ANCESTRAL, HISTORICAL, & LIVING ARTS of INDIGENOUS PEOPLES of the AMERICAS
NO. 20, FALL 2018
DISPLAY UNTIL OCT. 31, 2018
MICA WOMEN IN BRONZE CONTEMPORARY NATIVE ART BIENNIAL NORTHEASTERN CERAMICS
GWAAI EDENSHAW MAVASTA HONYOUTI BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE LISA TELFORD
CHICKASAW ARTISTS SHOWCASING AT THE 2018 SANTA FE INDIAN MARKET • WE ARE THE SEEDS: SANTA FE
Norma Howard 206 Palace N
Tyra Shackleford 746 LIN W
Daniel Worcester 329 FR N
Billy Hensley 804 MAR
Maya Stewart 720 LIN W
710 LIN W
225 Palace S
Marcella Yepa 659 PLZ
We Are the Seeds artist
THE CHICKASAW NATION ARTS & HUMANITIES DIVISION SEEKS TO CREATE AWARENESS, UNDERSTANDING AND ENJOYMENT OF THE ARTS. JOIN US AS WE CELEBRATE CHICKASAW ARTISTS AND THEIR WORKS AT THE FOLLOWING MARKETS: 2018 SANTA FE INDIAN MARKET ONE OF THE NATION’S FASTEST GROWING NATIVE AMERICAN ART FESTIVALS WE ARE THE SEEDS: SANTA FE 2018
MAY 26, 2018 • SULPHUR, OKLAHOMA FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT THE CHICKASAW NATION ARTS & HUMANITIES AT (580) 272-5520 OR ARTISTINFO@CHICKASAW.NET. FOR MORE INFORMATION,
WWW.CHICKASAW.NET CALL (580) 272-5520 OR EMAIL ARTISTINFO@CHICKASAW.NET.
Shan Goshorn www.shangoshorn.com
Resisting the Mission Solo exhibition by Shan Goshorn of baskets addressing The Carlisle Indian Boarding School September 7, 2018 – February 2, 2019
Public Reception: Friday, October 5, 5–7 pm The Trout Gallery The Art Museum of Dickinson College Carlisle, Pennsylvania www.troutgallery.org
Prayers for Our Children 2015, Arches watercolor paper splints printed with archival inks, acrylic paint, 20.5” × 11.25” × 11.25”, private collection. Cherokee-style basket featuring photo of children at Carlisle Indian School. Woven words include student names; Navajo, Lakota, Kaw, and Cherokee prayers; and Cherokee Memorial Song, “We remember your sacrifices.You will not be forgotten.”
CHEROKEE ART MARKET
Cherokee Art Market is one of the largest Native American art markets in Oklahoma, showcasing the work of 150 elite Native American artists from across North America. More than 50 tribes are represented at the annual event, which features $75,000 in overall prize money. Art forms include beadwork, pottery, painting, basketry, sculptures and textiles. Guests will enjoy a variety of cultural demonstrations throughout the weekend and have the opportunity to purchase artwork directly from the artists. The 13th annual Cherokee Art Market will be Oct. 13 & 14 in the Sequoyah Convention Center at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 per person. Paul King
Toneh Chuleewah Cherokee Nation
Tim Blueflint Ramel
Bad River Chippewa Commanche
Berdine Begay Ric Charlie
Leonard Paquin LagunaPueblo
Ron Mitchell CherokeeNation Painting Demo Joy White
Jane Osti Cherokee Nation
ÂŠ 2018 Cherokee Nation Businesses. All Rights Reserved.
CHEROKEE ART MARKET OCTOBER 1 3 & 1 4
Bill Glass Jr. - “The Discussion Revolves” (sculpture) Best of Class
Sequoyah Convention Center at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa CherokeeArtMarket.com | (877) 779-6977
in Native American Art History and Museum Studies Sept. 14–15, 2018 Mary Eddy and Fred Jones Auditorium Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art and the School of Visual Arts present new scholarship on indigenous museology, curatorial practice and art history. Join us for a series of paper presentations from nationally selected undergraduate and graduate students. The symposium is supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The symposium will begin with a keynote address titled Native Art in the 21st Century: The Future Is Now on Friday evening, Sept. 14, by Kathleen Ash-Milby, associate curator, National Museum of the American Indian.
Seeds of Being June 12–Dec. 30, 2018 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art The University of Oklahoma 555 Elm Ave. Norman, OK 73019-3003 A project curated by students from a Native American Art and Museum Histories Seminar and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
FRED JONES JR.
MUSEUM OF ART
The UNIVERSITY of OKLAHOMA
WEITZENHOFFER FAMILY COLLEGE OF FINE ARTS
SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS
The UNIVERSITY of OKLAHOMA
Tony Abeyta (U.S. Navajo, b. 1965); Seeds, Simply Emerging [detail], 2008; Charcoal and ink wash, 64 5/8 x 76 5/8 in. The James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection, 2010. Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, The University of Oklahoma. For accommodations, please call Visitor Services at (405) 325-4938. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. www.ou.edu/eoo
Northern Plains Indian Art Market
SIOUX FALLS, SD | -30, SEPTEMBER 23 - 24, 2017 September 29 2018 SIOUX FALLS CONVENTION CENTER Sioux Falls, SD
Best of Show Art Preview & Reception September 28, 2018 Old CourtHouse Museum
BUYING OR SELLING INDIAN ART? KNOW THE LAW Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, all American Indian and Alaska Native art and craft products must be marketed truthfully regarding the tribal enrollment and Indian heritage of the artist or craftsperson. Allan Houser, Chiricahua Apache, “Apache Fire Dancer” © 1961, Collection of the Southern Plains Indian Museum, USDOI, IACB
TAKE HOME A TREASURE FROM INDIAN COUNTRY-BUY WORKS PRODUCED BY MEMBERS OF FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED TRIBES. For a free brochure on the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, including how to file a complaint, contact:
U.S. Department of the Interior
Indian Arts and Crafts Board Toll Free: 1-888-ART-FAKE or 1-888-278-3253 Email: email@example.com | Web: www.doi.gov/iacb
Dennis Esquivel Teri Greeves Indian Market 2018
@ LIN E 731
C U LT U R A L C E N T ER
Sculpting Cultures: Southeast and Southwest Native Pottery The Chickasaw Cultural Center is excited to partner with the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research and the Museum of the Red River in this new crosscultural exhibit. Featuring historic Pueblo pottery from the Keres language family, as well as modern pottery from Five Tribes artists, this exhibit celebrates stylistic and cultural diversity within Native pottery-making.
Now open in the Aaittafama' Room.
www.chickasawculturalcenter.com Sulphur, OK
issue no. 20, fall 2018
In Conversation with 26 BACA Curators Niki Little & Becca Taylor By Lori Beavis, PhD (Mississauga)
Seven Directions By Lyle Toledo Yazzie (Navajo)
Clay Cultures and Muddy Waters: Northeastern Woodland Ceramics By Matthew Ryan Smith, PhD
Mettle to Metal: Native Women Sculptors Reign and Pour By RoseMary Diaz (Santa Clara Tewa)
Spotlight: Protect, Honor, 94 and Cherish by Jamie Okuma (Luiseño-Shoshone-Bannock) By Denise Neil-Binion, PhD (Delaware-Cherokee)
Revisiting and Reenvisioning Mica Cutouts By America Meredith (Cherokee Nation)
Art+Literature: Waubgeshig Rice: Wasauksing Ojibwe Author & Journalist By Matthew Ryan Smith, PhD
Collections: 101 National Museum of Mexican Art By Andrea L. Ferber, PhD Calendar
ARTIST PROFILES Gwaai Edenshaw: Haida Carver and Interdisciplinary Artist By America Meredith (Cherokee Nation)
Mavasta Honyouti: Hopi Woodcarver By Stacy Pratt, PhD (Mvskoke)
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Cree Singer-Songwriter and Digital Artist By Jason Morgan Edwards (Seminole)
Lisa Telford: Haida Basket Maker By Kelly Church (Odawa-Ojibwe-Potawatomi)
REVIEWS Exhibition Reviews
EDITORIAL The Perils of Exhibiting 96 Contemporary Native American Art with Edward Curtis By Suzanne Newman Fricke, PhD
cover Pahponee (Kickapoo-Potawatomi), Water, Earth, Sky Vase, bronze, 13 × 10 in., edition of 30. Image courtesy of the artist.
IN MEMORIAM Marlene Riding In Mameah (Pawnee) By America Meredith (Cherokee Nation)
Fernando Olivera Acevedo (Zapotec) By Kevin Simpson
FALL 2018 | 13
Artist-in-Residence Program | Fine Print Studio & Gallery | Non-Profit
Issue No. 20, Fall 2018 ISSN 2333-5548 (Print) • ISSN 2333-5556 (Online) Publishing Editor: America Meredith (Cherokee Nation) Managing Editor: Mariah Ashbacher Literary Editor: Matthew Ryan Smith, PhD (Euro-Canadian) Online Editor: Stacy Pratt, PhD (Mvskoke) Marketing Director: Barbara Harjo (Cherokee descent) Copy Editor: Rosa Cays (Chicana), Jo Ann Reece Proofreaders: Mariah Ashbacher, Staci Golar (Cornish-WelshAmerican), and Jean Merz-Edwards Layout & Design: America Meredith (Cherokee Nation), Chase Kahwinhut Earles (Caddo Nation) Social Media: Staci Golar (Cornish-Welsh-American), Michelle J. Lanteri, America Meredith (Cherokee Nation), Nina Sanders (Apsáalooke), Jackie Sevier (Northern Arapaho), and Neebinnaukzhik Southall (Rama Chippewa)
Great Basin: Melissa Melero-Moose (Northern Paiute-Modoc) Great Plains: Jackie Sevier (Northern Arapaho) Northeast: Kelly Church (Odawa-Ojibwe-Potawatomi) Northwest: Marianne Nicolson, PhD (Dzawada’enuxw Kwakwaka’wakw) Southeast: Michole Eldred (Catawba-Eastern Band Cherokee) Southwest: Holly Coonsis (Zuni)
Editorial Advisory Board
heather ahtone, PhD (Choctaw-Chickasaw) Jonathan Batkin, Wheelwright Museum James T. Bialac, JD Teri Greeves (Kiowa) Emily Haozous, PhD, RN (Chiricahua Fort Sill Apache) Linda Lomahaftewa, Hon. DFA (Hopi-Choctaw) Mary Jo Watson, PhD (Seminole) Ken Williams Jr. (Northern Arapaho-Seneca) India Rael Young, PhD
Barbara Harjo (Cherokee descent), firstname.lastname@example.org International distribution by Disticor Magazine Distribution Services. First American Art Magazine, LLC, is not responsible for the content of any article or for the statements of any advertiser. First American Art Magazine welcomes queries about editorial submissions. The magazine is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, or artwork.
MARWIN BEGAYE Evening Song six-color lithograph 28 x 22 inches, limited edition hand printed & published at Crow’s Shadow Press, 2018
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I D Y L L W I L D
A R T S
S U M M E R
P R O G R A M
Native American Workshops & Festival 2018 Idyllwild Arts Summer Program - The summer tradition that began in 1950 to bring the best artists in their fields to teach under the pines continues today. The Native American Arts Program and Festival includes exhibits, lectures and performances, as well as intensive hands-on workshops in Cahuilla & Hopi Pottery, Tohono Oâ€™odham & Cahuilla Basketry, Hopi Jewelry, Navajo Weaving, Beadwork, California Native Plants; as well as music, dance, theater, visual arts, writing and filmmaking, for ALL AGES - from age 5 to 105!
June 18-July 2 Scholarships for Native American adults and kids available for all workshops!
Register Now! firstname.lastname@example.org 951-468-7265
TIME FOR A NEW DISCOURSE
HILE NATIVE ART MARKETS happen year-round, summer and fall feature the most of markets. The undisputed largest of these, the Santa Fe Indian Market, attracts almost a thousand artists and a reported 100,000 visitors. New markets based on this model of direct sales between artist and collector, often in an outdoor settings, are launched at a dizzying pace. While they provide unpretentious and lively ways to showcase Native art, they are so ubiquitous that I wonder if people forget that Native art can be exhibited in other ways. Art markets can become their own world in which certain artists, organizers, and collectors navigate exclusively. Native artists and scholars often voice concern that Native art is pigeonholed or ghettoized in a small corner of the larger art world. Language is a tool in this process. The Native art market scene has its own vocabulary that can work against Native art being taken seriously by mainstream audiences. Although it feels like I’m spitting back at the ocean, it’s time to drop the dichotomy of traditional and contemporary. These terms have so metastasized that they seem inevitable, but I assure you they are not. When paired together they form, at best, a tired, empty discussion and, at worst, a racist one that suggests Indigenous art techniques, media, and styles are irrelevant to today’s world. The fundamental problem with this duo is that it pairs a value-based term with a time-based term. Traditional is an ill-defined term but represents much of what we value most within our tribes: knowing one’s culture, speaking one’s language, and following tribal protocols around correct behavior. It means something slightly different to different audiences. As Scott Ennis (Cherokee Nation) puts it, “Tradition is like corn bread; everyone has their own recipe.” At Santa Fe Indian Market, for example, “traditional pottery” implies locally sourced and hand-processed clay that is hand-coiled and fired outside, as opposed to a kiln. Meanwhile, “traditional painting” would be gouache or distemper on watercolor paper or mat board (all purchased from a store) painted in Flatstyle that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s at San Ildefonso Pueblo, the University of Oklahoma, and Santa Fe Indian School. When attempting to define what “traditional” art is across intertribal, interregional boundaries, a time element is implied— traditional art is what our ancestors made before contact or before the 20th century. However, with only the slightest scrutiny, this theory falls apart quickly. Iñupiat men developed baleen basketry between 1914 and 1918; but Tsimshian photographer Benjamin Haldane already had a professional photography studio open by 1899. Maria and Julian Martinez created a matte-on-glossy blackware pottery (often known as “black-on-black”) in 1917; however, John Young Deer (Nanticoke) began directing films in 1909, followed by Edwin Carewe (Chickasaw) in 1914. Are films and photography accepted as more traditional than matte-on-glossy blackware pottery or baleen basketry? Of course not. But why? Because racist stereotypes, many adopted 16 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM
by Native people, persist today and suggest that Native people use “natural materials” but don’t use “technology.” This runs contrary to verifiable facts—in this issue Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree) discusses being on the vanguard of digital art more than 30 years ago—yet this deeply entrenched sentiment persists. Meanwhile, contemporary is ostensibly a time-based term. The mainstream art world defines it alternatively as art made after the 1970s or 1989 (when the Berlin Wall fell, ushering the collapse of the Soviet Union) or as 21st century art or art by a living person. While media such as video, installation, photography, and performance are privileged, contemporary art, by definition, spans any material or process. Contemporary art addresses current realities.
Rebirth and renewal are hallmarks of the Native art world but are left out [of] the conversation.… Used within the Native art market context, “contemporary” is applied as arbitrarily as “traditional.” Typically non-Flatstyle, non-naturalistic painting qualifies as contemporary, as does abstract sculpture in metals, or jewelry with metals or stones not historically used by Pueblo peoples (even if they have been used by tribes from other regions). Never mind that Pueblo people have been painting hard-edged, abstract paintings on cotton canvases for centuries. Basically, so-called "traditional Native American art" is what mid-20th century European-American art writers in the Southwestern United States deemed it to be. That 21st century Native people follow suit is tragic. Years ago, the Santa Fe Indian Market incorporated these two terms into its standards, and smaller markets have too often copied them without critique or question. Together, these terms imply two different poles, with the underlying connotation being that traditional art reflects Native materials, techniques, and aesthetics, while contemporary art reflects Western materials, techniques, and aesthetics. Things Native American are “old,” when things Western are “new.” No facts back up this sentiment, but it colors much of the discourse at Native art markets. How many times has a Native practice as recent as the 19th century been labeled as “ancient”? An extreme example is the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) labeling jewelers using materials culturally significant to their tribes as “prehistoric.” These are living artists creating artwork in 2018. Contemporary art is considered to be experimental and innovative—and some is—but an aerosol painting or glass sculpture is just as eligible to be derivative or clichéd as a ceramic vessel or basket is to be intriguing and topical. Back in the modern era of art, approximately the 1870s through the 1960s, the prevailing mainstream narrative was that artists were freeing themselves of the constraints of traditional
techniques established in Europe (representational painting and sculpture); the old had to make way for the new. However, the Native American experience has been that our art-making practices have been disrupted by disease, warfare, forced relocation, starvation, active suppression, legal censure, and forced assimilation through schools, churches, and military. We haven’t been fighting to escape our own cultural practices; our cultures have been violently wrenched from us, and what Native peoples have maintained and reclaimed has been in defiance of outside forces that continue to try to overwhelm us. If a Native artist is working in a material used by her or his tribe for centuries, that artist is still making a statement by creating it in 2018. While we critique the early 20th-century notion of the “Vanishing Indian,” the idea that Native cultural practices are dying persists. And yet, how many Indigenous art practices are currently being revived by individual artists and extended tribal communities today? Rebirth and renewal are hallmarks of the Native art world but are left out when the conversation is centered on traditional versus contemporary. While the paired terms traditional/contemporary are used to describe art by other communities, they are most commonly reserved for work created by brown artists, including those of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern heritage. Indigenous American artists and other artists of color are not outside of time, another empirically verifiable fact that runs against entrenched racist views. This fallacy was introduced by German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831), who saw non-Western peoples as existing outside of history. It’s well past time to put these outdated, racist views of long-dead European men to rest and not let them guide our thoughts today! Unspoken assumptions are often the most salient in a conversation. They frame what is spoken and art writers and scholars seek to bring them into the light. A dichotomy parallel to traditional/contemporary would be unassimilated/assimilated. Does the artwork use Western media, techniques, and symbolism? Assimilated can mean conforming to mainstream social mores, but it can also mean conforming to the romanticized expectations that non-Native people have of Native Americans. Conversely, how many articles declare a Native artist to be both traditional and contemporary? Every single artist on the planet simultaneously draws from what has been previously created and the current context of their own time and place. It would be equally as revelatory to write, “The artist is a carbonbased life form and breathes oxygen.” On the prevailing topics of the day, including sustainability, economic equity, restorative justice, overcoming trauma, community-building, and preserving biodiversity, Native artists have a wealth of ideas to contribute to the world dialogue. This might not always be neatly packaged as an installation in a museum with a lengthy artist statement however. You might be called to reflect upon the juxtaposition of two colors on a ribbonwork shawl, a particular weave in a cedar bark hat, or an etched pattern in a whelk shell disc. The journey toward understanding Indigenous art is challenging, but the outcome could be life-changing. —America Meredith FALL 2018 | 17
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS MARIAH ASHBACHER earned a master’s degree in art history from the School of Visual Arts at the University of Oklahoma. She has curatorial, registration, and collection management experience from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. She is an adjunct professor of art history at Oklahoma City Community College and the managing editor of First American Art Magazine. LORI BEAVIS, PhD (Michi Saagiig Anishinaabe, IrishWelsh-Canadian), is an independent curator, art educator, and art historian based in Montreal. She is a band member of Hiawatha First Nation at Rice Lake, Ontario. Her doctoral research (Concordia, art education, 2016) investigated the intersections between lifelong art experiences and cultural identity in the lives of four contemporary Indigenous women artists. Her curatorial work, research, and emerging art practice—most often articulated in narrative and memory in the context of family and cultural history—also reflect on questions of cultural identity, art education, and self-representation. Beavis serves as a member of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective (ACC) Tiohtià:ke Project Advisory Committee.
NATIVE AMERICAN ART APPRAISALS, INC. SINCE 1936
KELLY CHURCH (Gun Lake Ottawa-Potawatomi) is a black ash basket maker, birchbark biter, and 2018 NEA National Heritage fellow. Based in Michigan, Church learned how to harvest, process, and weave black ash from her cousin John Pigeon and her father, Bill Church. She collaborates with her daughter, Cherish Parrish. Church earned her BFA degree from the University of Michigan and her AFA degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is an outspoken activist and educator about saving the black ash tree from the emerald ash borer. ROSEMARY DIAZ (Santa Clara Pueblo) is a freelance writer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She studied literature and its respective arts at the Institute of American Arts, Naropa University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. From query of idea to characters on the page, her feature, “Mettle to Metal,” took almost a year to produce. Generous thanks are hereby expressed to all eleven artists who participated in the creative process of warming the ink. JASON MORGAN EDWARDS (Seminole-AfricanAmerican) has been practicing photography for more than 30 years. He began his career as a freelance writer and photographer in 2010, after retiring from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He earned his BA degree in economics from Case Western Reserve University, where he also earned minors in English, art, and marketing. He has written for several publications including American Indian, the National Museum of the American Indian’s magazine; Native Peoples; Indian Country Today Media Network; Navajo Times; and The Independent (Gallup). In his writing he strives to tell our stories, in our way, using our own words. ANDREA L. FERBER, PhD, is an art historian and independent curator. She has taught for seven universities and worked at four museums. Her current project is parenting a teenager. ALICIA INEZ GUZMÁN, PhD (Chicana), is a writer and editor based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She holds a doctoral degree in visual and cultural studies from the University of Rochester, New York, and writes about place, histories of land use in the Americas, and contemporary art. Her website, Tierra Firme Projects, received a 2017 Andy Warhol Arts Writers Grant.
