College of Marin Professor Katrina Wagner Wins NEH Grant

Wagner to Visit Native Cultures of Western Alaska and the Pacific Northwest Coast

KENTFIELD, Calif.— March 24, 2010 College of Marin humanities professor and artist Katrina Wagner has won a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities grant to visit and study art and culture this summer in Western Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

Wagner has been chosen to participate in “Native Cultures of Western Alaska and the Pacific Northwest Coast,” a four-week institute that involves lectures by experts in the fields of archeology, anthropology and art history, field trips to remote villages, conversations with and demonstrations by native artists and on-site explorations of native arts and architecture of Pacific Northwest natives in Juneau, Alaska; Queen Charlotte Islands, B.C. and Vancouver, B.C.

“It’s a high honor to receive this award,” said Wagner, who has traveled abroad numerous times and each time incorporated her experience into the classroom. The seminar will include meeting with people involved in preserving the rich creative histories of the Tlingit, Tsimshian and Kwakiutl peoples who are known for extraordinary architecture, masks, and clan and ancestor poles commonly called totem poles. The communities are known for creating very stylized animals such as frogs, bear, coyote and eagles. “This is a rare opportunity to talk to tribal elders and the kind of people you would not have access to as a traveler or even as an independent scholar.”

Wagner has undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Language and Literature from the University of Missouri and UC Berkeley as well as a bachelor’s degree in Mixed Media Art from Sonoma State and a graduate degree in Painting from California College of the Arts. She is an artist who works in different mediums, including fibers and clay, and as a realistic painter, with oil and acrylic. In addition to teaching numerous art, humanities, English and communications courses, she has taught art history field trip courses to Oaxaca and Mexico City, Mexico. She hopes the NEH seminar will help her develop a field course to Alaska.

“This is further research into a culture that was almost lost and is now beginning to thrive,” Wagner said, noting that study and government programs that support native communities are vital to helping native traditions endure and thrive.


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