The 2008 Island Treasure Awards went to Kristin Tollefson and Alice Mendoza
Kristin Tollefson is a sculptor and artist whose “commitment to her art has been evident in many venues both on and off the island.” She brings a “quiet strength and sense of beauty to her work and to the community” (as described by an anonymous nominator). Tollefson works predominately with her hands and uses steel rod and wire, creating pieces that range from jewelry-size to large scale public artworks.
Tollefson, who grew up on Bainbridge Island, has an MFA in Metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. She lived and studied extensively in Iceland on sponsored study, which has influenced her artwork. Tollefson’s work has been exhibited both locally and internationally.
She is not only a successful sculptor but also a serious art educator and curator. She has contributed to Island cultural life in many ways, including teaching through Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, the Park and Recreation Department, the City of Bainbridge Island’s Public Art Program, and the Bainbridge Branch Library. She was Director of Education at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle, and prior to that taught at The Attleboro Museum in Massachusetts and for The Rhode Island School of Design Continuing Education program, among other places.
Another nominator described Tollefson’s work as speaking of “silence, precision, poetry, and finesse…her complex techniques give way to simple forms… quietly echoes the flora of the Bloedel Reserve” (next-door to the house where Tollefson grew up).
Alice Mendoza began teaching third grade at Captain Charles Wilkes Elementary School 17 years ago. Her class motto is “Kids Can Make a Difference.” For the past 14 years, Mendoza has inspired her classes to create and sell calendars with the proceeds going to help people in need, including hurricane relief and donations to the Nicaraguan island Ometepe.
Mendoza “educates her students by drawing out their creative abilities, teaching about their island environment, helping them to learn about the problems of the world, and guiding them towards understanding and finding ways to help others…” (as described by an anonymous nominator). She uses visual and performing arts throughout her curriculum.
Each year Mendoza’s class does an extended study of local maritime industry, which includes fieldtrips to Korean Hanjin ships and other vessels. The class does a “Working Harbor Culmination” in which parents and students celebrate by bringing ships that students have researched and created, singing sea chanteys, dancing a Sailor’s Hornpipe.
Besides her classroom teaching, Mendoza is the District Coordinator for K-12 Multi-cultural Education and a member of the District’s Special Education Committee. She spends much of her time helping her students outside of the classroom as well. One nominator describes Alice Mendoza as “a shining beacon” who “dedicates her life to building good relationships and helping children to develop into caring, knowledgeable citizens.”