CALL EMAIL VISIT
(855) NAAA-INC INFO@NAAAINC.COM WWW.NAAAINC.COM
18 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM
SCOTT W. HALE, ISA AM, is an art academic, adviser, and accredited appraiser for Native American Art Appraisals, Inc., with offices in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Tulsa, and New York City. He pursued his master’s and doctoral studies at the University of Oklahoma, where he taught in the Native American studies department and lectured in the School of Art and Art History. Hale is a former curator of private, corporate, and nonprofit art collections and has written and lectured for several publications and museums.
MICHELLE J. LANTERI is a Mellon predoctoral fellow in Native American art history at the University of Oklahoma. Her recent exhibition collaborations include Wendy Red Star: The Maniacs (We’re Not The Best, But We’re Better Than The Rest) and Itaa Katsi: Our Life, An Exhibition of Hopi Art. Lanteri earned an MA in art history at New Mexico State University and a BA in art history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. JEAN MERZ-EDWARDS has studied art history since 2000, when she attended her first classes on the subject at Hunter College in New York. She earned her master’s degree in art history from the University of Oklahoma and was granted a certificate in women’s and gender studies and the Alice Mary Robertson Award for her scholarship on the life and art of Linda Lomahaftewa (Hopi-Choctaw). Merz-Edwards teaches art history at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas.
BENJAMIN HARJO JR. WE ARE A LANDSCAPE OF ALL WE KNOW
DENISE NEIL-BINION, PhD (Delaware-Cherokee), earned her master of arts degree in Native American art history from the University of New Mexico and her doctoral degree from the University of Oklahoma. Her research interests include Prairiestyle beadwork, Native American painters in Oklahoma, and humor and cartooning in Indigenous art. She recently began her tenure as the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. SUZANNE NEWMAN FRICKE, PhD (AshkenazicAmerican), wrote her art history dissertation at the University of New Mexico on 20th-century Native pottery. She has taught art history at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, the University of New Mexico, and the Institute of American Indian Arts. She has curated three exhibits, Octopus Dreams: Works on Paper by Contemporary Native American Artists; As We See It: Photography by Contemporary Native American Artists; and Woven Together: Celebrating Spider Woman in Contemporary Native American Art, which traveled to Russia, Japan, and the United States. STACY PRATT, PhD (Mvskoke), is a writer, musician, and independent scholar. She earned a master’s degree in literature from the University of Arkansas and a doctorate in creative writing (poetry) from the University of Southern Mississippi. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. KEVIN SIMPSON is the director of Peyote People, a Wixáritari and Mexican folk art gallery and has recently opened another gallery, Colectika. Both follow fair-trade practices and are devoted to promoting Indigenous culture. Simpson graduated with an honors degree in political science from the University of Western Ontario in 1994. He lives in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico.
Benjamin Harjo Jr., Heaven and Earth, 2009, gouache, pen, and ink, 37 x 29 ½ inches
JULY 10 - DEC 8, 2018 RECEPTION: OCTOBER 4 Comprised of a selection of more than thirty rarely seen works on paper, prints, and sculpture, drawn from several private collections, this exhibition explores how Benjamin Harjo Jr. (Absentee Shawnee and Seminole) creates his place in the world.
MATTHEW RYAN SMITH, PhD (Euro-Canadian), is curator of the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant in Brantford, Ontario. 720 S. Husband Street, Stillwater, OK | museum.okstate.edu SUMMER 2018 | 19
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS MUSEUMS
The Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop will open its doors this September in Kinngait, Nunavut, also known as Cape Dorset. Supported by the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative and the municipality of Cape Dorset, the 10,440 square-foot space will house Kinngait Studios and feature meeting spaces, classrooms, exhibition rooms, a retail area, a visitor center, archives, and an outdoor sculpture garden. The center is named for Kenojuak Ashevak (Inuk, 1927–2013), one of the most celebrated and beloved Inuit artists from the 20th century.
The annual Red Cloud Indian Art Show, the oldest continuing, Indigenous, juried art show in the United States celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer. Hosted by the Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the show featured more than 150 artworks by 80 artists. Special award winners were Marlena Myles (DakotaMohegan-Muscogee), Br. CM Simon, SJ, Purchase Award; Kevin Pourier (Oglala Lakota), Judge’s Choice Award; Randilynn Boucher (Dakota-Navajo), Founder’s Award; Roger Broer (Oglala Lakota), Oscar Howe Award; Bryan Parker (Apache-Muscogee-Choctaw), Visual Sovereignty Award; Tani Gordon (Sicangu Lakota), Continuum Award; Nelda Schrupp (Nakota), Abstract Award; Emily Her Many Horses (Oglala Lakota), Representation Award; Dwayne Wilcox (Oglala Lakota), Humor Award; Dustin Twiss (Oglala Lakota), New Artist Award; and Sandy Swallow (Oglala Lakota–Cheyenne), Standing Rock/No DAPL Award. Division award
The Museum of Contemporar y Indigenous Art, in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, reopened its doors on July 13, after being closed due to an earthquake on September 19, 2017. Some items from the permanent collection were damaged or destroyed, and the museum is in danger of closing after its employees walked out in June. Six workers sued the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos (UAEM), which oversees the museum’s collection of works from twelve Indigenous groups of Mexico, because they had not received payment of their salaries in three months.
winners were Charles Her Many Horses (Sicangu Lakota), painting, and drawing; Roger Broer, graphics; Marlena Myles, photography/digital art; Angela Babby (Oglala Lakota), mixed media; Kevin Pourier; three-dimensional; James Star Comes Out (Oglala Lakota), cultural art forms; and Molina Parker (Oglala Lakota–Cheyenne), adornment.
ART FAIRS & MARKETS The Best in Show winner at the 5th annual Artesian Arts Festival was Troy Jackson (Cherokee Nation). Hosted by the Chickasaw Nation, the art market in Sulphur, Oklahoma, features work by 110 Native American artists. Classification winners were Norma Howard (ChoctawChickasaw), painting; Bryan Waytula (Cherokee Nation), drawing; Kathryn Langley (Chickasaw), photography; Tonya Lowrance (Cherokee Nation), graphic arts; Jackie Sevier (Northern Arapaho), mixed media; Pegg y Immohotichey (Chickasaw), textiles; Tyra Shackleford (Chickasaw), textiles, handwoven; Chase Kahwinhut Earles
On July 1, the Art Gallery of Toronto (AGO) opened its J. S. McLean Centre for Indigenous and Canadian Art, which has been newly reenvisioned to privilege Indigenous arts’ position in relation to Canadian arts. Wanda Nanibush (Beausoleil Ojibwe), the AGO curator of Indigenous art, and Georgiana Uhlyarik, the AGO curator of Canadian art, co-curated the 13,000-square-foot exhibition space guided by the themes of origins, land, water, transformations, self, and First Nations and Inuit art that speaks specifically to Indigenous audiences. Construction began in June on the highly anticipated Inuit Art Centre (IAC) at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture, the $65-million project will become the largest venue for Inuit art. The IAC is scheduled to open in 2020. 20 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM
above Marlena Myles (Dakota-Mohegan-Muscogee), Aŋpétu Wí (Morning Light), 2017, digital art. Image courtesy of the Heritage Center of Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, SD, winner of the Br. Simon Purchase Award. opposite Leonard Gene (Navajo), Evening Purse, silver, turquoise, leather. Best of Show winner at the 2018 Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival, Indianapolis, IN.
(Caddo), sculpture, ceramics; Marcella Yepa (Jemez Pueblo–Chickasaw), pottery; Gene Smith (Choctaw-Lakota), sculpture, other; Abraham Begay (Navajo), jewelry, stone and organic; Toneh Chuleewah (Cherokee Nation), jewelry, metal; Lauretta Newby-Coker (Choctaw), diverse; Vivian Cottrell (Cherokee Nation), baskets; Deana Ward (Choctaw), jewelry, beaded; Yonavea Hawkins (Caddo-Delaware), beadwork/ quillwork; Sheila Little Harjo (Seminole), dress and regalia; Jerry Sutton (Cherokee Nation), musical instruments; Daniel Worcester (Chickasaw), weaponry; Glenda McKay (Ingalik Athabascan), diverse, cultural; and Jimmie Fife-Stewart (Muscogee), miniature. Best of Show winner at the 6th annual Native POP: People of the Plains was Keith BraveHeart (Oglala Lakota). Susan Hudson (Navajo) won the innovation award, Joanne Brings Thunder (Eastern Shoshone) won the publicity award, and Martin Red Bear (Oglala–Sicangu Lakota) won people’s choice. Division winners were Nelda Schrupp (Nakota), adornment; Henry Payer (Winnebago), two-dimensional; Karis Jackson (CrowHidatsa-Arikara), three-dimensional; and Kaylie Hairychin (Standing Rock Sioux), emerging. The Honored One for the 32nd annual Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma was basket maker Mary Aitson (Cherokee Nation). The Grand Award Winner was Ron Mitchell (Cherokee Nation). Nelda Schrupp (Nakota) won the President’s Award, and Tonya June Rafael (Navajo) won the Kathleen Everett Upshaw Award. Division winners were Yonavea Hawkins (Caddo-Delaware), beadwork; Alberta Henderson (Navajo), textiles; Daniel Worcester (Chickasaw), cultural items; Dylan Cavin (Choctaw), drawing/ graphics/photography; Lauretta NewbyCoker (Choctaw), diversified artwork; Jolene Bird (Kewa Pueblo), contemporary jewelry; Clifton Aguilar (Kewa Pueblo), traditional jewelry; Micqaela Jones (Western Shoshone), painting, oil/acrylic; Derek No-Sun Brown (Shoshone-Bannock), painting, waterbased; Chase Kahwinhut Earles (Caddo),
traditional pottery; Chase Kahwinhut Earles (Caddo), contemporary pottery; and Gene “Iron Man” Smith (ChoctawLakota), sculpture.
The 26th annual Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market and Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana, featured 113 artists. Best of Show winner was Leonard Gene (Navajo). Dana Warrington (Menominee-Potawatomi) and Summer Peters (Saginaw Chippewa) both won Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Awards, and Jody Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo) won the Helen Cox Kersting Award. Division winners were Bryan Waytula (Cherokee Nation), paintings, drawings, prints, photography; Walter Torres (Acoma Pueblo), sculpture; no award given, carvings and dolls; Leonard Gene, jewelry; Jody Naranjo, pottery; Mike Dart (Cherokee Nation), basketry; Rosie Taylor (Navajo), weavings and textiles; Dana Warrington, cultural items; Summer Peters, beadwork; no award given, collaborative; and Sequoia Anderson (Navajo–Ho-Chunk), youth.
AWARDS & HONORS The National Endowment for the Arts named Kelly Church (PotawatomiOdawa-Ojibwe) as one of its 2018 National Heritage fellows. Church, who comes from an unbroken line of black ash basket makers in southwestern Michigan, has been a tireless advocate for the preservation of the black ash tree, Fraxinus nigra, since the species’ future is threatened by the invasive emerald ash borer. Church is also a birchbark biter and educator, who has hosted language and culture camps for Anishinaabe peoples.
The Rasmuson Foundation named Alvin Amason (Sugpiaq) as its 2018 Distinguished Artist. A mixed-media wildlife artist, Amason has served as director of Native Arts at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, for 17 years. His award comes with a $40,000 stipend. Allison Akootchook Warden (Iñupiaq) and Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit-Unangax) each received fellowships with an $18,000 stipend to develop their art over a year. Delores Churchill (Haida), Noah Lincoln (Yup’ik), Alison Marks (Tlingit), Robert Mills (Tlingit), Ricky Tagaban (Tlingit), Colleen Firmin Thomas (Gwich'in), Amber Webb (Yup’ik), Sarah WhalenLunn (Iñupiaq), and Peter Williams (Yup’ik) received project awards, accompanied by $7,500 each to complete a specific art project.
LEGAL MATTERS Otomi artists from Tenango de Doria, Hidalgo, Mexico, won a major legal battle against prominent companies Nestlé and Liverpool, a department store. The artisans filed suit claiming plagiarism and appropriation of their cultural iconography. As part of the settlement, Liverpool will provide space in their stores for Otomi artists to sell their own work. Lori Idlout, owner of Carvings Nunavut, a gallery in Iqaluit, became first new licensee of the Igloo Tag Trademark in 45 years and the first Inuk to ever issue these trademarks. The Canadian government introduced the trademarks in 1958 to protect Inuit art from non-Native knockoffs. In 2017, the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs transferred control of the trademarking system to the Inuit Arts Foundation.
ARTWORKS Antique dealer Ray Stevenson discovered 60 pieces of children’s artwork in an attic in Shreveport, Louisiana, back in 2000. Through research, he discovered that they were made by Navajo students from Chinle Boarding School. Stevenson purchased the artwork and has been working with Navajo artist Elmer Yazzie to possibly curate a public exhibition of the works. FALL 2018 | 21
LYLE TOLEDO YAZZIE
ORN IN SHIPROCK, New Mexico, and raised in the small remote community of Pueblo Pintado, Lyle Toledo Yazzie now lives in Placitas, New Mexico. In 1984 and 1985, Lyle studied graphic arts and illustration at Utah State University, and in 2012 and 2013 he went on to study business administration with an emphasis on art. With experience as a national park ranger and the retail bookstore manager at Chaco Culture National Historical Park, he gained insight in the diversity of people, travel, and art.
From 2012 to 2016 Lyle served as the American coordinator of Indigenous Brilliance, a contemporary American Indian art exhibition that brought awareness of Native American arts to the world. Lyle creates original, handmade jewelry with design inspiration from Chacoan prehistoric rock art and Navajo iconography. Some of his new design concepts include sensual, erotically spirited themes. He also creates bold politically inspired collage art, often worked on recycled postcards, which provoke spirited conversations.
ABOVE: KUPR. Coming out of the airwaves above, my radio is set to KUPR low-power FM 99.9. For two hours every week, I volunteer, hosting an all-Indigenous music show. Broadcasting from the village of Placitas, KUPR offers diverse programming, including my “Indigenous Brilliance” show with DJ Lyle T. I chose this title because it poignantly describes the talent of many Indigenous artists. “Indigenous Brilliance” and all KUPR programs can be heard worldwide via the internet at KUPR.org.
CENTER: Ya’ah’teeh. Hello, my name is Lyle T. Yazzie. I am Diné (Navajo), of the Salt clan, and born for the Tangle clan. I grew up in the small remote community of Pueblo Pintado. My center, and current residence, where I create, is Placitas, located in a rugged landscape on the northern slope of the Sandia Mountains with a rich “New Mexico” history. I am a silversmith but also create drawings and build collages. The local environment provides endless inspiration. The community of Placitas has embraced me as an artist, allowing me to participate in the annual Mother’s Day weekend Placitas Studio Tour and the popular Placitas Holiday Artists Christmas show. ltydesign.com Creativity has always been a deep part of my soul and culture. It’s who I am, and the calm of Placitas allows me to create in peace. Join me on a short, literary road trip from my studio in Placitas around New Mexico to important places I know. 22 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM
BELOW: Earth. Grounded. Mother Earth. The places I walk, the prehistoric people who came before and the nature that surrounds me inspire me to create art that tells my story as a Five-Fingered human being. Rock art and landscapes are often shared in my designs. What are the ancient ones telling us? My interpretation of their images serves as a window from us to them. Every cloud, coyote, corn stalk, and silence quietly sings through my work. The chaos my shoes have endured. The joy my heart has beat. The difficulties and satisfaction I have experienced are links to our Mother Earth and provide rich inspiration for a new piece of art every day. I have a heartfelt concern for the earth and humans. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. NORTH: Capulin Volcano. The recent volcanism in Hawaii and Guatemala provoked me to visit one of Northern New Mexico’s ancient volcanoes: Capulin. Established in 1916 as a national monument, protected by the National Park Service, Capulin Volcano preserves a perfect cinder cone volcano formed 60,000 years ago. The national monument provides an up-close experience into an ancient volcano. A trail to the bottom of the caldera allowed me a natural way to walk into Mother Earth. My imagination ran as I thought, What if this volcano erupted, I’d be blown out into the sky. That would be exciting! Looking up and around the rim, the cone surrounded me with lush vegetation and rough volcanic rocks. I also could not help but think of the current state of our Mother Earth “letting off steam” through volcanoes and other natural disasters. I am grateful that America saw value in natural things and set aside special places including Capulin.
EAST: Fort Sumner. Hwéeldi is the Navajo word for this place. I recently, reluctantly fulfilled my curiosity to visit and experience Fort Sumner Historic Site. Desolate only begins to describe this lonely place. Hwéeldi was an internment camp for Native Americans, primarily Navajo. In 1864 over 8,000 Diné men, women, and children were marched over 380 miles to Fort Sumner and held captive for four years. After an introductory walk through the visitor center, I went outside. The land is barren; there are no hills, only a few trees, and a scant creek. My visit there was to connect with those who suffered, to emotionally see the pain, and try to understand what they survived by envisioning myself there, then. I sensitively imagined how it feels to be taken away from your home and visualized the cruelty the prisoners endured. One hundred, fifty years later, I can understand how joyful it was for our Navajo people to be given freedom to return to Dinétah, our homeland, within the four sacred mountains. The signing of the Treaty of 1868 was a turning point for the Navajo people. We have endured well.
above, left Lyle Toledo Yazzie (Diné), Earth & Humans, 2011, sterling silver pin/pendant. All images courtesy of the artist. above, top Capulin Volcano National Monument. All photos, unless otherwise mentioned: Lyle Toledo Yazzie (Diné). above, bottom Fort Sumner Historical Site, NM. Photo: Ed Chamberlin. opposite, top Lyle Toledo Yazzie. Photo: Ed Chamberlin. opposite, far left Placitas, NM. opposite, near left Illustration by Lyle Toledo Yazzie, 2000.
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Park Service ranger at Chaco Culture National Historical Park. My time there gave me occasion to discover and learn about the Ancestral Pueblo peoples. The Chacoan glyphs, walls, canyons, and buttes firmly inspire my artwork. The recent oil exploration north of Chaco Canyon deeply angers me. But it too inspires my work. As artists, we express our position through art, for or against issues important to us. A painting, a performance, a photograph, sculpture, provocative jewelry, or song can be used to present our concern, working toward change. I often express attention to environmental issues through my artwork. Art can and does make the change.
SOUTH: The Rio Grande River meanders its way from southern Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico through mountains, plains, valleys, and hills, and across the high and low deserts of New Mexico. Water is Life! Water is life for humans and animals, and without it we would not exist. My dog, Spike, loves the Rio Grande. Whenever we spend time at “the river,” he romps up to his belly, gulping gallons of quenching joy. The current drought has me worried. Today “the river” dries out before it gets to El Paso. Endemic plants in my yard are suffering. When I walk along the Rio Grande every willow, cottonwood tree, and minnow begs us to respect them. We need to do more to help preserve and protect our water. WEST: Near my home, in Pueblo Pintado, a huge ruin stands on a hill west of the small town. This “Chacoan Outlier,” Pueblo Pintado (painted village) had over one hundred rooms including at least 19 kivas. I was fortunate to have worked as a National
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left Lyle Toledo Yazzie (Diné), Death by Drought, 2018, conté crayon on paper. right Lyle Toledo Yazzie (Diné), Chaco Canyon National Monument, 2015, collage on postcard.
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2018 Indian Market Shows Thursday August 16: Salvador Romero (Cochiti) 2 pm – 6 pm
Friday August 17: Kateri Quandelacy Sanchez (Zuni/Acoma) 2 pm – 6 pm
Saturday Aug.18: Jennie Vicenti (Zuni) Lynn Quam (Zuni) Jayne Quam (Dine') Kandis Quam(Dine'/Zuni) Elroy Natachu, Jr. (Zuni) 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday Aug.19: Youth Show Robert Cachini, Jr. (Zuni) Jaren Cachini (Hopi/Zuni) Joseph Namingha (Zuni/Tewa-Hopi) Joshua Namingha (Zuni/Tewa-Hopi) 11 am – 5 pm
In Conversation with
BACA CURATORS NIKI LITTLE & BECCA TAYLOR By Lori Beavis, PhD
Lori Beavis (LB): Can you each tell us about yourself and the art or curatorial-based work that you do or have done?
IKI LITTLE (OJI-CREE) AND BECCA TAYLOR (CREE) are the co-curators of the fourth edition of the Contemporary Native Art Biennial/La Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (BACA) exhibition, níchiwamiskwém | nimidet | ma sœur | my sister. They brought together 45 artists from Canada and the United States for this edition entirely devoted to women. It explores the multiple relationships that constitute the concept of sisterhood—whether they are intergenerational, based on friendship, blood, solidarity, or born of adversity, struggle, or joy.
I attended all four openings over a busy weekend in May, which were held at different venues in Quebec: La Guilde and Art Mûr in Montreal; Stewart Hall Art Gallery in Pointe-Claire; and Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts in Sherbrooke. Afterward I sat down to speak with Little and Taylor about the experience of curating the exhibition and programming. We met in a sound- and light-filled coffee shop on two different days. During our time together we had a chance to discuss their art and curatorial practices and how their skills and life experience naturally brought them to the theme of “my sister.”
