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SWAIA announces fellowship winners

SANTE FE, N.M. - The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts will formally recognize the artistic talents and potential of six individuals selected to receive the SWAIA's 2007 Fellowship Awards June 7.

The awards have been presented since 1980 following the development of the SWAIA Fellowship Program, which was created to ''encourage Native American artists to reach their full potential.''

This year's winners are:

*Roger Amerman, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma - beadwork/diverse arts.

*Diane Douglas-Willard, Haida - weaving (basketry).

*Ira Lujan, Taos Pueblo - sculpture (glass).

*Beverly Rose Moran/Bear King, Standing Rock Sioux - beadwork/diverse arts.

*Rainy Naha, Hopi - pottery.

*Penny Singer, Dine' - diverse arts (clothing design).

SWAIA is a nonprofit organization that also puts on the annual Santa Fe Indian Market - the largest American Indian art market in North America.

This year's fellowship award winners will receive $5,000, intended to help them further their artistic career or complete a specific project. Each applicant submitted information to SWAIA detailing what type of medium they worked with and how the fellowship money could help them move forward.

''The funds are awarded to help the professional development of working artists,'' Staci Golar, marketing and PR coordinator for SWAIA, said. ''It's to help them develop marketing plans, buy supplies, pay for travel, etc.''

Douglas-Willard, for instance, said she will be using the fellowship to help her begin work on a Raven's Tail robe - an intricate woven piece.

''I live in Alaska and there are weavers who do this type of weaving, but one of the things I'm using is sea otter fur,'' Douglas-Willard said. ''They're protected animals, so only Alaska Natives can use the sea otters.''

The awards are only presented to adult artists and are not intended for scholarships. Rather, the publicity and money that accompanies each award will help the artist further his abilities. Many past winners have gone on to have years of success in the field of art. Past recipients include Nora Morse, Ramona Sakiestewa, Vanessa Morgan Jennings and Marilou Shultz, all of whom became well known in their field.

''For us I think it's getting them recognition on a national level because it really does promote them,'' Golar said of SWAIA's aspirations in offering the fellowship program. ''It's promoting their talents and creativity to a national audience.

''Winners are also offered a free booth at the Santa Fe Indian Market, an offer few have passed down,'' Golar said. The two-day event attracts 100,000 visitors and features the work of 1,200 Native artists representing roughly 100 tribes.

''Hopefully we're making their artwork be a way they can support themselves and continue on doing that,'' Golar said.

Winners of the fellowship awards have represented a number of different artistic media, including pottery, basketry, beadwork, writing, painting and several others. The list of recipients over the years has also included representation of numerous different tribes from across North America.

When SWAIA presents the fellowship winners with their awards in June, they will also be honoring several other individuals selected as recipients of the SWAIA Lifetime Achievement Awards and Povika Awards.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards are given to individuals who made a significant contribution to the field of American Indian art. This year's recipients are Harry Fonseca (posthumous), Peter Garcia Sr. (posthumous), Michael Naranjo, Lydia Pesata and Pearl Sunrise.

Povika Award recipients are selected for their ''service, leadership and support of the Annual Santa Fe Indian Market, Native artists and their communities.'' This year, SWAIA will present Povika awards to Dick Howard, Tony Reyna and The Poeh Center.

SWAIA itself has made significant contributions to the field of Native art. The Santa Fe Indian Market has been held in one form or another for the past 80 years.