Ucross, the prestigious artist residency program in northern Wyoming, welcomed on Monday the recipients of the Spring 2022 Fellowships for Native American Visual Artists and Writers. Acclaimed visual artist Savannah LeCornu and former Montana Co-Poet Laureate M.L. Smoker will be in residence for the next two weeks, receiving uninterrupted time and space on Ucross’s 20,000-acre ranch at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.
LeCornu is a visual artist and theatre maker originally from Ketchikan, Alaska, who resides in Bellingham, Washington. She is part of the Tsimshian (Wolf Clan), Haida, Athabascan, and Nez Perce tribes and First Nations Nisga’a. LeCornu primarily draws and paints in both traditional and digital formats; her art is centered on representing indigenous people and art forms.
A poet, Smoker is Nakoda, Dakota, and Lakota from the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. She served as Co-Poet Laureate for the state of Montana from 2019-2021, alongside Ucross alumna Melissa Kwasny. In 2021, Smoker was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow.
As part of their Ucross Fellowships, LeCornu and Smoker will each receive a residency that includes a studio, living accommodations, and meals by a professional chef. Ucross will also present each artist with a $2,000 award and a stipend to defray travel costs, as well as the opportunity to present their work publicly.
LeCornu’s work will be featured in a future exhibition at the Ucross Art Gallery. Smoker already presented her work: On March 25, she gave a reading at a dedicated Ucross Uninterrupted reception at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Presented biannually, the awards represent Ucross’s commitment to supporting contemporary Native American art and voices.
“We are pleased to welcome Savannah LeCornu and M.L. Smoker to our ranch and facilities, and we are honored to provide them with uninterrupted time and space to focus on their creative work,” said Ucross President William Belcher.
LeCornu is best known for her Still Here series, which highlights the perseverance of contemporary indigenous peoples, as well as her Indigenize Series, which returns indigenous names to stolen land.
Smoker’s first collection of poems, Another Attempt at Rescue, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 2005. In 2009, she co-edited an anthology of human rights poetry with Kwasny entitled, I Go to the Ruined Place. She received a regional Emmy award for her work as a writer/consultant on the PBS documentary Indian Relay. A children’s graphic novel that she co-wrote will be published at the end of April.
In 2022 and 2023, the recipients of the Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists and Writers are funded, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The next call for applications for the Ucross Native American Fellowships for Visual Artists and Writers will begin June 1.