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Niki Little (NL): I am Niki Little, Wabiska Maengun (White Wolf), and I am from Garden Hill First Nation, Manitoba, now based in Winnipeg. I am of Oji-Cree and English descent. I am a mum, artist/ observer with my own arts and curatorial practice, and an arts administrator. I am the director for the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (an organization for people working in the media arts who are or who work with Indigenous artists), and I am a founding member of the Ephemerals (the Winnipeg collective that also includes Jaimie Isaac and Jenny Western). As the Ephemerals we have been working together since 2010 to investigate and interrogate perceptions of Indigenous identity through aspects of material culture, particularly those involving clothing and fashion. My first curatorial project in 2016 was enendaman | anminigook with Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke), Amy Malbeuf (Métis), Kenneth Lavallee (Métis), and Jeneen Frei Njootli (Vuntut Gwitchin), with work that spanned cultural practices such as regalia, caribou hair tufting, mark making, and ceremony utilizing the mediums of sculpture, painting, video, and performance. That exhibition was also grounded in works that act on and expose the voice inspired by Indigenous matriarchy that is also grounded in the artists’ personal experiences.
Becca Taylor (BT): I am a multidisciplinary artist and curator of Cree, Scottish, and Irish descent. I am from Edmonton, Alberta, and I am currently based there. I am part of the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective—a collective that programs four projects each year. We don’t have a space, but we activate spaces in Edmonton to create interactions with the Indigenous community locally and nationally. More broadly, this reflects my own practice because it involves investigations of Indigenous community building and Indigenous feminism through various mediums including video, text, and installations. I have been the recipient of a Canada Council curatorial residency and a practicum program at Banff. The residency was as the Aboriginal curator-in-residence from the Canada Council for the Arts in 2015, and took place at Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art gallery in Winnipeg. It led to the exhibition, Traces (2017), which was an examination of displacement through colonialism of Indigenous bodies in urban environments with artists Tanya Lukin Linklater (Alutiiq), Dion Kaszas (Hungarian-Métis-Hawaiian-Interior Salish), and Jaime Black (Métis). The program was the Indigenous Curatorial Research Practicum at the Banff Centre, when I curated A light left on (2017). This exhibition was drawn from the Walter Phillips permanent collection with works that explored materials and community as contemporary practice for Indigenous artists. Each of these residencies and the related exhibitions acknowledged the ways in which Indigenous communities continue to exist and resist. LB: How long have the two of you known one another? NL: We met in Winnipeg in 2012 at Urban Shaman. I had just had a baby, and Becca had recently moved to the city. We worked together at Ndinawe [an at-risk youth shelter] at the North End Arts Centre with Indigenous community groups, youth, and women working on culturally based skills. BT: I have a long history of working within the Aboriginal communities in Edmonton and Winnipeg, so I was happy
to take on the art program coordinator position for the North End Arts Centre. There Niki and I were able to organize our first project together, Walking Beyond, a youth-led exhibition that responded to Walking With Our Sisters from a specifically Winnipeg-based perspective. For a long time I have been interested in collaboration and building relationships to help create a safe place to express yourself and your feelings—the work in the Ndinawe art program was aimed at connecting art activities with actual life experience and at the same time promoted creative expression and building confidence.
above, top Jeneen Frei Njootli (Vuntut Gwitchin) and Tsēmā Igharas (Tahltan), Sinuosity, performance documentation. All images courtesy of the author. above, bottom K.C. Adams (Cree) and Jaime Black (Métis), Nibi (water), BACA performance at Stewart Hall Art Gallery, Pointe-Claire, QC, May 6, 2018. Photo: Mike Patten (Cree). opposite Becca Taylor (Cree) and Niki Little (Oji-Cree), cocurators of níchiwamiskwém | nimidet | ma sœur | my sister for the fourth edition of Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA), Montreal, QC. Photo: Andrea Dyck.
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lived in Winnipeg at that same time. We realized how much we rely on our kin to get things done, and also how much the things we were interested in, like fleshing hide or other cultural skills, relied on working with other people. Our projects became about gathering and doing more [customary] or land-based things in the city while building community and relationships, which brings me to where we are on this project and thinking about collective work. We were noticing how much Indigenous women work collectively together, and from this we developed the idea as a proposal for the BACA Biennial. BT: As Niki said, our relationships or collaborations have often been sisterbased (or sister-like). We realized that we worked well together and that we could express ourselves and our ideas to one another. We felt very strongly that we could activate women’s voices and that we could take on the challenge of working in the context of BACA. We applied through the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective/Collectif des commissaires autochtones (ACC/CCA) call for submissions. The ACC is a great organization that has worked to activate Indigenous voices and, in this way, build capacity for artists and curators across the country.
above, top Euroma Awashish (Atikamekw), Kakakewok, 2018, installation view at Stewart Hall Art Gallery, BACA. Pointe-Claire, QC. Photo: DPM. above, bottom Lita Fontaine (Dakota-Ojibwe-Métis), A Woman’s Drum, 2001, BACA installation view at Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Art, Sherbrooke, QC. Photo: François Lafrance. opposite Hovak Johnston (Inuk) women’s tattooing at la Guilde, BACA, Montreal, QC. Photo: Mike Patten (Cree).
NL: We found that our ideas were closely aligned as we had similar ideas around learning, teaching, and using cultural skills, especially in situations when people gather and work together.
LB: Can you speak to the theme of my sister for the 2018 BACA exhibition, níchiwamiskwém | nimidet | my sister | ma sœur?
LB: It seems natural the two of you would then apply to co-curate the Contemporary Native Art Biennial/La Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (BACA) in Montreal. How did you come to do this?
BT: We took the idea of women as sisters as a way to think about how women nourish—as a responsibility but also as a way to build relationships with one another and, through this, build community and create safe spaces. This theme also enabled us to think about how we build or expand kinships or allyship and to ask questions about how we can be better allies.
NL: While we were in Winnipeg, we were recognizing the importance of sisters. We each have a sister and we found we keep coming back to each other—whether supporting or promoting each other’s practice, reading and editing our work, or talking through our ideas—and we all
NL: The theme gave us a chance to think about all types of relationships and to figure out things like feminine space and what is the definition of that space. As we worked with the theme, we were continually thinking through the language, and over time our conversations were
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transforming as we acknowledged how the concept of sister can be defined in so many different ways. LB: The exhibition is large and divided up among four spaces across the city and beyond, with the fourth site at Sherbrooke, Quebec [155 kilometers or 96 miles from Montreal]. How did you conceive the four spaces? NL: Well, at first we tried to divide the spaces by thematic words around the idea of types of sisterhood, but then there were so many cross-collaborations … and some elements worked but others didn’t. BT: In the end we decided to use the surroundings of each gallery space or the space within the gallery as the way to define each of the four venues. However, throughout the entire exhibition, there are always traces of the land and water at each site. For example, at the Stewart Hall Art Gallery situated on the shore of the St. Lawrence River, KC Adams’s (Cree) Nibi (water) (2016) referenced the water, and small vessels of river water were carried into the gallery; Euroma Awashish’s (Atikamekw) Kakakewok (2018) is a work in which traces of water and land come through in the installation of the circle of crows tied in some way to a bowl of water. Each of the works in this exhibition space signify both transformation and communication between each of us, our ancestors, the land, and water. At a site such as la Guilde, we concentrated on the body through the use of jewelry, clothing, or tattoos to exemplify how we claim identity through the choices we make related to our bodies. NL: Similarly at Art Mûr, the space is activated as a site of gathering where the works invite you in, act as a safe space, and offer hospitality. There are also references to family and caring for one another as women and keeping one another’s secrets. Artworks reference being on the land, but it is mostly about women gathering together. At the Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts, art by women distills many of the elements of all the sites combined. The artwork shown in Sherbrooke represents women making space for one another or occupying space as they continue to honor other women/other sisters.
LB: Did you hesitate at all as you made the decision to exclusively exhibit women’s work? NL: Our priority was to bring in work by women as artists who ranged from emerging to established. This is because we felt that there is work being done in our communities by women that is not always recognized. We also felt that it was important to bring in work that speaks to our past, present, and future. For example, Lita Fontaine’s (Anishinaabe) A Woman’s Drum (2001) is a big powwow drum that addresses the exclusion of women from the drum. The drum is centered with a woman’s heartbeat (an amplified beat emanates from the installation) that sustains us all.
and this applied to the selection process through to the programming. BT: Yes, we were thinking about community and gathering in all its different forms, and the way people come together to create food, to bead, to print posters, or to protest. We wanted to consider these as elements outside the gallery space and how they could be brought in to the gallery. We wanted to talk about the whole view of how we perceive ourselves. We also thought about street art and fashion or clothing as wearable art but also as a way to talk and think about how we hold things on and through our bodies as actions.
In our choice of artists we were careful not to champion particular artists, but we did include those with whom we have had previous relationships, to honor them and the moments we have had with them. We also believe this has been a chance to make new relationships that will continue to grow after this exhibition.
NL: I think our methodology was based on the ways people gather. I think, for example, of the Métis art historian, curator, and artist Cathy Mattes and her idea of curating as “kitchen table talks” and utilizing the ways Indigenous people gather. So, we looked at these strategies, for working inside and outside the gallery, to ground our work in Indigenous structure, organization, and thought.
LB: Were you guided in the choices you made by any particular methodology, for example, a feminist or Indigenous epistemology?
LB: Not to push this too far, but did you articulate feminism or intersectional feminism in the decisions you made as curators?
NL: I think our methodology for this curatorial work was grounded in community- or relationship-based practices,
NL: For myself, I approach this as Indigenous women and feminism existing side by side. And it is an ongoing FALL 2018 | 29
process—especially by talking with different artists, curators, and community members and thinking through what it means, especially with the exclusion of Indigenous and women of color from first-wave feminism and the length of time it took for intersectionality to happen. I think about an artist like Lita Fontaine and the way she talks about tribal feminism, and what does feminism mean to me? I feel that we are constantly working through it, and so many people identify it many different ways. In the end I come from a place where Indigenous women and men have roles that are defined through our responsibilities to one another and to community. BT: I find it is difficult to define and tricky to identify as a feminist. I feel it is more about roles and responsibilities within community and family and the land. For the exhibition, it was a chance for us as curators to look at an under-represented group and support their ideas, and give them a platform and a safe space to create and explore their ideas. We asked ourselves, how can we bring these conversations and ideas into the gallery space and change the subtexts? NL: It is important to say that we began with noticing the number of women’s art collectives and how they worked together through kinship and other connections. We also thought about how these collectives nourish feminine spirit in all its forms and extend beyond a space that is female-identified/nonbinary/two-spirited;
extend beyond what we originally proposed and beyond conversations and relationships that we can’t necessarily speak to. But the artists felt comfortable with the way we were talking and the ideas we had about kinship and nourishment. That helped us think beyond feminism and more toward collective responsibility and gathering as an action. LB: The programming created around the exhibition at the different sites brought women’s voices into the spaces in another way. Why did you feel you needed to include these other components (Inuit tattooing, film series, women’s drumming and singing circle, and even before the exhibition opened, the community beading circles)? BT: For us, the additional programming added to the conversations. For example, the film screening gave us a chance to explore more of what women are doing and gather more women and their work into the gallery spaces. For me it was let’s bring in as many bodies as possible! The performances at Stewart Hall and at McCord Museum were another way to connect people with community and to examine the artists’ presence and their intentions. Also, the ephemera of the performances was a reminder of presence. The inclusion of women’s tattooing at la Guilde by the artist Hovak Johnston (Inuk) was a way to think through how we make connections and act as allies. We
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had a half-tent built for this because the artist wanted to act on what people in the city or an urban space like Montreal miss and the importance of seeing, hearing, and being a part of something from “home” and being on the land. It was crucially important for us to have different bodies and voices brought into the gallery spaces, and then it was exciting to see people engage in conversations and connect with one another. NL: We wanted to have a feast with the community, but this time it didn’t work. Instead we incorporated Caroline Monnet’s (Algonquin) video work, Creatura Dada (2016), to further the idea of feasting and sharing a moment to celebrate with the Montreal community. Caroline collaborated with us to create a new piece that was an expansion of the table the six Native women feasted on in the video, Creatura Dada. The video and related installation created an invitation to feed and nourish our guests on the opening night. It was then fitting that Odaya [a woman’s drumming and singing group with Émilie Monnet (Anishinaabe-French), Dayna Danger (Métis-Ojibway-Polish), Nahka Bertrand (Dene-Québecoise), and Anik Sioui (Wendat-Anishinaabe-FrancoCanadienne)] would also do an opening song for that event. This again speaks to who is doing the community work here and who is representing the women. This is such important and integral work as
above Odaya, a woman’s drum group, left to right Dayna Danger (Métis-Ojibway-Polish), Émilie Monnet (Anishinaabe-French), Nahka Bertrand (Dene-Québecoise), and Anik Sioui (WendatAnishinaabe-Franco-Canadienne), Montreal, QC. Photo: Tonya Fawn. opposite Caroline Monnet (Algonquin), screen shot of Creatura Dada, 2016, 3:20-minute video, stereo, Montreal, QC. Photo: Caroline Monnet.
it shows how communities are thriving. And if through programming we can give money to support these artists and their work, we felt this was a good thing to push for. Some things, because of the budget, we weren’t able to do, but we are hoping that we may be able to include some of these other things in the exhibition that is taking place in Mississauga later this year. For the programming, this was a way for us as curators to step back as we can’t speak to all the spaces—where do we fit within this and to acknowledge when we needed to take a step back and let others speak. LB: Finally, the inclusion of the anonymous baskets from the Canadian Handicrafts Guild historic collection— can you speak about the importance of including women’s work that has no name attached?
NL: The baskets at Art Mûr that came from the Guild’s historic collection of handicrafts brings into the exhibition the history of women, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, as they gathered, interacted, and made work together, and is yet another example of community action. The 14 baskets are anonymous and come from different regions of the country. I feel the baskets speak to the futurity of the materials as they also speak to the named and the unnamed. It was important to acknowledge the women’s presence from the past in the exhibition space. BT: With the women’s baskets, we wanted to acknowledge women’s work; we also wanted to cherish them and have them visit with us again. The way they are displayed meant that we can connect with them on an intimate level. It was a small gesture, but it gave us a chance to reconnect with other voices, think about care, and how we care for one another. And
it was exciting to see how these baskets spoke to the other work in the exhibition.
CONCLUSION THE TWO CURATORS were forthcoming, engaging, and eager to discuss the artists and work included. Their words and ideas were free-flowing, and our conversations were lively. My notes were a positive blur that reflected this energy. There was much to discuss because this exhibition brought together and revealed the richness that Indigenous female, queer, and two-spirit narratives can bring. The work in the exhibition spaces was diverse—ranging from installation to video, sculpture, printmaking, fibers, sound art, political posters, and more. Through these various mediums the artists were able to examine or reinvent identities and relationships and make space for exchange and understanding. The curators gave the artists the space so that their voices could be heard. FALL 2018 | 31
CLAY CULTURES AND MUDDY WATERS Northeastern Woodland Ceramics "My work is based on acknowledging people. Every piece has a written explanation that I allude to that person no matter what their religion or background is; I allude to the goodness of them. People like that because it is personal … so the philosophy is one of recognition to an individual." —Steve Smith (Mohawk), Talking Earth Pottery1
By Matthew Ryan Smith, PhD
N 1984, Kickapoo and Potawatomi artist Pahponee traveled to Oklahoma with her husband to visit a friend, who took them to visit a large herd of buffalo on a nearby ranch. They called to the buffalo, and several started moving toward the group. In the herd, Pahponee spotted a large white buffalo with black hooves, black horns, and dark brown eyes; then a stark white calf stepped out from behind her. Buffalo are believed to be sacred beings that allow for contact with ancestors while providing the sustenance for life itself. For the Plains people, the prophet White Buffalo Calf Woman (Ptesáŋwiŋ) visits the Lakota during a terrible famine and gifts a čhaŋnúŋpa (sacred pipe) and seven sacred ceremonies. After offering her spiritual guidance and feelings of hope, she leaves the people yet promises to return in the near future. The story of Ptesáŋwiŋ speaks of renewal. Pahponee’s remarkable experience drove her to produce a series of ceramics
including a small pot of pure white clay featuring relief sculptures of buffalo. Soon thereafter, Pahponee received a surprise telephone call from White Buffalo Gallery in Washington, DC, informing her that they were interested in purchasing her work. As a result, she turned to a career in pottery. She visited museum collections, compiled research on historical techniques and methods, gathered clay from ancestral lands, and contacted Elders to soak up their cultural knowledge to then experiment.2 “The verbal instruction, guidance, and encouragement from my Elders is what I began with,” says Pahponee, “As their descendant, I too can continue to create pottery that is meaningful to myself and others, and I can continue to manifest forms of beauty that still follow the old ways.”3 Contemporary ceramics engage with the past in ways that painting, sculpture, and drawing cannot—by being one of the oldest (if not the oldest) forms of
human ingenuity. The movement to save, renew, and grow thousands of years of ceramic practices gained momentum in North America after 1960. For Pahponee and several other artists, the (re)discoveries made by their grandparents unfold possibilities for transforming material, iconography, and form. This essay focuses on Northeastern artists with attention given to ceramics produced after 2000. Perhaps more than any other medium created by Indigenous artists, pottery finds itself not only disconnected but segregated from other media in galleries, museums, and archives. It is often conceptually positioned in a historical vacuum—treated as anthropological or ethnographic in origin, “artifacts” that exist beyond the scope and scale of contemporary art objects.4 Pottery tends to be wedged between “high” and “low” forms of representation, which can relegate them to the realm of “craft”; as a consequence, they slip into “primitive”
1. Steve Smith in discussion with the author, June 5, 2018. 2. For more on Pahponee’s inspiration story see: Christy A. Vezolles, “Manifest Destiny: Guided by Fate, Kickapoo Potter Pahponee’s Life Comes Full Circle,” Western Art Collector, no. 64 (December 2012): 44–49. 3. Pahponee, email correspondence with the author, May 25, 2018. 4. Ellen Taubman, “Changing Hands: At the Intersection of Past and Future,” in Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation; Contemporary Native North American Art from the Northeast and Southeast, Vol. 3, ed. Ellen Napiura Taubman and David Revere McFadden (New York: Museum of Arts and Design, 2012), 10.
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above Pahponee (Kickapoo-Potawatomi), Buffalo Nation Bowl, 2012, natural red clay, fired outdoors with Northeastern Woodlands buffalo dung, 10 in. diameter. Image courtesy of the artist.
and “less advanced” discursive categories when compared to European art. As “craft,” proposes Bruce Bernstein, “[Indigenous] art is interpreted as a replication of existing forms, rather than the celebration of creativity, change, and continuity that it presents.”5 The question surrounding the cultural and museological “status” of ceramics as art or craft is closely related to the vectors of European colonialism. In Canada, the Indian Act of 1876 is a living document of federal law that segregates through reserve communities, assimilates through residential schools, and qualifies through Indian status. According to Bonita Lawrence, “The Indian Act … is much more than a body of laws that for over a century have controlled every aspect of Indian life. As a regulatory
regime, the Indian Act provides ways of understanding Native identity, organizing a conceptual framework that has shaped contemporary Native life in ways that are now so familiar as to almost seem ‘natural’.”6 The correlation between the legislative “status” of Indigenous peoples of Canada and the museological “status” of Indigenous cultural objects in galleries, museums, and archives is transparent. By segregating Indigenous ceramics from other artistic movements and media, its status as artifact, craft, or artwork is not only uncertain but its value is diminished. Hegemonic power, classification systems, and political ideologies that regard the colonial subject as Other will almost certainly approach the artwork and visual materials as Other, too.7 This concept explains the segregation of Indigenous
ceramics today, and also the art-versus-craft line of thinking that continues to drown in the mud. Ceramics are at once one of the oldest tools in existence and an aesthetic language of contemporary art. The integration of pottery and everyday life in the Northeast is claimed to have developed at the end of the Archaic Period and the beginning of the Early Woodland Period (approximately 1050–450 BCE). It signaled a profound shift toward an expansive accumulation of domesticated plants, freshwater fish, and other existing resources; nevertheless, it also facilitated long-term storage of foodstuffs, social class, the establishment of trade networks, and expressions of individual and tribal identities. What precisely influenced hunter-gatherer communities to evolve
5. Bruce Bernstein, “It’s Art: ‘Keep Talking While We Keep Working, But Hold It Down so I Can Hear Myself Think,” in Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation; Contemporary Native North American Art from the West, Northwest, and Pacific, Vol. 2, ed. Ellen Napiura Taubman and David Revere McFadden (New York: Museum of Arts and Design, 2012), 176. 6. Bonita Lawrence, “Gender, Race, and the Regulation of Native Identity in Canada and the United States: An Overview,” Hypatia 18, no. 2 (May 2003): 3. 7. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?,” Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, ed. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994): 76.
