rasmusson AWARDS 2020
The Rasmuson Foundation recently named its 2020 Individual Artist Awards. This year marked the first-year groups of artists were allowed to collaborate on projects. Absolute Zero, a collaborative team of four artists, received one of 10 fellowship grants. Absolute Zero will work with sexual assault survivors on sculptural installations in western Alaska. The sculptures will make sound as a metaphor for breaking the silence around violence. A documentary film will record the artistic process and further the message and goal of “absolute zero” sexual violence in Alaska.
The team consists of Sarah Davies, sculptor and project director; Edwin Mighell, ceramic engineer, and Joshua Albeza Branstetter, documentary filmmaker. Rachelle Branstetter serves as project manager.
It is well documented that Alaska leads the nation in rates of domestic and sexual abuse. In Alaska, a movement has arisen to break the silence around sexual violence. Citizens catapulted Justice Michael Corey out of his seat in 2018 after he gave a violent offender a free pass for a sexual assault on an Anchorage woman. Clarice Hardy has sued the City of Nome for failure to investigate her rape. In Kotzebue, Scotty Barr is campaigning against the conditions that allowed his 10-year-old daughter Ashley to be murdered. The purpose of Absolute Zero is to build monuments as a testament to the strength of these voices and a beacon to encourage others to break their silence and contribute to ending the cycle.
Each member of the team has deep roots in on-road, bush, and remote communities in Alaska. Joshua has a prolific film portfolio documenting indigenous and non-indigenous lives. He has focused his lens on themes of reclamation and resilience. His film “Children of the Dig” traced archaeological efforts to recover more than 60,000, 500-year-old Yup’ik artifacts from the eroding shores of the Bering Sea.
Edwin has decades of experience with statewide geology as a retired civil engineer who has visited more than 100 Alaskan communities. He conducts ceramics workshops using local clays and has extensive expertise in formulation of resilient clay bodies comprised of site-specific wild clays. Sarah has facilitated workshops since 2000 and has taught in public schools since 2007. She directed the 100Stone project, a large-scale sculpture installation that is a direct intersection between the arts and healthcare. The surviving sculptures of 100Stone were re-installed at Alaska Pacific University as symbols of survival.
The artists are calling the project Absolute Zero, explains Joshua Branstetter, “because we aspire to build communities with zero abuse. Art is one of the best ways we can take account of our past to heal and build a better future.”
The team is in the planning phase of the project and anticipates physical work and installation will begin in 2021.
For more on Absolute Zero, visit facebook.com/absolutezero.alaska or follow
@absolutezero.alaska on Instagram.