State of Art: Anchorage photographers and community rally to raise money for marginalized groups in light of national demonstrations

Visitors wander the “I Can’t Breathe” First Friday event at Akela Space in downtown Anchorage on June 5. (Young Kim)

This week on State of Art we’re hearing from local photographer Jovell Rennie. After getting caught up in the frenzy of demonstrations following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Rennie wanted to do something more than just document the local protests. Working with friends, colleagues and community members, Rennie and company put on the “I Can’t Breathe” First Friday and fundraising event at his gallery, Akela Space, in downtown Anchorage.

Demonstrators in Anchorage responding to deaths of African Americans at the hands of police. (Jovell Rennie)

Rennie teamed with local photographers who documented recent protests and organized a last minute, COVID-19 conscious exhibition featuring photos from demonstrations alongside borrowed protest signs seen in the images. We talk about what inspired Rennie to take action, raising over $20,000, and finding the unity in dissent.


Ammon Swenson is Alaska Public Media’s Audio Media Content Producer. He was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. He graduated from UAA in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and integrated media. He’s previously worked for KRUA radio, the Anchorage Press, and The Northern Light.

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