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pottery use remains speculative and largely unknown.8 After European contact, in the wake of upheaval caused by warfare and disease, and during the early colonization period of the 18th century, Indigenous communities abandoned their customary pottery practices and traded for European cooking and storage materials such as pots, pans, cups, saucers, and dishes fashioned out of tin, copper, and iron.9 This shift indicates the beginning of a critical and symptomatic loss of cultural materials that have not been fully recovered. The re v iva l of Nor t he aster n Woodlands ceramics emerged after the middle of the 20th century when a generation of artists actively sought to rediscover local materials and techniques. Around this time, Mohawk artist Elda “Bun” Smith (1919–1976) researched historical Mohawk pottery after she had collected potsherds scattered near her home on Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve in southwestern Ontario. In 1962 the Ontario Arts Council funded potter Tessa Kidick to give pottery lessons on Six Nations, which encouraged fellow Mohawk artists such as Oliver Smith, Darlene Smith, Sylvia Smith, Dee Martin, and Karen Williams to reclaim lost practices of pottery and established the Mohawk Pottery workshop. Digging their own clay and firing pots in the earth, their dedication marks one of the first revivals of Indigenous pottery in the Northeast.10 Mohawk Pottery’s commercial and critical popularity soon spread, as did its influence among fellow potters in Canada and the Northeastern United States. In the 1970s Mohawk Pottery disbanded, so Elda and her husband Oliver founded Talking Earth Pottery on Six Nations where it is operated today by Elda’s son, Steve, and Steve’s wife, Leigh. Steve Smith’s widely collected pottery employs the ancient technique sgraffito, a 8. See: Karine Taché, Daniel White, and Sarah Seelen, “Potential Functions of Vinette I Pottery: Complementary Use of Archaeological and Pyrolysis GC/MC Data,” Archaeology of Eastern North America 36 (2008): 63–90; Laurence M. Wolf, “Pre-Contact Pottery and the Woodland Occupations of Vermont and the Northeast: A Closer Look at the Significance of the McNeil Site (VT-CH-93),” The Journal of Vermont Archaeology 13 (2003): 1–18; Olive Patricia Dickason, A Concise History of Canada’s First Nations, adapted by Moira Jean Calder (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). 9. Virginia M. Eichhorn, “FROM THE EARTH: Contemporary First Nations Clay” (Waterloo, ON: Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery, 2005): 2, web. 10. Ibid.
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subtractive process meaning “to scratch away” in Italian. Clay is immediate, a reactive math that can be added to or subtracted away. Incorporating historical Iroquois designs with current subject matter, his pots regularly integrate 15 to 20 layers of slip (colored, liquid clay) to lend rich surface textures. For Smith, clay is a vehicle for Indigenous stories to be told, seen, heard, and shared—this is precisely where Talking Earth derives its name and one of the reasons why many of Smith’s pots come with a handwritten message of the story that inspired it. “Telling a story is a powerful method of transferring knowledge and experience,” explains Joe D. Horse Capture (A'aninin). “The practice is vital to preservation and continuance.”11 This may be the reason why Elda’s knowledge has been passed down to Steve and Leigh’s daughter Santee and granddaughter Semiah to bear four generations of Talking Earth Pottery since 1960. Much like Mohawk pottery, the revival of Oneida pottery has expanded to numerous public and private art collections as well as being the subject of critical exhibitions in the United States. One of those responsible is Rose Kerstetter (Oneida Nation). Born in Oneida, Wisconsin, in 1918, Kerstetter began producing pottery in the 1960s and in 1972 mentored under noted Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo potter Geronima Abeyta (1904–1996). Several years later, in 1979, Kerstetter graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts at 60 years of age. Her work fuses Oneida aesthetics with Pueblo manufacturing techniques and is recognizable for its use of commercial, stoneware clays fired in electric kilns, although she occasionally pit-fires ceramics with locally harvested clay.12 Similar to Elda Smith, Kerstetter was deeply concerned with reviving Oneida pottery, so she returned to Oneida to run workshops and volunteer at the Oneida Nation Museum, sharing stories and researching Haudenosaunee archives. Kerstetter’s mentorship affected generations of Oneida potters including Ken Metoxen and Jennifer M. Stevens.
Metoxen is the owner of Peace Stone Studio in Oneida where he produces Iroquois pottery using stoneware clay, low-fire clay, and self-processed found clay. In 2015, he produced a clay cooking pot for chef Arlie Doxtator to use in a workshop at the inaugural Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit in the Oneida Nation in 2016. Many of the Oneida people had not cooked in clay pots since their relocation from New York State to Wisconsin in 1821.13 During the food summit, Doxtator cooked early Oneida food like corn mush in Metoxen’s pot and became one of the first to do so in over a century.14 The return to clay cooking vessels bridges nearly two hundred years of history on a single plate and also confronts how European colonialism
above Steven Smith (Mohawk) and Santee Smith (Mohawk), Unity, 2016, ceramic vase. Image courtesy of Talking Earth Pottery. opposite, top Steven Smith (Mohawk), Todah, 2017, ceramic jar. Image courtesy of Talking Earth Pottery. opposite, bot tom Rose Kerstetter (Oneida Nation). I m a g e co u r te sy o f H o ka Skenandore (Oneida-Oglala Lakota-Luiseno-Chicano).
11. Joe D. Horse Capture, “Time-Honored Expression: The Knowing of Native Objects,” in Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native American Art, ed. Karen Kramer (New Haven, CT, and Salem, MA: Yale University Press and Peabody Essex Museum, 2012), 76. 12. Judith L. Jourdan, “Iroquois Pottery,” Oneida Cultural Heritage Department (September 2013): 2, web. 13. Elizabeth M. Hoover, “Indigenous Chefs at the Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit, Oneida Nation, Wisconsin,” from Garden Warriors to Good Seeds: Indigenizing the Local Food Movement (April, 19, 2015), web. 14. Ibid.
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a b ov e Peter B. Jones (Onondaga), Turtle Island– Sky Woman, 2004, stoneware, 16 × 10 in. Image courtesy of the artist. opposite, top Courtney M. Leonard (Shinnecock), BREACH #2, 2016, ceramic on pallet. Image courtesy of the artist. opposite, bottom Peter B. Jones (Onondaga), Effigy Pot, clay, 7 1/8 in., collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Image courtesy of the artist.
not only dismantles the mechanisms of artistic production but Indigenous food cultures as well. Onondaga-Seneca potter Peter B. Jones has steadily increased the visibility of Iroquois pottery by creating stoneware pots and sculptural objects that reside in national and international museums. His distinct style revisits early Haudenosaunee hand-constructed coiling, slab assembly, and pit-firing with wood. In 1964, at the age of 16, Jones moved to Santa Fe to study visual art at the Institute of American Indian Arts. There he trained in Indigenous and Western methodologies
and mastered wheel-throwing techniques under the tutelage of seminal Hopi ceramicist Otellie Loloma (1921–1993). He returned home to Cattaraugus Reservation in the late 1970s realizing that he was more familiar with Southwestern pottery than with his own people’s pottery customs. So, from 1977 to the present, Jones immersed himself in Iroquois pottery as a way to recover lost practices and share them with students of the Six Nations Confederacy. “My philosophy has not changed much since then,” Jones recalls, “which is to make art based on my Native culture. I interpret my life and culture into the pottery and sculpture I make. I create a visual history in clay of the life and events of Native people in this contemporary world.”15 In his workshops and classes, Jones also stresses the cultural and spiritual value of building pots from start to finish without the use of new technologies. Doing so emphasizes the capacity of clay to heal physical and psychological wounds. Not only was it applied as an ointment for cuts and bee stings, but it was also used during World War II to treat soldiers with “shell shock” or “combat fatigue,” known today as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).16 Like the victims of trauma during WWII, Jones believes that the healing properties of clay can affect positive change for Indigenous peoples living with generational or intergenerational trauma. Once more, we find examples of clay’s function as an aesthetic object and as a therapy. In the expanded field of contemporary Northeast ceramics, artists such as Carl Beam (M’Chigeeng Ojibwe, 1943–2005), Rebecca Belmore (Lac Seul Ojibwe), and Courtney M. Leonard (Shinnecock) have pushed the physical, ideological, and political limits of clay. Beam is an important figure in Canada’s art history, being the first artist of Indigenous decent to have his work, The North American Iceberg, purchased by the National Gallery of Canada under the category “Contemporary Art.” In 1979 he and his family moved to Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, where they would stay for 26 years. In downtown Santa Fe, Beam and his wife, Ann, stumbled upon
15. Peter B. Jones, email message to author, May 7, 2018. 16. See, for example: Eric Pera, “Arts4Vets helps veterans with psychological health issues,” Daily Commercial (August 13, 2017), web.
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a cupboard of Mimbres bowls in an art gallery on the square.17 This breakthrough set off a chain of events that saw the artist explore the pictorial and narrative potential of hemispheric bowl designs: “The hemispherical quality of a large bowl still excites me like no cup, teapot, plate or other clay shape can do,” observed Beam, “It is a universe unto itself where anything can happen—the designs are limitless.”18 Whereas a number of these handmade ceramics feature themes and imagery threaded through his paintings and other media—snakes, shaman, ravens, buffalo— others address sociopolitical concerns and significant public figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Anwar Sadat, Mother Theresa, and Anne Frank.19 In the work Ceramic bowl (“Anne Frank 1924–1945”) from 1987, Beam paints an effigy to Frank on earthenware complete with glazed patterning and sgraffito linework. The affinity between the violence committed by the Nazis during World War II and those carried out by colonial settlers on the Indigenous populations centuries earlier is palpable here. Beam included cryptic verses that point to the kinds of pastiche he became known for—gripping visual cues that elicit participation by viewers to locate alternative meanings; furthermore, his choice of imagery and material bridge past events with those of recent memory, rendering time nonlinear and history a social force. In 2013 Rebecca Belmore was commissioned by the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg to produce a major work for their inaugural exhibition. For thousands of years the land surrounding the city felt an Indigenous presence, and nearly 500,000 artifacts were excavated from Earth beneath the museum, including ceramic sherds.20 To produce the work, Belmore erected a makeshift studio at a local Winnipeg Indigenous co-op and invited members of the public. Individuals were supplied with clay from the Red River Valley and asked to squeeze it tightly in their hand, forging a molded clump that was then pierced through the middle to be hung as a bead. The result is Trace, an enormous sculptural blanket—30 feet 17. See: Virginia Eichhorn, “It’s All Relative: Carl, Ann, and Anong Beam” (Waterloo, ON: Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, 2005), 8. 18. Beam quoted in Virginia Eichhorn, “On the Table: 100 Years of Functional Ceramics in Canada,” Ceramics Monthly 55, no. 6 (June/July 2007): 22. 19. See: Janet Catherine Berlo and Ruth B. Phillips, Native North American Art (Oxford: Oxford University, 1998), 54. 20. Lee-Ann Martin, “Rebecca Belmore’s Trace: Hands of generations past and those that will come,” Canadian Museum for Human Rights (March 12, 2014), web.
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above Pahponee (KickapooPotawatomi), Lily Vase, 2016, natural white clay, kiln fired, 12 in. tall. Image courtesy of the artist. opposite Pit-firing student pots. Photo: Peter B. Jones (Onondaga).
high and 20 feet wide—composed of approximately 14,000 fired clay beads. To some Indigenous communities, blankets represent colonial subjugation and economic exploitation; for instance, there is evidence to suggest that blankets were used to infect Indigenous tribes with the smallpox virus in the 18th century.21 and were also utilized in exploitative trade that advanced settler industry. Belmore’s unfolding relationship with clay involves the manipulation of matter, of mud, of
Earth itself, thus the history of the land and its people. By hanging the abstracted blanket of clay from the ceiling, Belmore traces the burden of colonialism and the poetics of absence.22 Hers is a blanket of colonial fallout. Courtney Leonard, too, politicizes clay but as a means of confronting nation-to-nation treaty agreements, state legislation, and ecological crises. The Shinnecock Indian Reservation is located on 750 acres of land three miles west of Southampton on Long Island, one of the wealthiest postal codes in the United States. In the 18th century, the Shinnecock lost more historical territories to encroachment by colonial farmers, which eventually led to a thousand-year lease of a parcel of land around Southampton. In 1859, settlers broke their contract to expand their holdings, driving the Shinnecock to reduce their territory once again.23 In opposition to these legacies of containment, Leonard asks, “Can a culture sustain itself when it no longer has access to the environment that fashions that culture?” Her recent studio practice investigates the meaning of the word breach in order to illustrate the current world’s relationship to the Shinnecock above and below the water’s surface: issues relating to rising waters, coastal erosion, toxic shellfish, nitrogen runoff, fishing rights, water rights, land privileges, and Shinnecock cultural stewardship of historical territory and whales.24 In BREACH #2 (2016), Leonard fabricates between 48 and 60 teeth from the lower jawbone of a single adult sperm whale in ceramic and stacks each atop a wooden shipping pallet. The pallet functions as a kind of plinth but also as a powerful metaphor for global shipments of capitalist commodities that threaten Earth with waste, toxic pollution, and climate change. Though Leonard’s work tackles the challenges facing Shinnecock identity, it also writes a visual logbook for the Anthropocene, a geologic period when the destructive activities of humans commit irreversible harm to the Earth. The Anthropocene
21. William M. Fowler Jr., Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, 1754–1763 (New York: Walker & Company, 2005), 277. Captain Simeon Ecuyer, a Swiss mercenary fighting for the British, distributed smallpox-infested blankets and a handkerchief to Delaware and Shawnee people at the Siege of Fort Pitt during Pontiac’s War in 1763. 22. For more, see: Claudette Lauzon, “What the Body Remembers: Rebecca Belmore’s Memorial to Missing Women,” in Precarious Visualities: New Perspectives on Identification in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture, ed. Olivier Asselin, Johanne Lamoureux, and Christine Ross (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2008), 173. In the durational performances Vigil (2002), Belmore memorializes missing and murdered Indigenous woman and girls who have disappeared from Vancouver. 23. Paul Harris, “Native American tribe reclaims slice of the Hamptons after court victory,” The Guardian (July 10, 2010), web. 24. Courtney M. Leonard, email message to author, May 31, 2018. 38 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM
eventually leads to mass extinctions, and a number of scientists insist that we are currently living it. One of the critical issues facing contemporary ceramics today is that Western epistemology and empirical systems fail to look deeper into clay’s dimensions of meaning; that the complexities of knowledge must take into account different textures of understanding such as those that can be felt, experienced, or sensed. Archaeology, anthropology, art history, and other academic disciplines often devalue or ignore Indigenous philosophies as “unscientific folklore.”25 According to archaeologist Leo Pettipas (Mi’kmaq descent), discussions surrounding Indigenous pottery are elastic and should be approached in more than one way. Pettipas observed that archaeologists tend to denounce the notion that Indigenous potters can function as spiritual creators while their vessels might contain extraordinary powers seldom recognized; for instance, the Cree re-creation story of the world details how the special pot of hero Weesakayjac becomes filled with clay
scooped by a muskrat. Weesakayjac boils muskrat’s clay over and over again until it spills over his pot and builds up layers of the Earth as we know it today.26 Pettipas’s use of Weesakayjac to describe the spiritual capacities of pottery is comparable to
Pahponee’s connection to White Buffalo Calf Woman, which helps us to define how Western and non-Western forms of knowledge and worldview can unfold more nuanced studies of contemporary ceramic practices.
25. Leo Pettipas, “Pottery,” Manitoba Archaeological Society (August 2016): 4–5, web. 26. Ibid, 5.
benjamin harjo jr. american indian artist birds of wonder, 2017, gouache on arches watercolor paper, 19 × 27 inches
B E N JA M I N H A R J OJ R .CO M
KIOWA JEWELER AtaumbiMetals.com
Santa Fe Indian Market August 18 & 19, 2018 Booth 125-POG
BLACKBURN ART STUDIOS James Blackburn Joanna Underwood Blackburn
Owwatta (They’re Hunting) by James Blackburn 19” H x 20” L x 15” W, Bronze
Located at the ARTesian Gallery & Studios Sulphur, Oklahoma
Karin Walkingstick Cherokee Nation
918.261.5819 walkingstickpottery.com Santa Fe Indian Market Booth LIN-E 729
Grandma’s Garden, 2017, hand-coiled and incised clay bowl, 12 × 15 × 15 in.
METTLE TO METAL Native Women Sculptors Reign and Pour By RoseMary Diaz
above Evelyn Fredericks (Hopi), Harmony, 2018, bronze. Image courtesy of the artist. opposite Estella Loretto (Jemez), The Peaceful Warrior's Prayer, 2004, bronze, 156 × 90 in. Image courtesy of the artist.
HE STORY OF BRONZE CASTING began more than 5,000 years ago. Like most new technologies, the alloy traveled across vast territories to inspire and sustain its own intricate systems of trade and commerce. Bronze brought significant advancements in tools and weaponry and was used in the minting of coins—anchoring it, quite literally, to the value of the currency itself. Cast bronze rings, pendants, and other objects of wearable art have been unearthed from millennia-old sites across the intersections of Asia, Africa, and Europe, suggesting it to be among the world’s first bling. Recipes for bronze have been reinvented over time, solidifying in today’s standardized formula, composed of 88 percent copper and 12 percent tin. This compound, with slight variations possible from artist to artist, is employed for cire perdue, or lost-wax casting, the most widely used method of casting bronze. Some examples of bronze statuary date to 2500 BCE, including the oldest surviving specimen, Dancing Girl, attributed to an artist from the Indus Valley city of Mohenjodaro, in modern-day Pakistan (that sculpture presently resides in the National Museum in New Delhi, and her rightful national ownership is debated). In the Americas, the earliest metalsmiths worked arsenic bronze and tin bronze in the Andes.1 However, the medium of bronze did not experience its fruitful bloom, artistically speaking, until bronze poured into Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance. Thereafter, the alloy cooled as a means for creative expression until the Industrial Revolution, when bronze works became greatly respected as a stately and enduring art form. A number of American artists certainly contributed to this mastery of metal, though few among them were women, or Native. Here, the epic tale of bronze continues with a look at some of the Indigenous women who have brought the art form closer to the center of Native America’s creative possibilities. Their stories are presented in sections that observe their individual pursuits within the shared field of endeavor in some chronological order, rather than implying a hierarchy. In their own words, these artists offer personal reflections on what led them to metal, 1. Heather Lechtman, “Issues in Andean Metallurgy,” in Pre-Columbian Metallurgy of South America. A Conference at Dumbarton Oaks, October 18th and 19th, ed. Elizabeth P. Benson (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1975), 23.
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why they stayed, and their plans for the continuing journey. GROUNDBREAKERS EVELYN FREDERICKS (HOPI): I started my life in a pretty conventional way for a Hopi kid. We were surrounded by relatives in a small village, so our world was limited, but we were given free reign. We, my sisters and I, mostly played outside in the sand, building make-believe houses and villages. Our toys were small bones called mo mo ye, or “small children” in Hopi, that were saved for us from the mutton stew we ate on occasion. What I cherish most was being close to my grandparents and being with them when they rested between farming: my so-os with her basketry, and quaah making his rattles, bows, and arrows. When I decided that making sculpture was what I wanted to do in this life, it was not a conscious choice. Creating meaningful objects is a continuation of the experience I had as a child, led by the example of my grandparents’ creativity. Most of my bronze work is cast from an image of what I first carve in stone. For me, choosing a stone to carve follows these steps: cleaning the stone; studying it for a design or idea; cutting and sculpting and teasing out the final image as it presents itself. This is the rewarding part because the final result may not be what I had envisioned, but what the stone wanted to be. I’m just the person who let its spirit free. Sometimes this process can take months. When I decide to have an image cast in bronze, I imagine its potential life in color. I love all the possible colorations, and [using] emphasis of color on specific areas of a work. I work with Petersen Creations, in Prescott, Arizona. They take the work from initial molding to patina but are always mindful to keep the original feel from beginning to final finish. Working in bronze presents the artist with more possibilities for expressing an idea. The image can be small and delicate, or monumental. Though I haven’t done monumental work, I applaud women who do. At this point in my life, my work has to be of manageable size. As a woman of a certain age, I have chosen to slow down and exhibit selectively. I think I’ve finally learned to enjoy my life and
work as I choose. I am extremely grateful for a life of making art. And, at heart, I’m still the kid making mud houses and playing with bones. E S T E L L A L O R E T TO ( J E M E Z PUEBLO): I was drawn to sculpture. It’s relaxing, but mostly I enjoy the process: creating the armature, visualizing the position of the statue, then packing on warm clay to bring it to life. It is a labor of love, as some of my pieces take over a year, sometimes two, to create. Peaceful Warrior took three years. Working in oil clay gives me a chance to take a break, rest, and start again, and gives me time to change the form. It’s very flexible and forgiving, and very sensuous to touch, so smooth and warm. Another thing I really
appreciate about working in bronze is that I can do small, limited editions. In the beginning, I felt like there was a prejudice about women working in metal, like we didn’t belong in the foundry. Bronze sculpting is not considered a traditional art form, but I remember waking up at my grandmother’s and my mother would be sculpting in water[-based] clay. It’s quite a long process, the sculpting time, the mold-making, the lost wax, the casting, the chasing, the patina. It expands you, stretches you emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially, but in the end it’s very rewarding when your masterpiece is standing there looking at you and greeting the world. The teacher who influenced me the most was Allan Houser. He talked me FALL 2018 | 43
into working in bronze. He said “There’s Michelangelo, Henry Moore, Glenna Goodacre, but there are [very few] Native American women working in bronze. I want to help you. I can teach you. I know you can do it! We can start tomorrow.” And we did. The exposure to working with [him] was very moving. With his encouragement and direction, I welcomed the opportunity to work in bronze. My inspiration is always to create beauty, something that honors nature. If I’m having a block, I go take a walk on Canyon Road or go to a Pueblo ceremony. Or pray. If I’m procrastinating, I do feng shui or cook. I hope my creative legacy will be as a pioneer: the first Native American monumental sculptor who did beautiful, serene work—peaceful yet strong—and created healing environments. My sculptures are like my children and I do get attached to them. What I give birth to in bronze will live eternally and will be around to tell my stories, our stories, long after I’m gone. My children, my daughter, my granddaughter, and the world will always have a part of what I [created] as a Native woman. above Roxanne Swentzell (Santa Clara Pueblo), All Directions Covered, bronze, edition of 25, 153/4 × 11 1/2 × 14 in. Image courtesy of the Rozanne Swentzell Tower Gallery, Santa Fe, NM. below Tammy Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo), Seeded Woman II (front and back views), bronze, 41/4 × 4 in., edition of 35. Image courtesy of King Galleries, Santa Fe, NM. opposite Kim Seyesnem Obrzut (Hopi), Morning Song, 2015, bronze, 28 × 12 × 10 in., edition of 75.
