Josh Cotton, second from left, poses with his Alaska “Spirit of Youth” art award.

Josh Cotton carves a future in art

‘Spirit of Youth’ award winner

Josh Cotton began carving in his freshman year at the Skagway School. It was a natural progression from the drawing and painting he enjoyed since sixth grade. Now in his senior year and due to graduate with honors next month, the Spirit of Youth Foundation presented Cotton a Fine Arts Award for his carvings of traditional Native Alaskan halibut hooks.
The Spirit of Youth Foundation began in 1997 as a media-based project to address the growing negative image of teenagers and recognizes youth based involvement in communities around Alaska. Cotton was recognized by the SOY for his inspiring of others to learn a new skill or craft for the Sitka Southeast Arts Fest.
The original nomination for the award came from long-time Skagway school teacher Jo Trozzo, who was impressed with Cotton’s dedication to his art studies.
“I think Josh is a really talented young man artistically,” said Trozzo.
Trozzo also said Cotton spent two years at the Southeast Arts Fest to get better at creating the hooks, while fully embracing the Tlingit culture.
“That was very meaningful to me,” she said. “I think he deserved to be recognized for his effort.”
When Cotton first received the phone call concerning his award he was unsure what it meant.
“What did I win?” he asked.
After traveling to Anchorage to accept his award on March 29, Cotton was also surprised when he was called upon to give an acceptance speech.
Cotton thanked Trozzo, and local gallery owners Cara Cosgrove and Bruce Weber of Heart of Broadway, and Bud Rauscher of Echoes of Alaska.
Cotton said Rauscher bought him a carving kit, and Cosgrove and Weber auctioned some of his art and put the money into a scholarship fund and also for art supplies.
“I also want to thank the school for funding my trip and sending me up there (to Anchorage),” said Cotton.
While addressing the crowd in Anchorage, Cotton admonished others seeking to practice the art of carving by saying, “If you ever get a chance to do it, do it.”