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Longtime Kodiak artist and educator recognized with statewide award

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After 20 years of teaching art to Kodiak’s school children, Bonnie Dillard retired in 2015, but she said she hasn’t totally stepped away from education.

“I’m still teaching young kids, I do homeschool art and I do artist-in-residence with the villages,” said Dillard. “I love running into my old students around town.”

She’s one of four Arts Champions honored by the Alaska Arts Education Consortium this year. The Kodiak Island Borough School District announced last week that she’d been recognized for her decades of work with young people.

Jon Rowan with the Klawock City School District and Juneau School District’s Amy Rautiainen were also named as Arts Champions for their work in education. High school senior Chase Jimmie from the Yukon-Koyukuk School District won this year’s Student Arts Champion prize.

Dillard has a colorful reputation on Kodiak Island – literally. She helped turn pieces of washed up trash from the island’s beaches into 250 vibrant ornaments that hung from Capitol Hill’s Christmas tree in Washington D.C. back in 2015 when Alaska’s Chugach National Forest supplied the Capitol Tree.

And earlier this month, Dillard was tapped as one of the co-designers of a mural in downtown Kodiak, which will be painted on the street in front of the Visitor’s Center as part of the city’s Asphalt Art Initiative. Her partner for the project is also a former student, Marina Thomas. They’ll unveil their work to the public at Kodiak’s Crab Festival in May – weather permitting.

She said being named for the statewide award the same month was an unexpected surprise.

“It was very kind of them to think of me,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of people who do a lot with kids around the state, so that was very nice.”

This year’s Arts Champions were honored by the Alaska Arts Education Consortium at a recent reception held in Juneau.