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ROXANNE SWENTZELL (SANTA CLARA PUEBLO): I started sculpting [in clay] at the age of four. It was my first language, and I used it to communicate with my mother. When I first thought of the idea of turning my clay sculptures into bronzes [almost thirty years later], I
thought it was distasteful because it was a kind of mass production. But during the renaissance of the Indian art market, I couldn’t make my work fast enough for the demand. So, after being convinced by those around me that it would help me not to have to make so many pieces in clay, I decided to create a small piece to have cast. Peter Wright, a bronze publisher, agreed to handle the production and upfront costs. I hesitantly agreed. But when that first little clay woman came back with that familiar dark-bronze patina and surprisingly soft glow, I was excited. I held her and felt the weight and the soft finish, turning her around and around in awe of how beautiful she was. I thought bronzing her would cheapen her, but it actually added something the clay lost once hand-polishing it made it “fragile.” The bronze had a touchable quality that was permanent: I loved it! As I learned more about the process and the work and skill it takes to even get a [finished] bronze, I was humbled. It wasn’t mass production at all. Each piece, even of the same image, is handled individually, and each one is different because it has its own wax, its own casting and chasing [process], and its own grinding. And, after welding the individual pieces together, each is individually patinaed. Mike Massie has done all my finishing work for the last 25 years. Bronze opened up a new world of possibilities for me. I could work as big as I wanted to and not worry about firing as [we] could make molds of unfired clay pieces. Brad [Lancaster] could make molds of anything and not break the originals. There’s something wonderful about the large, outdoor pieces. I’ve watched my grandchildren play on them, birds take baths in them, and snow pile high on them, and that is very satisfying. They’re an all-season, all-ages, all-species kind of art. Every artist who ventures into bronze has their own reasons for opening that door. As Native women artists, it’s been less available as a possibility only because our identities as “professional anything” are still breaking through the barriers of the human psyche, as far as what women can do. Lucky for me, I was one of those naïve little girls who thought I could do anything, so I did. Later, I realized I was an oddity. I felt the stab of gender inequality as I watched male artists receive commissions that I knew I could do, possibly better, but they got because the mainstream mindset still saw men as more capable than women. Things are changing, though, and [now] the men at the hardware stores don’t always assume I’m running an errand for my husband. The Native woman’s voice is one of survival, hardship, and endurance. It speaks of love and loss, of children and grandchildren, of relationships of every kind. Our work speaks of her-story, not his-story, of our joys, sorrows, and journeys. I’m not young any more, but in this time that I’ve had, I’ve never seen anyone as strong as a Native woman. If we survive these times to look back on this part of the human journey, I think we will see the voice of the Native woman rising up to become one of the wisest and most needed. Some of that voice will stand timeless in bronze. I hope to be part of this.
THE VISIONARIES TAMMY GARCIA (SANTA CLARA PUEBLO): I have been working in bronze for almost 19 years. I was first attracted to it because of its shine and its strength, and I’m drawn to the iridescent gold and the warm tones of ferric. The colors used for the patinas can be layered and combined, making the choices virtually endless. The choices available definitely keep me interested. My sister [Autumn Borts-Medlock] and I learned to make coil-built pottery as young girls; it has been a tradition in our family for hundreds of years. We made animal figurines and small bowls alongside our mom. She showed us how. And it was inspiring to see our grandmother [Mary Cain] fire her pottery. We had a very special kind of education—the kind you have to be born into. Working with an oil-based clay offers the luxury of time when sculpting because it never dries. And it adheres to almost any surface, so form and size don’t matter. It’s different compared FALL 2018 | 45
in the arms of a new mother; the moment a young woman realizes she looks forward to motherhood; the skilled potter who looks to sell her wares; the grace of an elderly matriarch. The technical term for my work is “smooth skin.” I describe it as organic in form, strong on line, and symbolic in nature. There’s maybe even a softness about it. I don’t want my work to be perfect, like it was machine made. I believe there is innate beauty in things made by hand— hands that allow the spirit to flow through. There have been many lessons in realizing this. It sounds like an easy task, but it’s taken a lot of training within myself to acknowledge and respect this part of my work. In many ways, it knows more than I do.
to the water-based clay that I use for making coil-built, one-ofa-kind ceramics. Working with both types of clays, I have more choices and fewer limits. Historic Pueblo pottery remains a source of inspiration, while my passion for metals continues. KIM OBRZUT (HOPI): My career in bronze began when I started learning how to cast in the ’80s, at Northern Arizona University (NAU). I enrolled late, after having my second child, and sculpture was the only class still open. I soaked up any kind of knowledge or experience I could on the lost-wax process, sensing one day [bronze] would become my material of choice. At the time, I was sculpting in stoneware clay, using the traditional scrape-and-smooth coil method [for building], and firing my small pieces in a kiln. Bronze casting required mastering a new method, working with a different kind of clay. It can sometimes be close to a year of sculpting and casting before a clay piece is transformed into a bronze, a result well worth waiting for. Predicting what something will be like in metal is a long way from my grandfather carving katsina. Unlike making a katsina, I can exaggerate or minimize particles of my piece with the intent of directing the eye to something specific. I can simplify. I can defy space. In the old days, I did worry about blocks, but now I understand them as stopping points and allow the process to work for me, not against me. Just like there are four seasons, there are times to work, times to study and research, times to rest, and times to greet the public with your results. Every artist [creates] a story, a moment in time they would like the audience to ponder. With sculpture, it’s tactile, and, for me, the little things in everyday life are worth looking at: a child 46 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM
PAHPONEE (KICKAPOO-POTAWATOMI): I was standing in my booth at Santa Fe Indian Market in 2002, when the owner of a foundry approached me and asked me if I had considered creating any of my original pottery designs in bronze. I like the fact that bronze has historic longevity, so I decided to try it. I have created art my entire life. I always knew it was one of my strengths, but it was when I saw the two white buffalo that I began to get clear and precise ideas for pottery and bronze. Most of my ideas, which I call assignments, come from the natural world. Maybe it’s because I love nature and have purposefully created my lifestyle to spend as much time as possible in it. Personally, I like the use of bright colors combined with the polished metal. I like to arrange the colors to supplement the storytelling. My ideas also come from personal life experiences, so I try to stay very open and neutral and wait for the assignments to come. One element that is absolutely necessary for me to create art is being in harmony with myself, which feels like peacefulness, happiness. Through failure I’ve learned that haste makes waste, and not every art form has a long life. That I followed my heart, my own inspiration and personal vision without regard to others’ expectations, that is what I hope my creative legacy will be.
THE STORYTELLERS CAROLINE CARPIO (ISLETA PUEBLO): I’ve worked with clay for more than 36 years. Two decades ago I started casting my clay work in bronze. Some of my sculptures can be time consuming to create, and special pieces are few and far between. Those are usually the pieces that end up being bronzed, which, though they are limited editions, allows more than one person to own and enjoy [the sculpture]. Multiple castings can retain a delicate design, and still be durable. My artwork is a balance of honoring my Pueblo culture and being mindful in giving it a contemporary voice. My art reflects the hardships, journeys, and stories that we have encountered, both independently and collectively, as members of the Native community. Creativeness is within everyone. As Native people, we’ve always had to be creative and resourceful to adapt to life. I’ve had this saying from early on: “I have a great idea!” And it still carries me to this day. The first time I entered a pot-shaped bronze into a
competition, they didn’t know what category to put it in. It wasn’t a clay pot, so they put it in the sculpture category. These days, more Native women artists are working in bronze. That will add to the larger narrative, that as Native women we challenged ourselves and made a mark. I hope the legacy I leave behind through my art will be a valuable representation of who we are as Native people in this time period. I also want my legacy to reflect my contemporary creativeness, and that I honored my Pueblo culture in a respectful way. I’m honored because future generations can say “one of our people made that.” HOLLY WILSON (DELAWARE NATION–CHEROKEE): Art has always been the only thing I’ve wanted to do. I used to draw with my dad when I was young. I would create visual representations of stories in my mind. I still do that. My original medium was clay, but I found bronze to be a much sturdier material. It allows me versatility and flexibility to manipulate my figures in a way I couldn’t with clay. This is especially important because many of them are very small. Bronze is also extremely enduring. I like the idea of it lasting essentially forever. I work directly in wax and pour my own bronze. I don’t use molds to make editions; each is a one-of-a-kind piece. Bronze is malleable but also hard. Even when it’s finished, you can still make changes. There are so many materials that have limitations to what you can do after a certain point. If I use a patina I don’t like, I can just sandblast it off. If a leg doesn’t look right, I can manipulate or replace it without much difficulty. Sometimes what you want isn’t what you get, but I don’t know if I believe in failure. One work, Frayed, was a total accident. I overheated the metal and the result destroyed the original, but I love how she turned out. A lot of people like to say [my work] is “whimsical,” but I actually hate that term. Whimsy nullifies anything I’m trying to say through my work. It tells the viewer that my work is about sentiment and not substance: I don’t believe that. Every work I create is about a subject or situation we as a people are facing on a daily basis. With We Need a Hero, I’m thinking about the responsibility being forced upon our children, where they face the fear of school shootings and are taking up the charge to enact real change in gun laws. So, if you ask me what sort of words I want my work to be described as, it would be “universal,” “narrative,” and “emotional.” I want to remind people that we are more alike than different. My biggest creative inspiration is watching my children. I like working around them, hearing them, and being close to what they’re doing. My work completely changed when I had my kids, and their influence continues to this day. My work is inherently embedded with my Native identity and past, but that’s because it’s a reflection of myself. I think successful Native art acknowledges the past but is focused on the present and the future. Native art can be whatever it needs to be, and Native artists should not feel restricted by mediums, subjects, or people’s preconceived ideas of what Native art should look like. That’s what I hope my work gives to the larger narrative of Native art.
above Caroline L. Carpio (Isleta Pueblo), Keeper of Hope, 2004, bronze, cupric nitrate, titanium dioxide patina with a hot wax finish, 23 × 10 × 7 in. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Norman Johnson. opposite Pahponee (KickapooPotawatomi), Wawatso, bronze, edition of 25. Image courtesy of the artist.
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get damaged so easily in moving them from exhibit to exhibit, no matter how careful I was. It was stressful working in clay. I’m inspired by the songs and stories of my people. So, I would say my work is thought provoking and grounded in bringing animals into a place of importance. It is my hope that when someone sees my work, they will be open to another way to treat and live with animals, and realize they are souls just like us. Socially, the world sees bronze in a way that I have come to understand as the artist having arrived at a place of coming into [their own]. Regular people somehow understand the importance of the material, and there is not a lot an artist must do to explain the importance of a work in bronze. I wish all art forms carried the same respect. I often find with other art forms there is a huge learning curve. I must work at explaining the value of a drawing, a fine art print, or a watercolor … but bronze has a history that comes with it that people somehow understand. Bronze is [an] old material but has brought a new respect for my animals that I was not given when working in clay. It’s nice to see more [Native women] working in metal. I see us making paths for others to follow. It’s exciting to look back at the past 20 years and see how each of us have grown as artists. We are telling stories about our history and our people and that is valued by many. I feel honored to work in this medium because of the history it carries.
above Holly Wilson (DelawareCherokee), I’m Still Here, bronze, patina, flex cord, 29 × 27 × 24 in. Image courtesy of the artist. opposite, top left Melanie Yazzie (Diné), Stormy and Highway Hit the Road to Denver, 2014, brzone, 15 × 10 × 16 in., edition of 15. Image courtesy of Glenn Green Galleries, Santa Fe, NM. opp osite, top right Autumn B o r t s - M e d l o c k ( S a n t a C l a ra Pueblo), Chaco Parrot, bronze, 12 × 9½ in. Image courtesy of Desert Moon, Taos/Santa Fe, NM. opposite, bottom right Rochelle Medlock (Santa Clara Pueblo), Wee Dogs series, bronze,
MELANIE YAZZIE (DINÉ): For most of my undergraduate and graduate years, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I worked in hand-building ceramics. When I formed the relationship with Glenn Green Galleries, I was able to make the leap into [sculpting]. Their focus is sculpture, so their support and encouragement meant that I could give myself permission to make the journey into bronze. It was a good path. Working with molds and with waxes really got me excited about pushing my work in ways that I never expected. The ceramic works were so fragile and would
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AU T U M N B O RT S - M E D L O C K (SANTA CLARA PUEBLO): When I started working in bronze about five years ago, it was out of my desire to have one of my clay vessels cast. The transformation from clay to metal was meant to be: bronze is nearly as ancient an art and utilitarian form as pottery is, and they almost seem to [have] evolved hand in hand. I grew up in a family that has been working with clay for generations, and I’ve been making pottery since I was a child. I will continue to nurture my relationship with the clay, but as an artist I envisioned myself working in bronze. It has allowed me to show another side of my creativity, and I’m able to experiment with a much broader color palette. The colored patinas enhance the design on the metal’s surface
and give character to the shape. A blowtorch is used to heat the metal, and mineral oxides are applied with paint brushes. My husband [Jeremy Medlock], who is also a bronze sculptor, does that part of the process for me. He also does the patina work for our daughter, Rochelle, who’s 13 and has been sculpting for almost six years. Another great element to working in bronze is having the capability to cast an edition of the original and being able to invest in the metal more than once. With the editions, I make every piece unique by giving them variations in the patinas. Branching out into this medium has inspired three-dimensional, free-form sculpting, and experimentation with some different clays. With my native clay, I use a hand-coiling approach to a sculptural form; with the alternative clays, it’s sculpting by forming in a solid manner, pushing the clay in a different way. My sister [Tammy Garcia] has been an inspiration to me. She started her journey into bronze much earlier in her career. I think of her as a trailblazer in this medium. She has [helped lead] the way for Native artists venturing into nontraditional forms and mediums. ROCHELLE MEDLOCK (SANTA CLARA PUEBLO): I’ve been doing bronze work since I was eight years old. I was inspired to become an artist by my mom [Autumn Borts-Medlock] and my grandmother [Linda Cain], because when they were children they both made art. Now it’s just something I love to do. I describe my work as small, simple, cute … with personality. Most of my creative ideas come to me at random: I don’t ever really prepare to be creative, it just sort of happens. As I’m getting older and learning more, my work is getting bigger and more complex, with more detail and more refined shapes. I’d like to collaborate with my mom on a big [piece] with cartoony designs. I think that would be so cool.
THESE WOMEN have taken bronze sculpture and made it their own. The enduring nature of bronze has allowed many of these artists to enter the arena of public art and share their visions with audiences who might never enter a gallery or museum. “Using our designs with bronze as a canvas, we Native women have taken this sculptural medium to a whole new level,” says Autumn Borts-Medlock. “We take our visions, apply them onto sculptural surfaces, and [document] them in bronze. Our work tells the story of our cultural life, both past and present, in a new way and on a grander scale. It demonstrates our creative strength and perseverance as artists.” FALL 2018 | 49
Revisiting and Reenvisioning
MICA CUTOUTS One of ancient America’s best recognized but least understood art forms is reimagined—and reborn.
By America Meredith
ICA IS A GHOSTLY, OTHERWORLDLY MATERIAL. In sheets, mica is translucent and reflective. Ground into powder, as it is in micaceous pottery, it glitters. Mica has been held sacred by Indigenous peoples of this continent for thousands of years, and artists from the Hopewell tradition of the Eastern Woodlands carved sheet mica into extraordinary cutouts of raptor claws, serpents, human hands, and other graceful shapes two thousand years ago. Precious little is known about this art
form, but one Cayuga artist has devoted herself to bringing it back to life. “Common mica, also known as muscovite (KAl3Si3O10(OH)1.8F0.2), is a soft, transparent/translucent phyllosilicate mineral,” explains Travis Day, a chemistry teacher and art collector. “The name muscovite derives from its usage as an alternative to glass window panes in medieval Russia. The term phyllosilicate comes from the Greek word phyllon, meaning leaf and refers to the ability of mica to form sheets that can be readily cleaved apart, like phyllo dough.”
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“On a molecular level,” Day explains, “mica arranges itself into layers of atoms that have strong covalent bonds in the plane and weak intermolecular attractions between the planes. It is these weak attractive forces that allows one to easily cleave the planes apart. Although mica is a soft mineral, it does have a high melting point due to its strong intraplanar bonding. As such mica has also found usage as a fireproofing agent and insulation.” Today this alluring material, also called isinglass, is part of our everyday life. It is used in makeup, paints, insulation, and even humble drywall joint compound. Pure powdered mica, mica flakes, and sheet mica are available as art supplies. The translucent mineral can be colorless, or naturally occurring yellows, greens, reds, or browns.
HOPEWELLIAN MICA BEGINNING AROUND 200 BCE, new cultural expressions and trade networks emerged throughout the Eastern Woodlands in what archaeologists call the Hopewell exchange network. Centered along the Ohio, Scioto, and Miami Rivers of southern Ohio, the Hopewell exchange spread from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and included a multitude of tribes, speaking diverse
languages, that adopted shared cultural expressions. The largest site within this network is the Hopewell Mound Group, a 130-acre earthwork complex with 29 mounds enclosed by a two-mile-long earthen wall near the Scioto River. European-Americans began excavating the site in the 1840s and many of the artifacts they disinterred then are now in the British Museum. Artifacts from an 1891–92 excavation ended up in Chicago’s Field Museum, while items from the 1922–25 excavation are in the collections of the Ohio Historical Society. While the Hopewell Mound site remained an important ceremonial center for centuries, it was not a place of widespread, long-term residence. Instead people of this region lived in hamlets of wattle-and-daub cottages; they hunted, fished, gathered wild foods, and farmed indigenous crops such as squash, sunflowers, and maygrass seeds. Some of the most extraordinary works in mica came from the Hopewell Mounds. Mica workshops were found in the nearby Seip Earthworks, where mica scraps, flint knives, and drills were all recovered. Distant sites within the sphere of Hopewell ideological interaction also reveal mica production. The Abbott Farm site in Trenton, New Jersey, yielded more than ten gallons of mica, from raw sheets and perforated sheets to finished artworks. Thicker slabs of mica were formed into mirrors, while thin sheets were carved into pendants. Archaeologists believe the site may have been a major hub for the processing and distribution of mica. Through geochemical analysis, a team of archaeologists traced the origins of mica at Abbott Farm, almost all colorless or pale brown, to mica deposits in eastern Pennsylvania.1 Mica found in the Hopewell Mound Group has also been traced back to North Carolina. Being lightweight and 1. Matthew T. Boulanger, Gregory D. Lattanzi, Cody C. Roush, and Michael D. Glascock, “Geochemical Analysis of Mica Source Specimens and Artifacts from the Abbott Farm National Historic Landmark (28ME1),” American Antiquity 82, no. 2 (April 2017): 374–96.
above, top Sheets of muscovite mica. Photo: Lester Harragarra (Otoe-Missouria-Kiowa). above, bottom Mica flakes. Photo: Lester Harragarra (Otoe-Missouria-Kiowa). opposite Unknown Hopewell artist, Serpent Effigy, 200 BCE–500 CE, sheet mica, pigment, pearl, Turner Group, Mound 4, Little Miami Valley, Ohio, collection of the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Photo: Daderot.
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Some sheets were cut into simple geometric shapes, such as rectangles or crescents, while others were cut into representational shapes, such as silhouettes of atlatls or blades. More elaborate cutouts feature headless human torsos (some missing arms and feet). One cutout is a profile of a seemingly smiling human face with an elongated nose and a unique wavy hair pattern. A serpent effigy cutout, found in the 1890s at the Turner Group, has a pearl for an eye. Several mica cutouts feature bird’s claws, widely believed to be raptor’s talons. One of the most iconic artworks of the ancient Eastern Woodlands is the Hand Effigy from Mound 25, the largest of the Hopewell Mounds. More than eleven inches long, the elegant silhouette of a human hand is larger than life. With an intimate knowledge of the material, the artist who carved this masterpiece used the natural variations and markings of the mica to add dimensionality to the hand’s elongated fingers and bent thumb. Two small holes pierce the lower palm, suggesting that the hand may have hung with the fingers below. How this work was displayed remains unknown, but it must have once awed its intended audience with its beauty and power.
