UAS to Honor Anna Ehlers with Honorary Doctorate
Honorary degrees are bestowed on individuals who exemplify a significant and lasting contribution to the University, to the State of Alaska, or to the individual’s discipline or profession.
Date of Press Release: May 3, 2023
The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) uses the occasion of Student Commencement each year to recognize individuals in our community who have offered outstanding service to the University, the State of Alaska, or Southeast communities. Honorary degrees are bestowed on individuals who exemplify a significant and lasting contribution to the University, to the State of Alaska, or to the individual’s discipline or profession. The UA Board of Regents approves candidates who are nominated by local campuses. This year UAS will honor Anna Ehlers with an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.
Anna Ehlers has made significant contributions toward the landscape of traditional arts and culture of Southeast Alaska and far beyond. Anna is rooted in the traditional Tlingit art of Chilkat weaving mastery that goes far deeper than the highly technical weft and weave of mountain goat hair and cedar into exquisite clan regalia.
Her expertise includes gathering and processing of traditional materials, a deep understanding of the complex social structure of Tlingit people represented by the technical and nuanced Tlingit art formline and knowledge of clan histories captured by the classic rules of design. Her work honors the dignity of Tlingit identity, status, and belonging.
“I first saw a Chilkat Blanket in 1959 when I was four years old,” noted Ehlers, “My uncle Roy Brown was wearing it in the Fourth of July parade. The peaceful graceful movement of the fringe, and the tribal design exhilarated me. From that moment, I knew I wanted to make Chilkat blankets for the rest of my life.”
Anna Ehlers’ mastery of Chilkat weaving is both classic and timeless, representing one of the exquisite foundational roots of Northwest Coast Art. This award honors Anna Ehlers for her high caliber of artistic and cultural finesse, and representation of the vital role Indigenous women play in anchoring culture and traditions through art, textiles, and traditions in the past, present day, and for future generations. Her expertise in this tradition has garnered attention from the artist community, nationally and internationally and secured recognition through the National Endowment for the Arts, Rasmuson Foundation, and museums.
Chancellor Karen Carey noted, “Anna is so deserving of an honorary doctorate. Her work is exquisite!” Ehlers will receive her award at the UAS Juneau Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 7, 2023. A reception in her honor is being held on Thursday, May 4 at 4:30 pm in the Glacier View Room (Egan 221) at UAS.
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University of Alaska Southeast