MICA CUTOUTS REIMAGINED
above Unknown Hopewell artist, Hand Effigy, ca. 200 BCE–500 CE, sheet mica, 112/5 × 71/3 in., Hopewell site, Mound 25, Ross County, Ohio, collection of the Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, OH, A283/294. Photo: Werner Forman, Heritage Image Partnership Ltd./Alamy. opposite, top Tammy Rahr (Cayuga), Circular Earrings, 2017, mica, velvet, glass beads. Photo: Lester Harragarra (OtoeMissouria-Kiowa). opposite, middle Tammy Rahr (Cayuga), left to right Leaf 1, Council Fire, Fiddlehead I, Leaf II, 2018, mica, beaver felt, 11° Charlotte cut beads. Image courtesy of the artist. opposite, bottom Tammy Rahr (Cayuga), Diamond-Shaped Earrings, 2017, mica, velvet, glass beads. Photo: Lester Harragarra (Otoe-Missouria-Kiowa).
easily transported, mica was a treasured exotic material. While raw mica sheets are found in staggering quantities in different archaeological sites, finished mica cutouts are far rarer and more precious. Precisely what the images symbolized and how they were used in Hopewell societies remains unknown. The thicker mirrors may have been used for divination, perhaps in a similar manner to the obsidian mirrors in Mesoamerica. Because so many mica cutouts have multiple holes pierced in them, they may have been sewn onto clothing. These would reflect light off fires in the evening.
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TAMMY RAHR (CAYUGA) first encountered mica years ago on a trip to Cahokia Mounds with her son. At the Cahokia Mounds Museum, “I actually saw the pieces through glass that I had only ever seen in photographs. I was so moved,” she recounts. Later, she was reintroduced to mica cutouts in her Native art history class at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Rahr beads picture frames with Haudenosaunee raised-style beadwork and uses mica to cover the photographs. She first came across some sheets of mica, while browsing at Mama’s Minerals in Santa Fe. “I brought it home and cut some out,” Rahr recalls. “Then I realized that you can split it. It has layer upon
layer upon layer, so you can have whatever thickness you want. So I was able to get one sheet of mica, maybe enough for two frames, or even three. I have a lot of photos of my family that are black and white, and when you put the mica sheet over it, it ages the photo.” The mica adds color and texture to the image. Years later, she wondered if she could carve out her mica sheets. “I had some time, so I pulled some mica out one day and started working with it. Then I did a little bit of research about precautions that I need to take when I’m carving it. I need to wear a respirator. I need to work outside if I can.” Longterm exposure to silica dust can cause silicosis or pneumoconiosis, both lung diseases, and it has been linked to cancer, so a respirator with the appropriate filters helps protect one’s lungs from dust. Rahr’s first experiments were to carve replicas of the Hopewellian cutouts, then she began carving her own smaller designs. “Mica is really flexible. You can actually bend a piece,” she says. “It has its own little nuances. Being a natural material, it has its own give and take, and it doesn’t take a lot to destroy a sheet of mica. When I did the parrot, I broke a piece, so I had to start all over, because it shows. It shows cracks.” After more than one shattered sheet of mica, Rahr began to familiarize herself with its properties. She cut matching designs that she mounted on beaver felt remnants, obtained from a hat maker, and edged these with beadwork to create a completely new style of mica jewelry. These she shows at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts store. When asked what prompted her to work with mica, Rahr responds, “Because it’s beautiful material. The velvet was nice, it made the mica really pop, but now I’m really jazzed after placing them on the beaver felt. They’re just so organic; both of the materials very precious.” Fragile and beautiful, mica changes with the light. This ancient, sacred material lives today in new forms of adornment—like a sliver of moonlight that you can clasp in your hand. FALL 2018 | 53
Chessney Sevier Jackie Sevier
Santa Fe Indian Market Jackie’s booth #715 LIN-W
Chessney’s booth #237 PAL-S August 18 & 29, 2018
Pheasant Rump Nakota Jeweler and Sculptor
SANTA FE INDIAN MARKET SANTA FE, NM, AUGUST 18 & 19 BOOTH 219 PAL-S
NORTHERN PLAINS INDIAN ART MARKET SIOUX FALLS, SD, SEPTEMBER 29 & 30
CHEROKEE ART MARKET TULSA, OK, OCTOBER 13 & 14
Mom’s Satchel, 2017, sterling silver, Argentium silver, peridot, yellow quartz, deer antler, buckskin lining, 18 × 8 × 6 in.
MELISSA MELERO-Moose Great Basin Native Artist SWAIA Indian Market BootH #765-LIN W
w w w. m e l i s s a m e l e ro. c o m Willow and Basket, 2018, mixed media with willow on canvas, 40” × 30”
HAIDA CARVER AND INTERDISCIPLINARY ARTIST
GWAAI EDENSHAW By America Meredith
HILE TODAY’S ART WORLD encourages artists to delve into different media, Gwaai Edenshaw is particularly fearless in his exploration of completely different directions in art making. Whether performing, visual, or media arts, Gwaai builds from a foundation in his community, culture, and Xaad Kil, the Haida language. His artistic practice was propelled by his family of artists, including Guujaaw, who encouraged his carving, and his mother Jennie Nelson, who fostered his love of theater. Often in collaboration, particularly with his brother Jaalen Edenshaw, Gwaai’s work ranges from the sublime to the silly, such as the stop-motion animated series, Haida Raid, in which wooden carvings are brought to life to spread political messages through rap music. An Eagle from the Ts’aahl clan, Gwaai is based in Vancouver. He learned carving from his father and Bill Reid (Haida, 1920–1998). He helped found the Q’altsi’da Kaa Players, a Haida-language theater troupe. Gwaai creates jewelry in silver, copper, and gold. He delved into illustration working with Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Haida) on his graphic novel, The Tale of Two Shamans. He paints, he draws. He sculpts in everything from wood to bone to paper. Gwaai is wrapping up a Haidalanguage, feature-length film, Sgaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife), which he codirected with Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot’in). The film is scheduled to be released this fall. Before cloistering himself in his jewelry studio to get ready for Santa Fe Indian Market, Gwaai took time to discuss his diverse artistic pursuits. AM: Which came first? The woodcarving or the theater?
GE: Theater came first. Our mom always put on little plays, even when we were really little kids. They put scrollwork on the bottom of the front porch, which faced the docks and the water, to make it look like a stage, and people sat on the driftwood and watched us put on little plays when we were kids. You had a public audience when you were little? Yeah, it’d just be the neighborhood. And we’d do strange little plays. I’m feeding the next generation. My brother’s daughter is doing that, too, and pulling in even bigger crowds than we ever did. That’s awesome! How did you get into carving and jewelry?
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They’re slightly separate things. My dad is a carver, so he would have poles going. When I was 16, I got yanked out of school by Bill Reid and taken down to Vancouver to apprentice with him. That kicked me off on applied carving, jewelry, and generally designing. I spent years just messing around, carving avocado stones, toothpicks, and things like that. My dad said I was never going to make any money carving twigs and toothpicks and that I should go to jewelry school. So I got formal training in jewelry at the Vancouver Community College. I was super dedicated, took three years to finish the two-year program [laughs].
Yes, I know how that goes. Could you discuss your work with the Q’altsi’da Kaa Players? That’s the acting crew and storytelling society. It was just me and my brother, Jaalen, when we started in about 2007. Sounding Gambling Sticks was a play that we worked on that was all in the Haida language. That was our out-of-the-gates project, but our goal for Q’altsi’da Kaa was to promote the Haida language and to create ways for people to hear the language in the community. Eventually it evolved into the stop-motion animations because it’s hard to get 25 Haidas together. And you want people to hear Haida, so we would make the stop-motion animations, so anytime a kid wanted to watch animation, it could be in Haida.
The other goal was to try and make sure that we maintain integrity around our stories, our culture, the oral society. We have a responsibility to the true inner telling of the stories we tell. Have you done other stop-motion animation besides the Haida Raid series? We have the Haida Raid series, some basketball games, Yaanii K’uuka and Golden Spruce story, and the octopus story. So a few old Haida stories.
above Dogfish Mother Pendant, 2009, 22k gold, abalone shell, 5 × 11/4 in., edition 2/9. Photo: David Koppe. Image courtesy of the artist. opposite Gwaai Edenshaw carving a pole. Image courtesy of the artist.
Were you were able to use your own carving, or your brother’s carvings, to do the stop-motion animation? They are mostly figures I used to carve in avocado stones. When we first started FALL 2018 | 57
above Ken Raj Leslie, director, Haidawood production, video stills of Haida Raid 2: A Message to Stephen Harper, 2012, stop-motion animation. opposite Stoneribs Pole, 2015, bronze, 105 × 12 × 7 in., edition of 7. Photo: David Koppe. Image courtesy of the artist.
doing animation, we had buckets of my old carvings. At first we just glued them to Bionicles [Lego construction toys]. Some of the carvings are by Jaalen, but I think Leo Gagnon also gave us some. Whenever these things happen, a lot of people come together. Ken Leslie is one of the main drivers and supporters of the project. Did you grow up speaking Haida? No. We have very few speakers, and we just lost more this year. The last count I heard was 20 in Haida Gwaii. There are more in Alaska. I studied Haida language in school. All I have is a pretty extensive vocabulary. I can point at a lot of things and name them. Working on Edge of the Knife was the best that I’ve ever gotten in Haida. When we worked on that script and the
translations, I got to where I could tell there was a problem with the translation. When we first wrote the script, we were super worried we were making an English conversational script, and we would wind up in hot water in the translations. An exclamation, “Oh boy!” would be written as “a boy” in the literal sense. So we rewrote a script into the simplest terms and brought it back to the [translator] to expand. He would say, “Oh yeah, here’s how you say it, but the Haida way of saying this would be that.” And it would be a phrase or parable. The final script that we ended up with, even when we reverse-translated it back into English, would have been a beautiful English script as well. Very poetic. Why is it so important to use the Haida language?
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It’s a big part of our identity. Or for me, it’s a bit of a hole in my identity. I understand and I learn. When I work in the language, I learn things about us—a sort of coded philosophy built into the language. If I could speak Haida tomorrow, I would go into some of the old stories that were recorded in the Haida language and translated in the early 1900s, but I believe there’s a lot more beneath the surface. Any translation we get is filtered through the linguists who worked on them at the time. Or in museums, there’d be little scrolled notes with some Haida word the collector might have received. Could you talk about your film Edge of the Knife and how it is different than live theater and animation? The main difference is the scale of time. Leonie, Graham, Jaalen, and I started
writing it three years ago or more. It’s been a long haul, longer even than a pole. It’s closer to carving a pole than it is to theater or animation projects. Things I thought would be easy, like costumes—I figured I had a pretty good handle on what I might want for costumes, but we, on the recommendation of our props guy, hired somebody from within the industry to help design and manage our costumes and breakdown and stuff. Maintaining continuity between shots is so complicated, and having enough pieces and making sure that if we don’t have duplicates that we aren’t wrecking it one scene and then needing it then for the next scene we shoot. There are so many moving parts. Would you care to discuss some of the poles that you have carved? Like for instance, the Stoneribs pole? Stoneribs was a passion piece for me. In the end it took me seven years to finish—just managing to do three days here, one day there. The story itself is associated with the Haida Gwaii Rediscovery Program, which started the year I was born, and my parents are involved with it. It’s a youth camp out on the West Coast that gives young people a sense of connecting to the land and disconnecting from accouterments of modernity. Stoneribs is a particularly parabled figure. He’s the son of Djila’qons, the matriarch of the Eagle clans on her island. In each camp session, one of the participants is honored as Stoneribs. That name is used more than any other of our names and has been elevated within our society. It represents this story of personal change and growth for young people and also reflects on the program itself. After I took so long to carve it, I decided to mold it and make it in bronze. Had you worked in bronze before? No. I do have my own foundry but for a smaller scale—just for little gold things. The biggest thing that I’ve made was up to a pound of material. My edition for the pole is seven. So I’ve done two big bronze pieces, about 300 pounds each.
I was surprised to see you on the list of artists at Indian Market. What prompted you to show there? I’ve always been really fascinated with Indian Market. Almost 20 years ago, I went down to Santa Fe with my dad and Jimmy Hart, Christian White, John Brent Bennett—maybe Reg Davidson? Anyway, a group of us went down and toured through the Southwest, meeting a who’s who of artists: Myron Panteah, Jesse Monongye, Lee Yazzie, and a whole bunch of others. We had the greatest time. John Brent and I spent all night with Myron and them in their studio. We were working on jewelry through the night and laughing. They all said, “Go to Indian Market.” So Indian Market has been on my radar for a long time. That trip manifested itself in a show that joined Southwest and Northwest Coast artists, Totems to Turquoise. It showed in New York and at the Vancouver Museum. More recently, I’ve been to Santa Fe a few times and really loved the town. I find it to be such a beautiful and open place. It’s a little warm for my blood. I’m doing a collective [residency] there from August 6 to 17. So I figured it would be silly for me not to apply to Indian Market since I was going to be there anyway. What’s the name of your residency? It’s called Testify, and the seed of the idea was to bring artists and lawyers together to create collaborative works. It has been quite satisfying but also challenging, because my partner [Dene lawyer] Caleb Behn and I are working on [Laws In Our Blood]—if you’ve ever seen a documentary called Fractured Land, it’s about him and his wife. The piece that we made doesn’t live in the aesthetic world I tend to occupy. I had a lot of anxiety about expectations for the piece. Our idea was to meld our lifebloods. I took saltwater from Haida Gwaii, and Caleb literally drew blood from himself. He carved into his body and collected the blood. We mixed that into a mordant. We stuck a piece of copper that had been circuit-printed and electrically etched out the words of one of the charter FALL 2018 | 59
above, left Unknown Haida artist, The Great Box, made before 1877, bentwood box, collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum 1884.57.1. Photo: Robert Rappoport. Image courtesy of Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. above, right Gwaai Edenshaw and Jaalen Edenshaw (both Haida), child of The Great Box, 2014, cedar, pigment. Image courtesy of Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. opposite, left Silver Bracelet, sterling silver, 61/2 × 11/2 in. Photo: Scott Edwards. Image courtesy of Shiprock Santa Fe, NM. opposite, right Silver Pendant, sterling silver, 15/8 in. Photo: Scott Edwards. Image courtesy of Shiprock Santa Fe, NM.
bills from Canadian law that is often used with regard to Indigenous people. So we removed those words from the copper, essentially, and suspended them into this solution. From there, we are processing that solution into an ink, which we are gifting to the Indigenous Bar Association so that they can take those words and reform them into their own will, and use the ink as a tool or a weapon of their resistance.
handle them with bare hands so that we could really get a sense of those pieces. We were there for weeks, so we had all the time we wanted with these pieces. They were getting something out of it, too, because they were a fly on the wall as we discussed these pieces.
Around 25 Haidas went to England. About eight or nine years ago, five years before we carved that box, we were in Oxford for the first time. We had Haida curators, artists, elders, and language experts.
The richness of having such a diverse group allowed us to crack a few mysteries right in the moment. In one such case, there was a strange figure and it had a scrawled, strange orthography, and it was some geese that had been mischaracterized as a whale. But when you don’t have any context, people have the tendency to say, “Oh yeah. That’s the eagle with straight beak and the raven with curved beak,” but it was a specific kind of bird, I think, a murrelet. It was a bird that nobody would have been able to identify if it hadn’t been for that little scribbling.
The Pitt Rivers Museum received us in a way that we hadn’t ever been received by a museum before. We weren’t in a dingy, dark room, forced to wear gloves, with a couple curators hovering over us to make sure we don’t stuff a spoon into our back pocket or something. We were in well-lit rooms. They gave us fair warning that the pieces might have poison on them, but, after warning us, they allowed us to
The Great Box was made by a master artist who fully understood the craft. It had a sense of playfulness—the kind of ease you might expect from somebody who can make something like this before breakfast. When [Jaalen and I] first looked at it, we were just taken away in this wash of awe. And as we looked at it more and more, we started to notice little things. The more we looked, the more we found.
I am curious about The Great Box: Learning from the Ancestors project in Oxford. How did it feel to engage with this 19th-century Haida work? Why was it important to bring this work to Haida Gwaii?
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A few things we could plainly understand, but then other things we were a little puzzled by. Strange decisions, but nothing that we would call a mistake when the artist was clearly light years ahead of us. So we told Laura Peers [the museum director] the only way we could understand the box would be to follow in the footsteps of the artist and try and recreate the box. We stayed in contact for about five years, then Laura wrote and told us that people were starting to get excited in Oxford about us doing this re-creation. So it happened. Out of this trip, we decided that we would do a collaboration, and we wound up doing the 43-foot totem pole for the train station in Jasper, Alberta. We realized after we got the measurements for the box we were going to make the replica of—we were looking for a piece of wood to bend and couldn’t find a piece of wood big enough and clean enough. And lo and behold, we found one of the planks left over that we’d taken off the back of the pole that got sent to Jasper, and we wound up using that to make this box. So the first project that we did as a result of having gone to Oxford in the first place led to the piece of wood that we wound up using when we returned. It took us three months to carve the box, and every day we had major epiphanies.
It led to other projects and other artistic pursuits, but also one of the things that we started working on while we were over there was looking into the language that we use for Haida art. A lot of anthropologists and linguists were around in what is the tail end of the classical period for Haida art. It was quite a time of production and trade. There were all kinds of artists, including the artist that did The Great Box. Clearly it’s a sophisticated art form, and they would have had ways of talking to each other about it and what the rules are. Yet almost nothing exists of that. We were able to dig up a few things in our research, but there’s really no language. The language of Northwest Coast Art world today was invented by Bill Holm, who literally wrote the book on formline. They’re very good words, and they’ve served us well, right? The art has continued to grow and resurface, and people have built on each other’s works. But it’s all using this outside terminology, so we started to research and find what may exist of Haida terminology … to create Haida terminology that works within the philosophy but also carries fundamental truths about what the art is doing.
Like a word like formline. That’s a pretty basic and fundamental word that does a good job of describing what it describes. But there are other aspects that don’t do as good a job, like calling the red formline “secondary” does it a disservice, because that part of the design does quite a bit of the storytelling inside of the design. So we worked on correcting some of those things, but more in particular just seeking to have solid Haida words. We want words that are concise, not too long that nobody would ever use them. But fundamentally true, too. So it seems like this will be an evolving process that will grow over time. Yes, I fully expect that as we put it out into the world, people might disagree or have better ideas, and we’d hope the conversation can grow from that. Absolutely. Looking at your jewelry compared to your woodcarving, it does seem like it’s very subtle. Especially the silver work compared to the gold work. Why do you make it so understated?
That is my Regalia line of jewelry. What I’m playing at there is sort of an aesthetic that I really love—the remnants of things that are in museums, or totem poles and buildings that have weathered over time. I find that to be a beautiful aesthetic. I have all kinds of aspirations of where else I’d like to go with this and grow the idea, but that’s the bare bones of it. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I know your schedule must be insane. We finished our picture last week. I’m gearing up, for the first time in two years, to do a big push in jewelry production for Santa Fe. I’m just happy to show my face and get to look around at what everybody’s up to. When will your film show in theaters? Are you planning to do the festival circuit? Yes, we’re going to do the festival circuit. We’re going to have a preview on Haida Gwaii so that our actors and the elders that have been a big part of this production can be the first ones to see it, too. That will be in September.
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MAVASTA HONYOUTI By Stacy Pratt, PhD
N MAVASTA HONYOUTI’S WORK, katsinam bump fists with superheroes. The droids you’re looking for are coming up the road to Walpi. Women are braiding hair and cooking and standing in a power pose on a skateboard. Men are singing with a drum or teaching their sons to hunt. Four katsinam cross a road looking suspiciously like four fab guys from Liverpool, England. Some katsinam perform timeless rituals, and others seem to have been hunting in a galaxy far, far away. Honyouti comes from a long line of carvers, including his grandfather, Clyde; his father, Ron; his uncles Brian, Lauren, and Richard; and his younger brother, Kevin. He is of the Coyote clan from Hotevilla, and he is a husband and father. Honyouti began carving when he was young but took a break for many years before taking up his tools as a professional artist. Since then, the art world has taken note. His carvings have won awards at major shows and festivals, and his work has been purchased by museums, collectors, and ordinary people attracted by both the sacred and the fanciful in his designs. He arranges all of this activity around his schedule as a middle school teacher, a role he speaks of with great respect. On social media, Honyouti shares a wide range of art, from intricately carved cylinders depicting ancient and present-day Hopi life, to T-shirts featuring characters inspired by American pop culture. His work is far-reaching in subject matter and symbolism, and this comes from respect for those who came before him as well as some radical advice he received as a young artist. I spoke with him by phone at his home in Arizona.
SP: What were you taught about katsinam as a child, and what do they mean to you now as an adult? MH: They’re a part of our culture. They are reminders. They’re teachers. They’re guides. Well, I learn from them to teach me about daily life, teach me about
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family, teach me about hard work, applying those teachings into my daily life. You come from a family of carvers. How did you get started? Just watching them, really. Learning by sitting with them. Helping sand, doing
above Droids at Walpi, acrylic on wooden panel. All images courtesy of the artist. opposite Mavasta Honyouti with his plaque, The Soyoko Series No. 4—The Offerings, 2014.
some sanding myself, and then eventually trying it on my own. My dad was there with me. He gave me my first set of tools. I was one of those kids that would sit at the booth with my dad during the art shows. That’s when I would walk around and visit with other artists’ kids. That was something that I grew up doing. I didn’t grow up knowing that I was going to be carrying on this art form, but when I had children, then I knew that this was what I wanted to continue being. When it came to doing the art shows, that’s just something that … I wanted to carry on my dad and my grandfather and my uncles’ craft. Just something to keep it going. Zena Pearlstone just released the book, Brian Honyouti: Hopi Carver, about your uncle, and of course, there are other well-known carvers in your family. Can you speak about their influence on your work?
Absolutely. That’s where my roots are. Like I said, I grew up watching them and being around them and attending shows and galleries with them. Just being inspired and amazed at the creativity and the talent, basically. That’s definitely a huge influence on my own work. In certain pieces I will include a little bit of something that they created … making it a part of what I do, which is my way of honoring them. They’re definitely a huge influence on me. What are your preferred carving materials and tools? X-Acto blades, gouges, and pocket knives … and emery boards. Looking at your work up close, it’s always so intricate. For example, at the Indian Market last year, I looked inside of a cylinder, and even inside,
everything is still carved so intricately. Do you envision a piece and make notes, or do you just kind of create as you go? A little bit of both. Some of the ideas just come through discussion with my wife, or I see something and it reminds me of something … maybe an experience or a ceremony or something that happened, but just memories. I try to incorporate all of those little stories into every piece that I make. I have an overall theme, and then from there I’ll decide what figures I want to include in it. Sometimes I’ll run out of space and now I put things in there—little symbols or colors or little figures—that’ll represent something that I also wanted to include in it. Lately I’ve been carving on the inside of the bases, making designs on the inside. That’s also another surface for me to FALL 2018 | 63
school, and then like a week or two later, the Santa Fe Indian Market is that same week, so I miss a couple of days of school with them, even though we barely got started. Luckily my supervisors and my principals let me go. Usually one of the pieces that I’m working on, that I want to enter for judging or something, I’ll take to school, and I’ll show them. I’ll explain, this is what I’ve been doing. This is part of what I do. Some of the students, they already know. Maybe they’ve seen something on social media or something like that. But many of them, they don’t know that I do this as well.
add more of the content or the story of what I wanted to share. So that part is fun. Just finding every little place to put something associated with the story.
above Sohu Wars, 2016, acrylic on wooden panel. opposite Hemis Katsina, 2018, cottonwood root, acrylic, 11 in. high, collection of the Arizona State Museum, Tucson, AZ.
You’re a father and a schoolteacher so you spend a lot of time with young people. How has that affected you as an artist? They actually share a lot of influence with me. One time there was a group of my students who were going to be doing the social dances, the buffalo dances, and so we had some discussion. They share their experiences, and we talk about those things. I made a carving of buffalo dancers, just to commemorate that moment with them. I really don’t share a lot about my artist side with my students at first. It always turns out that we start
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So, I tell them where I’m going to be going. I tell them what I’m going to be doing. I tell them that it’s an opportunity to share something that you work hard for, and when people get to see it, you’re sharing your story with them. I tell them, too, that I’m sharing a part of what kind of life we have. People get to see it, and [I tell them] that when they have the opportunity to travel, they have the opportunity to meet people and take advantage of those times. Represent your family well, and represent your community well, and carry yourself in high regard. Things like that I’ll share with them before I go. When I return, they usually ask me questions about what happened. What did I see? Where did I go? What did we do? Throughout the year, I’ll share. What I also like to do is buy prints and posters from different artists whenever I go to art shows. And I’ll bring them back, and I’ll put something up on the wall in the classroom and let them admire it. Talk about what are their feelings about this certain piece or how they interpret it. It’s just something that I enjoy doing. I have a lot of artwork in my classroom. Then at the end of the year, the students will connect with it or admire it so much, I’ll give it to them as a gift, and tell them to take care of it. Something that you can take with you. So they enjoy those kinds of things.
Represent your family well, and represent your community well, and carry yourself in high regard.
Now I’m teaching middle school, and there’s a lot of similar interests as far as like pop culture and superheroes and comic books and Star Wars and things like that. So with the posters and prints that I buy from different artists, that’s usually what’s portrayed in them. You use a lot of pop culture references in your work, especially Star Wars lately. Is that kind of how you started, working with young people? No. I’ve always been a fan, and I just decided one day, this would look pretty cool. There’s a lot of symbolism and similarities, not just in Hopi culture, but a lot of different Native cultures, that are similar … I just start making connections with symbolism at first. Then I’m going back into the background stories of the different characters, what they are, and what they look like. I’m making connections with what we have in ours, so that’s where I started, and I just let it go. I just continued, and I was like, Oh, yeah, I can do this. This ship’s pretty cool. I’ll go ahead and try this. There’s a whole other subculture of Star Wars fans, and Native art Star Wars ideas and images. So that’s pretty neat when you see other artists doing the same thing or something similar. Can you talk about the role of humor in your work? I get that from my uncle Brian. He always incorporated humor. I think of it as he was making fun of society, mocking it. He portrayed certain things where you have to see it and understand it, and then you get the picture. In a way, I carry that as a way to honor him and to portray certain things in the world that I see. Just put it out there. If people can get it, then they get it. If not, it’s just something that they—I don’t know, they might be fighting to understand or maybe they just don’t see the same way that I do. There’s positive and some negative feedback from it, but it’s just something that I feel like is there, and FALL 2018 | 65
Wherever we are at the moment, I would think. I do put those two time periods together to show that there’s still that hold to old ancient … ways, and an acceptance with modern ways and modern times in American society. Like with the food. We have our dances and ceremonies where [local Hopi] food is being served and shared, and then there’s a can of soda next to it, or packaged bread, things like that, that are also sitting on the table. It’s just the way that life evolves and culture evolves. [It’s being] accepting of different ways and new things. So, it’s just a connection of time and space. Excellent. Thank you. You post on social media a lot, and I’ve noticed that you branch out to a lot of different media: skateboards, jewelry, T-shirts, things like that. What are you working on right now?
above Entering the Kiva, 2018, cottonwood root, acrylics. opposite Protectors, 2018, cottonwood root, acrylics, 11½ × 6¾ in.
I don’t ignore it. I don’t overlook it. Our society has changed, and of course, I’m very respectful of the [cultural] aspects of it, but I’m also bringing in our modern times and how things have evolved, and what’s happening now. That’s basically how I portray a lot of my images. That leads right to my next question. You do include a lot of modern things and ancient things together. Like you’ll see in a carving a Sunkist box, or of course the superheroes. You can interpret this question how you want, but where do you see your art in time and space?
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This weekend I was asked to discuss alternative canvases at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. I met with the coordinator, and she was talking about some ideas she had wanted me to share. I was telling her that when I got the skateboard decks, I was a little intimidated. Just at that first one, last summer, in Flagstaff, [where] they were all painters. And I kept thinking, I’m not really a painter. I’m a carver. I carve things. There’s dimensions there. But I knew what I wanted to portray on my skateboard decks. Then when this opportunity came up, she was sharing the same thing, alternative canvases like skateboards and T-shirts. The guy that I’m going to be doing the talk with does work on custom shoes. At that moment, I also explained to her, “Well, I don’t really work on canvas. I make wood carvings.” But that doesn’t really define my style. It’s hard to explain. It doesn’t define who I am, to be a woodcarver, if that makes sense. My ideas and images that I want to portray can go on anything else.
So you almost consider yourself more of an artist in general, as opposed to specifically a carver? I didn’t really think about it like that, but maybe that is the case. Yeah. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten as an artist? Just go with it. Don’t hold back. I’ve always wanted to try to make multiple figures onto one piece. When I first started going back to shows, I think in 2010, 2011, it was different. A lot of the responses I would get were like, “Oh, wow. I’ve never seen anything like this.” But they wouldn’t commit to it. So I was talking to [Hopi carver/artist] Manfred Susunkewa at one of the art shows. He came by my booth, and he was talking to me. He was the one who told me, “Just go with it. You have a unique look. There’s something different about this. There’s something there. You need to go with this. Just go with it. Don’t hold back.” I looked up to him, when I was researching and looking at old photographs of traditional carvings. He was the leading artist in that genre, so he was very encouraging to me. So when he told me that, then I was like, Okay, yeah. I’m going to go ahead and do this. I’m just going to stay with it. Because it got to the point where like, well, maybe this isn’t really going to work out for me. Maybe I should just go back to that style that I used to do before. That was safer for me. Once he told me that, then I was like, Okay, I’m going to stick with it. After that, the popularity picked up. It just went from there. It all happened so fast. It seems like a long time ago, but it’s not really been that long since all of that happened, and when I got started. The style of artwork and new ideas come to me, or images that I want to include. Things come, and I just go with it. Of course, I keep respect in what I do. I honor those who led the way and got us new guys to where we are now. They
were pioneering in a way, innovators. We use what they started to develop our own styles. But yes, I would say that was one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received.
Just that I would like to thank you for this opportunity, and I look forward to continuing what I’m doing, what I’m creating, and being inspired by other people around me.
Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would like to say?
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CREE SINGER-SONGWRITER AND DIGITAL ARTIST
BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE By Jason Morgan Edwards
UFFY SAINTE-MARIE is a world-renowned musician, activist, and philanthropist, but at the core of all she does, she is an artist. Audiences in the US have missed the breadth and depth of her artistry since her personal values, and therefore much of her work, were censored for not being in lockstep with the political agenda of the time. She is best recognized for her protest songs of the 1960s, a mere fraction of her recording career. Singing and songwriting only represent one facet of her identity as an artist. “The Cree singer-songwriter has been a trailblazer and a tireless advocate, an innovative artist, and a disruptor of the status quo,” it states in her biography on her official website. “In 1969, she made one of the world’s first electronic vocal albums; in 1982 she became the only Indigenous person to win an Oscar; she spent five years on Sesame Street where she became the first woman to breastfeed on national television.” Plenty more accolades can be listed, but we’ll name just a few more here: she won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1983 for “Up Where We Belong” and was honored with the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement award. She’s been awarded a Polaris Music Prize, numerous JUNO Awards, at least 16 honorary degrees and was named officer in the Order of Canada.
Digital Visions & Synesthesia BUFFY IS ALSO AN ACCOMPLISHED DIGITAL ARTIST and has been since the emergence of the genre. The end result is a spectacular outpouring of color, emotion, and visual
brilliance—a tangible representation of her innate beauty. She began practicing her craft in the early 1980s. She recalls, “In 1984, I got my first Macintosh. It was black and white, 128K, and I still have it. I was thrilled that on the same little machine I could make art, record music, and write. When I had to go on the road for concerts, I would put a disk in my purse and continue working in the next city, renting equipment wherever I’d go.” These early digital creations are even more impressive when you consider them in terms of the multistep processes. Her final products are brilliantly colored, but on that early screen from which they were manifested, they were monochrome. She credits being an artist with being able to envision the final manifestation. “If you’re an artist you can make art in black and white, and many
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artists do. Or, if you have paints, you can use paints. Computer monitors were not available in color until several years later. It had nothing to do with me. When color became available, I jumped on color. Up until then, I jumped on black and white. I’ll use anything!” She always created, but using this machine allowed her to tap into new ways to express her creativity. And she discovered it almost by accident. She laughingly explains, “Like every other thing in my artistic life, I kind of fell into it and loved it. I’ll make art and music with whatever’s on hand. It’s just fun, absorbing, revealing; keeps me curious to see what will happen if I do this or do that. “Although I still make art in both my wet studio with real paint and my digital studio with computers, it’s
basically the same thing. However, there are a few serious advantages to digital art. Very easy cleanup, and you can save multiple versions and satisfy your curiosity in a million ways without losing the original idea.” Buffy’s painting and digital art come from the same wellspring that lends voice to her music. Her songs are the very definition of spontaneity and creativity, but with a slight twist. “Music is very visual to me. See, I’m dyslexic … and I’ve never been able to learn to sight read. I know how and I can write for an orchestra, but I cannot read it back the next day. The point is, I have a ‘helicopter view’ of music, almost like a painting of the song. I know what it’s about and what it ‘looks’ like. I don’t experience it left to right as in linear reading. That’s what I can’t do. So, I get there by another route, very much like a painting. I sort of imagine the whole song from above— beginning, middle, and end.” Her inspirations are “everything. The cosmos and gut bacteria are similar in my imagination. I’m very comfortable being just part of the whole, completely outnumbered by gazillions of others bigger and smaller than me. Maybe you can tell I was a philosophy major,” she says laughing, and yes, she does hold a degree in philosophy. She is genuinely hesitant to describe or classify her work. I suggested it was electrified watercolor with a hint of the psychedelic, and she responds, “There is a lot of psychedelic in me. I’m a terrible glutton for light and color. I used to hide under the bed and stare at a light bulb for some weird reason when I was little. I’m crazy about neon. I love every one of the fabled, sixteen million colors. I had a great time playing with some of the muddy colors in Elder Brothers, weird colors that don’t really have names. Making art is a solitary pastime for me and I go on for hours and hours, skip meals, unplug the phone—because it’s always intriguing. You never know what’s going to happen next.” Although Buffy has experimented with painting, pen and ink, charcoal, weaving, and other media, and likes them all, she has not gotten very serious
above The Mohawk Warrior Contemplates His Future, digital print on Kodak Professional Endura Metallic VC digital paper, 371/2 × 37 in. All images courtesy of the artist. opposite Buffy Sainte-Marie and her digital work, Neon Hula 3.
about any of them. “I’ve always loved embroidery, beadwork, needlepoint, and other sewing,” she says, and “I used to make most of my stage clothes. But what I really crave to do and have not is sculpture and pottery. One of these days …” The songwriter doesn’t just embrace technology for visual arts. She founded the nonprofit Cradleboard Teaching Project, which promotes self-esteem and bolsters Indigenous identity among Native American children in the United States through websites, chat rooms, videoconferencing, and other interactive technologies. Founded in 1997, the Cradleboard Teaching Project provides Native American curriculum for teachers and students and pairs Native and non-Native students to foster cross-cultural understanding.
Show Business & Activism BUFFY’S MUSIC CAREER, spanning over 50 years, has made her an international icon. She has written songs for some of the most prominent and prolific singers of the modern era. Her lyrics are as timeless as they are poignant. Surprisingly, writing songs remains a challenge, and Buffy says, “I still write crap and I still write things I like enough to save.” Performing made her nervous when she was just starting out, but “there was no one else to sing the songs. So, it was the content of the songs that gave me courage to deliver them.” It wasn’t long before she was writing pop standards recorded by the likes of Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Donovan, Joe Cocker, and Jennifer Warnes. FALL 2018 | 69
a b ov e We s a ke c h a k t h e Trickster, digital print on watercolor paper, 27 × 33½ in. opposite Buffy Sainte-Marie performing at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, ON, July 3, 2017. Photo: D. Brian Campbell.
She stays current with today’s music by listening to such artists as Kelly Slater, Tanya Tagaq, Rhianna, Sia, Alessia Cara, Michael Franti, Brian Eno, Grimes, Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’, and Pink. Buffy has had phenomenal success in music, but she’s also confronted industry intimidation. “Show business is very competitive. And then there are politicians who will hold you back if they feel threatened.” She has experienced that firsthand. But the efforts to mute her seem to have had the opposite effect considering the longevity, notoriety, and success she’s enjoyed. Rather than halt her growth, they actually propelled her
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career forward, but she sees it differently. After she penned “Universal Soldier,” the definitive anti-war anthem of the 20th century, Buffy was blacklisted in the United States by the Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations. She sang about American Indian rights and uranium mining, and held fundraisers for Native struggles such as the 1969–71 Occupation of Alcatraz. Shipments of her records disappeared in transit. Radio DJs were instructed not to play her songs. “No, it did not backfire on them. They put us out of business and thus gagged us so that the people who could have helped make great changes never even heard us. They kept my medicine from the people who needed it. Please, don’t believe that there’s some kind of revenge factor to having survived blacklisting by businessmen. They stole from my audiences and they stole from me, but don’t feel sorry for me, because personally and professionally I’ve had a great life in Canada and the rest of the world. It was only the Americans who were robbed when we were silenced. Other countries got the message and I’ve gotten to see the world.” The US’s loss was the world’s gain as Buffy found acclaim and acceptance on the international stage, and it certainly didn’t halt her production. To date, Buffy has recorded 21 albums. She cites various artists who have influenced her music including “Tchaikovsky and Little Richard. Also, Edith Piaf, Carmen Amaya, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, [and] Harry Belafonte.” She is known for taking strong stances through her songs, giving voice to those who have suffered at the hands of government and big industry. Buffy is still actively recording and touring. She released her first album, It’s My Way, in 1964. Her latest release, Medicine Songs (2017), responds to the current political climate. It won the 2018 Juno Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year—Buffy gave the statue to Elaine Bomberry (Ojibwe-Cayuga) who helped found the Juno category 25 years ago.
Political Progress BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE also stays engaged with current geopolitical events. For the past five years she has made one of the smaller Hawaiian islands her home. She votes as a US citizen. She says about current trends toward more social activism and demonstrations: “It’s about time! Citizens are finally beginning to act like citizens! If we’re so lazy to elect politicians and then take a nap, we get termites who chew the whole house down. The foxes have been guarding the chicken house for generations, election after election, and it has to get this obvious before people complain? I’m glad that many people are focusing on outing these misogynists, crooks, gluttons, and boneheads. Time’s up! Me, too! Idle no more!” Buffy sponsored several people’s travel to Standing Rock for the NoDAPL demonstrations. She was not able to go herself due to prior commitments, but her son was on site. “I don’t support any
energy company. I don’t feel the people who are running the energy companies today are the right people. I don’t think they know what they’re doing, and I don’t think they care much. I think their commitment is to the bottom line. The risks of polluting the Missouri River and breaking [treaties] with Indigenous people is obviously 100 percent wrong.” She sees change and progress in her home country of Canada under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Yes, a huge difference. Too wonderful [and too] much to discuss here. The difference between Trudeau and the last PM, [Stephen] Harper, is a blessing. However, Trudeau’s policies on energy, pipelines, etc., are troubling me.” Although Trudeau is taking steps to tackle the issue, Canada and the US have yet to adequately address the epidemic numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women. “It’s a much bigger problem than [what’s on] the surface. The 500-year history of the enslavement of Indigenous women is a horror, and missing and murdered Indigenous
women and girls is not some new issue. With truth and reconciliation ongoing in Canada, people are still reeling, but when hooked to knowledge about the ongoing worldwide trade of females, it’s a lot to stomach. First, I want to see Canadians and Americans understand that the Doctrine of Discovery … has got to go. If Pope Francis doesn’t overturn it (oh, how I hope he will!) then one by one the settler colonials must be made aware. “I think people tend to put politicians on a pedestal. We make them into kings. They’re not. They’re supposed to be accomplishing what we want them to do. A lot of people get drunk with power. I’ve been to Washington and Ottawa. I’ve hung around the halls of politics. It becomes a big competition for little boys and girls. Sometimes good work gets done, but very often they’re just fighting with each other. We need better leaders and a better system.” She’s still optimistic for the future, saying we’ve survived bad leadership before; we will survive bad leadership again. FALL 2018 | 71
above Pink Village, digital print on Kodak Professional Endura Metallic VC digital paper, 49 × 52½ in. o pp o s i t e Self-Portrait, digital print on Kodak Professional Endura Metallic VC digital paper, 33 × 45½ in.
“WE HAVE TO GET OVER THE HORRORS of the past in order to deal with the horrors that are still happening. We all know people that have grown up in the European pecking order, which was totally reinforced in the residential schools. We have to take real steps in changing things in the human heart. Break the cycle of bullying. Treat each other nicely. “I have a personal campaign that some people are finding helpful. Whether it’s big predatory politicos or your own family members, in the office
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or in the home, we need to break the cycle. Bullying. Abuse. Alcohol. Drugs. Some of us fear to go against the family traditions, and the pecking order in some families is hella strong. To say no to a drink when your cousin wants to get down is a terrible peer pressure in families. Young women especially have a hard time finding a way out of this without hurting someone’s feelings. God bless the people who maintain shelters, run community colleges, and offer other help to people who really need a new safe environment. For many, moving away and going to college—a safe roof over your head and some new friends—can give you the space for a new start.”
She sees a more concerted emphasis on building alliances as a key component to success. In terms of aggregate numbers, Native populations are smaller than other minority groups, but Buffy does not see this as an insurmountable barrier. “It’s no crime that we’re small, but if we are going to go forward, we at least have to know what it is in our situation, as Native people. What is it that we’re lacking that some others have? Very often it’s [that] we don’t know where the door is. We have no entrée. We have no connections. We have no network. We have no partners.” She appreciates that she has a different perspective because of her life and lifestyle as an artist, businessperson, and community activist. Buffy recognizes that the tide is shifting in terms of Native people asserting more control over their narratives and building coalitions with other Indigenous groups. “It’s all got to happen. Change doesn’t happen and stop. Change is ongoing.”
No Stopping Her THE YOUTHFUL 77-YEAR-OLD has a busy tour schedule in the months ahead. She has multiple planned stops in Canada and the Pacific Northwest in the US, including a few solo concerts and three symphony concerts on her home reserve. “Every night the audience is new, and the songs are always hot.” Although she’s seen largely as a folk singer, she has recorded a myriad of musical styles, some unconventional. The song, “God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot” comes to mind. Although she composed the music, the lyrics are actually Leonard Cohen’s words from the book, Beautiful Losers. When asked how she creates songs, Buffy responds, “It’s just fun to write whatever you’re feeling and try different things.” She continues, “I’m inspired when I’m inspired. It usually happens several times a day.” In the 1960s, Buffy was recording folk music in the US, but after she was blacklisted, the country lost track of her. Many Americans have never had the opportunity to hear her recordings with symphony orchestras or rock bands, or
even her film scores, and she cites this as one of the main differences between Canada and the US when it comes to Native peoples. In Canada, it is not uncommon to find media coverage of Native events, or businesses, or people in general. In the US, it’s rare to find news articles about Natives in mainstream publications. “In the past, [media outlets] kind of ignored Native American people. There’s not much money in it. There’s no buy-in. For the black music industry, the white music industry, there are hundreds of thousands of people. There are millions of dollars spent in publicity.” Still honing her craft, Buffy says, “As a three-year-old, I was making up original music and playing fake Tchaikovsky with no lessons, and it was fun, and I didn’t want to stop. I still play music and make art for the same reasons and no amount of money can make me do it—or stop doing it.” Although Buffy performs her original music, she delves into the domain of
covers, too. One of the most significant is the song, “Lord Randall.” This unusual choice is a “really obscure murder ballad, hundreds of years old, found in collections from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.… Some of those old melodies are very beautiful, but the stories are bloody evidence about the people, places, and times they come from, and we can learn from that. From the serfs to the royals, in public and in the home, feudal Europe was a murderous place, and those songs were like the news. Set to absolutely beautiful melodies and sung by travelers and troubadours, some of those old songs feel like the only tattletales ever to escape into the daylight.” The true Buffy Sainte-Marie is a startlingly witty and energetic woman who embodies intelligence and beauty. Buffy’s artwork and tour schedule are available on her website. Her fans will be thrilled to learn that Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography is due to be released in September.
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HAIDA BASKET MAKER
LISA TELFORD By Kelly Church
ISA TELFORD comes from a long line of renowned Haida weavers including her aunt Delores Churchill and cousin Evelyn Vanderhoop, a Chilkat weaver. Although Lisa was born in Ketchikan, Alaska, she grew up throughout. Her father died when she was young. While her mom was visiting her aunt in Chicago, she met Lisa’s stepfather, a ironworker. They traveled all over the United States to the next big job, and Lisa never began and finished a school year in the same place. Everett, Washington, is now Lisa’s home base. She is nationally and internationally recognized for her unique innovative baskets and her finely woven, classical Haida style baskets. Among numerous awards and honors, Lisa has had residencies at the Eiteljorg Museum, National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, and ATLATL in New York. A 2006 SWAIA Fellow, and a two-time fellow of the Native Arts and Culture Foundation (NACF) for her creations and mentoring, she was selected for this year’s NACF mentorship program. A talented and patient artist, Lisa instructs others in weaving at museums and other institutions, and also works as the family career navigator for the Tulalip Tribes’ pre-apprenticeship program. Lisa weaves in the evenings and her free time, and cares for her mother, whose company she enjoys. KC: How long have you been weaving and what inspired you to start? LT: I have been weaving since 1992. I grew up among a family of weavers, so everybody in my family wove. I saw it every day, and I basically took it for granted—until I moved to Washington in 1986. I joined a dance group, and I danced with a hat. Everybody said, “Where’d you get that
bookkeeper, and when she was getting ready to retire, she basically took over when my grandmother retired. And your mother? She used to weave in Indiana by herself. I remember she used to come home with boxes of spruce roots when she’d go visit my grandmother. What materials do you weave with? Do you harvest your own materials? Where do you acquire materials?
hat?” Back then, hardly anybody had hats. I’m like, “My grandma made it.” When I was 13, she wanted to teach me how to weave, and I said “Grandma, I don’t have time for that,” because when you’re 13, you’re busy running, right? So I remembered at that time, in 1986, how everybody wanted a hat so badly that I missed an opportunity. I didn’t realize that at 13. One day my mom came, about 1990, and I said, “You know, there’s something I regret. I regret not learning how to weave.” My mom hadn’t been weaving, and she said, “Well, Delores owes me a favor. I’m going to ask her to teach you.” So that’s who taught me, my aunt Delores. She came down and gave me a basic lesson, and I really liked it, so I wrote a grant [proposal] from Washington State Arts Commission and apprenticed with her. Did Delores learn from your grandmother, whom you wish you had worked with? Yes. She learned from my grandmother. She actually worked at a hospital as a
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I use red and yellow cedar barks. I do harvest my own materials. Harvesting is the connection to the basket. I could buy cedar bark, there are people who sell it. I personally don’t sell it, but I am able to prepare it the way I like it. I know the time to collect it. Some people get it later and it’s darker, and I like to get it early. I am able to get the quality product that I am looking for. Once a year the cedar tree freely gives itself to you, in the spring. So I just went harvesting. I have to go into the woods. We drive about 45 minutes away. I pull my own cedar bark, and I take or peel off the outer bark, and I roll it and I take it home. I hang it on the rack and put a fan on it, and the next day I open it up like a telescope to dry completely. I close it up the following day and leave it hanging for one week, then I store it for one year before I use it. What indicators let you to know that it’s time to harvest? Basically the weather throughout the winter. If it was a bad lingering winter, then it’ll be later in the spring. If it was a nice calm winter, then it probably will be earlier—around one month earlier. But because I live in the city, I look at indicators, like if the scotch broom is blooming, and the cottonwoods are letting their
above Too Haida, red and yellow cedar bark, 7⅜ × 3 x 8½ in., collection of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University, Salem, OR. Photo: Jonathan Bucci. Image courtesy of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. opposite Lisa Telford weaving. Image courtesy of the artist.
little cotton fly—little fluffs of cotton that fly through the air. Kind of looks like it snowed. Typically when that cotton starts blowing, shortly after that the bark is over. It will come off the tree, but it’ll be real sappy. And red cedar, when it’s sappy, leaves a white powdery residue on the bark, and it’s not very pretty. So you can really use that only for clothes. Is cedar difficult to get these days? It’s getting more difficult. You know, more and more people are weaving, and more and more people are discovering weaving with cedar bark. It becomes a lot more competitive. We don’t have the issue that weavers do with the ash borer, or any other bugs, but there are some bugs moving in. I’m not really sure what they are, but I know if you cross I-90, up at the top, a lot of the cedar trees are dead. I’ve seen bears. I’ve seen deer, because I was pulling bark and turned out it was a deer trail. I looked up and there was this
giant deer standing up the hill. I’ve seen bears, but usually only from my car when I’m driving to the place. But where I was this weekend, there was fresh bear poop. I make noise so he knows I’m there and he’s not going to come, and I’m not going to surprise him. How do you start a piece? Do you have a process of preparation? Well, because I enjoy weaving so much, and I do not like preparation, I think about what I might possibly want to make. So when I feel like I’m going to start preparing bark, I’m running low on my preparation material … I prepare it all ahead of time. When I’m ready, all I have to do is just weave. I prepare all my red cedar, and I put it in bundles. That’s one reason why, if you look at my baskets, and they’re three-and-a-quarter to threeand-a-half inches tall, every single one of those should have 84 warp. One that’s like two inches should have 52 warp, because I prepare it in those bundles. I prepare like
a bundle of warp for a four-inch basket, two-inch basket, ten-inch basket, you know, a women’s work basket. That refers to how many warps are in a basket. Other people call them spokes. I prepare all that red cedar, and then I tag it. When I want to weave, I look at the tag, it’s like, Hmm, I think I’ll do that. And if I rip material for a pair of shoes, I’ll rip enough material for two pairs of shoes, because I might want to make another pair later. A warp is the red cedar that you use to weave over, and weavers are yellow cedar, and I twine with those. When I do my yellow cedar, I prepare all my yellow cedar and I put them in little buckets, and I grade them by color. So when I’m ready to weave, I can pull out a bundle of warp, and a bucket of yellow cedar, and just weave. Where is your favorite weaving spot? I weave in the living room. I have a special chair my cat scratched up, but it’s the only FALL 2018 | 75
chair I feel comfortable weaving in. So I don’t get rid of that chair. My mom’s like, “When are you going to get rid of that chair?” And I’m like, “Not until I find one I’m comfortable in.” It just suits me right, my little table sits perfectly in it, and I do it in the living room. What kinds of baskets do you weave? All kinds of baskets, like clam baskets. First of all, baskets were essential to survival, and they were used for food gathering, food storage. The bark was used as a diaper; it was used as cedar clothing, so everything that I weave was essential years ago, but now I just continue because I enjoy it. I weave clam baskets, seaweed baskets. Form follows function, so if I say “clam basket,” that’s a style. That clam basket would only be used for gathering clams. Seaweed is a style, and you know, by looking, what it’s for. That’s the only thing it will ever be used for. A spoon basket, cooking baskets—they all had a function, but I also make little earrings. I like to make a little something at night to help me wash away the day’s stress and strife, because it clears my mind. There’s nothing in my mind when I’m weaving. It’s just blank. And I’m free of all my troubles, aches, and pains. Tell me about your innovative work. Well, like I said earlier, I come from a long line of weavers, and form follows function. Everything has a purpose, and it’s all about tradition. But my first piece, I was asked by Terrell Dew Johnson to submit a contemporary piece to a show in New York. And I had no idea what to do. I took some cedar bark and dyed it all blue, and I made a clam basket and I called it Blue Clam. The lady who was head of this place said, “That’s not contemporary.” And he said, “It is to her.”
above PochaHaida, red cedar bark, cordage, cloth, 35 × 13½ × 12 in., collection of the Burke Museum Ethnology Collection, Seattle, WA, #2014-50/1. opposite Clam Basket, 2000, red cedar bark, yellow cedar bark, commercially dyed beargrass, 6½ × 9 × 9 in., collection of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University, George and Colleen Hoyt Art Acquisition Fund, Salem, OR, 2000.042.001. Photo: Jonathan Bucci.
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Terrell pushed me to the edge of the cliff, and David McFadden kicked me off. He knew I did fibers—you know, clothing. Then he wanted me to make a contemporary piece of cedar bark clothing. I didn’t know what I was going to do. So my first piece of contemporary art was a bustier made out of red cedar and yellow cedar. I called it A Night on the Village.
And the Heard Museum bought it because they said this was a turning point in my career, and they had to have it. It was also in that show Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation. From there on, I just felt like I could do anything. So I started making cedar bark dresses, and then I did a necktie. Then someone asked me for a pair of shoes for a shoe show. I didn’t know they wanted my shoes, and I’ve got really big feet, so they wouldn’t have been nice anyways. So I went to Washington, DC, and I traced this gal’s foot—a small foot—and I started weaving a shoe. Then I studied shoes at the Burke Museum. They have three pairs of shoes. But they’re all flat, like mini-moccasins, little baby moccasins, and another sneaker-type shoe. So I kind of wanted to follow that, and at the bottom they had a cedar bark insole, but I couldn’t make it flat. When I made my first bottoms, I plated it and then I twined around it, and it curled like a slipper that curls. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t make one, and I went home and looked at it for two weeks, and I thought,
“Why am I trying to make it flat? Why fight it? Make it a high heel.” So that’s how I came up with high heels. What is your favorite piece to weave? Do you have a favorite you get excited about? No. Actually, if I don’t weave, I dream about weaving. So I try to weave something every day, or at least prepare material. I think if I did have to have one [favorite], it probably would be A Night on the Village, my first bustier. What weaving techniques do you use? Twining, plaiting, false embroidery. I like to make designs with false embroidery, but it’s very, very time consuming. If I did it on a basket that was eight inches diameter, it would be 52 hours. What I would like to do is to get to a point where I’m going to do the false embroidery, and then work on it until it’s done. I would probably do it on a three-day weekend, and work 15 hours a day. Have you ever really kept track of the time prepping the material? I know
there’s so much that goes into it. I did, you know, because you have to pound the bark, you have to hang it, you have to shred it, you have to cook the yellow cedar, you have to thin it to the width and thickness of a blade of glass. I don’t have it right off the top of my head, but I do have it written down. Then spinning of the cordage is 80 hours. I know that, because my granddaughter learned how to spin by watching me spin for 80 hours. Yeah, it was cute. She’s going be 21 in November. I’m going be a greatgrandma! But she learned when she was two, to thigh spin from watching me thigh spin so much. And pounding takes three days for one garment. Congratulations! So what is the process of pounding? What do you use, and what are you pounding? I’m pounding the red cedar, and I have a pounding bench that has a spot that I sit on. In between my legs comes up a piece of oak that’s cut on a 45 [degree angle], and then I have a flat piece of yew wood that basically kind of scissor axes when FALL 2018 | 77
One of the weavers I like is my cousin Holly Churchill. Her fingers are so nimble. If you’re going to put an ending in—I have to use two hands, and she can take that warp and whip it around with her index finger and stick it in. If you take your index finger and twirl it to the right, almost to make a circle, that’s what she does and her ending is done. That impresses me. Do the places you’ve traveled to inspire you? I got design inspiration in New York City in the subway: the tiles. So next time you go to New York and you take the subway and you see the tile designs, you’re going go, “Wow. I could put that in a basket.” I wove it into a clam basket, and I did the design with false embroidery. Do you have a desired audience? When you’re making a piece, are you thinking about it being educational—to teach people, to tell a story—or do you just feel like weaving it?
above Spoon Basket, 2010, red and yellow cedar bark with blue dye. Image courtesy of artist. opposite, top A Night on the Village, pounded red cedar bark, cotton cordage, guinea-feather trim, carved bone, faux leather, collection of the Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ. Image courtesy of the Heard Museum. opposite, bottom detail of A Night on the Village featuring a carved bone button on the back of the bodice. Image courtesy of the Heard Museum.
you hit it, and you hear a nice crack. So it’s really hard on the shoulder, and that’s why it takes three days to prepare enough material for one garment. But that’s not counting the hanging of it. So 40 hours, or 80 hours, three days, and then the twining of it.… But then, you’re not even finished. You’ve got to put finishing touches on it. You’ve got to put buttons on it, wrap something around the header cord, so that’s another day and a half. Your artworks show your time. They’re all amazing. Who inspires you? Do you have anyone that inspires you as a weaver, as a person?
I would say I’m inspired by everybody. I think I admire everybody’s thoughts. I have a friend, Jan Hopkins. She amazes me because she can make something out of anything. She makes pieces out of orange peels, bull kelp. You know, how she thinks of those things is beyond me, so I’m impressed by that. Mary Leitka inspired me to do cedar clothing. She came in to a big meeting for the Northwest Native American Basketweavers [Association] with all of these cedar clothes—three tables full, a bunch of canoe capes and tunics. Do you have a favorite weaver?
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I don’t have an intention in any of it. For me, it’s all about self-gratification. I enjoy it, it makes me feel good, and that’s really the only reason I do it. However, I was inspired to start weaving because of dancers. I wanted to weave because I wanted other dancers to have hats. The first year I was making hats, I made so many hats that I didn’t make them again for three years. Because that’s all I did was make hats, hats, hats. How many hats do you think you’ve woven so far? Oh my gosh, well, I gave some away in potlatch. I can’t really say. I think the first year I probably made about 20, which is a lot. Then one year I gave five away in a potlatch—I gave them to someone to give away. Now I probably weave one a year, but I used to weave them all the time. Now you have to weave a little one, for your great-grandbaby. That’s right. I’m so excited! But see, my granddaughter still has her hat that I made for her when she was a baby.
That’s really special to be able to pass the hats down to the next generation. How many people in your family weave? All of my cousins. I think Evelyn was one of the last holdouts, and she’s a Chilkat weaver. My aunt, my daughter, and granddaughter, and some nieces. What legacy or messages would you like to leave behind? My legacy would be my daughter and granddaughter, and the message would be that they took time to prepare their material well.
What baskets will people see this summer at SWAIA market? Woven shoes, which are really baskets. People always want to wear them, but they are baskets woven to look like shoes. Earrings, and a bustier. I’m currently making a cedar bark, plaited bustier, not pounded, but it looks like the upper half of a body.
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Oil on Canvas 16” by 24”
our Joy 6 x 1 in, ffito on e, slips, nted on poplar
Finding Your Finding Joy Your Joy 27 x 6 x 127 in,x 6 x 1 in, sgraffito sgraffito on on stoneware, stoneware, slips, slips, mounted mounted on on poplar poplar
Represented Represented by: by:
Gallery Fe, NM
Worrell Worrell Gallery Gallery Santa Fe, Santa NM Fe, NM
ungCarolyn Carolyn Bernard Bernard Young Young Choctaw Choctaw Artist Artist Santa Santa Fe Indian Fe Indian Market Market Aug 18-19 Aug 18-19 Booth Booth 774 Lincoln 774 Lincoln E E
Collecting Stories: Native American Art Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
HE CENTERS FOR NATIVE AMERICAN ART seldom coincide with the centers for mainstream art, and major American art museums often have bureaucracy, distance, and the weight of their own histories that keep them from staying abreast of developments in Indigenous art. Curators Dennis Carr and Layla Bermeo at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston attempt to address these realities in Collecting Stories: Native American Art, which draws from the museum’s earliest acquisitions of Indigenous American artworks. Though both are in the art of the Americas department, Carr is the MFA’s curator of decorative arts and sculpture, and Bermeo is an American painting curator. The museum has no curator focused on art by Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Collecting Stories showcases Native American items collected in the decades immediately following the museum’s 1876 opening. During this
period, railroad travel enabled wealthy European-Americans from the East Coast to visit Native lands in the West with relative ease and speed. Tourism spawned new American Indian art markets, and Bostonians purchased and donated Native-made artworks to the MFA. According to the exhibition’s website, “As both works of art and souvenirs, these objects initially fit into the Museum’s educational mission to represent art in all media and from all cultures. However, Native American art became less visible in the galleries during the early 20th century, and like other encyclopedic art institutions, the MFA eventually lent or donated most of its holdings to ethnographic and archaeological museums.” Ostensibly, this exhibition was intended to explore ways interpretations of the art has changed over the decades, but the eclectic selection of art objects is accompanied by minimal labels and little explanatory text. Collecting Stories opens with a First Phase Navajo Chief ’s Blanket, but the average, non-Native museumgoer is unlikely to know that some early Navajo weavings are valued in excess of a million dollars due to their rarity. Instead, that visitor would be left to observe the blanket’s formal qualities of a stained geometric weaving with pale warp threads showing through the faded red, black, and blue horizontal bands. Moving counterclockwise through the gallery, the viewer is then confronted by a display of
above Unknown, probably Wyandot artist, Moccasins, late 18th century–early 19th century, hide (moose or deer), porcupine quills, bast fiber thread, silk, dyed hair (probably moose), tinned iron cones, wool, Eastern Great Lakes, 2½ × 32/3 × 91/8 in., collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, 98.1006-1007, gift of Miss Ellen A. Stone.
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Mississippian ceramics. Not only are these plainware ceramics problematic due to their being disinterred burial goods, but they are not technically refined even by the standards of Mississippian pottery. Some of the exhibition’s early perishable items are magnificent, such as the fur-trade era pucker-toe, quilled moccasins, likely made by a Wyandot woman—if you knew what you are looking at. There are examples of Plains beadwork, Southwest ceramics, a porcupine fur men’s dance roach, and a large selection of exquisitely woven California women’s caps, collected at the beginning of the “basket craze.” These items follow the collecting patterns of so many other Eastern museums of the early 20th century. Discussion about how scholars in the newly developing field of anthropology (at that time) collected only particular items for museums would have been interesting.
The majority of items in the show sit mute and bereft of any explanation The exhibition affords an active voice to two living Indigenous artists, Maria Hupfield (Wasauksing Ojibwe) and D. Y. Begay (Navajo). The MFA owns a striking 19th-century Navajo biil, or loom-woven panel dress, but not its accompanying sis’łichii, or red sash belt, so the museum commissioned master weaver Begay, a 2018 United States Artists fellow from Tselani, Arizona, to weave a new sis’łichii to accompany the dress. MFA recorded a video short of Begay introducing herself and describing her process. Here, in a space of less than three and a half minutes, Begay shares her Navajo language and explains the spiritual significance of the sis’łichii and of weaving in general. The artist’s words bring the object to life, and the newly woven sash creates an intimate dialogue with the elegant, historic dress. The power of this video leaves me wondering, even more so than before, why the other art objects are left decontextualized and silent.
The second artist, Maria Hupfield, an interdisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, created The Silver-Tongued Taste of Progress, a performance response to what is the de facto centerpiece of the exhibition: Progress Vase, a non-Native-made confection in silver-electroplated German silver (also known as nickel brass) with hints of gold and platinum. Crafted by Reed and Barton for the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia, the four-foot-plus sculpture depicts allegorical figures of “15th-century” Indigenous Americans of the disappearing past, a triumphant portrayal of Christopher Columbus’s landing in North America, and 19th-century European-Americans pursuing arts and sciences in the name of “progress.” Maria Hupfield responded to this obsolete, racist fantasy on May 16 through her art, but all that remains of this performance are small Instagram images of the artist standing before a video screen with her silver-spandex arms thrust into felt boots adorned with dance jingles. No videos or other recordings are available, which, as I understand, was Hupfield’s desire. Overall, this show serves to reinforce the view espoused by Reed and Barton: that Native Americans we re n’t te r r ibly s oph i st i c ate d, especially in comparison to the feats of European-Americans, and that few Indigenous Americans remain today. I cannot comprehend why the curators demonstrated how the strength of a living Native artist’s words can breathe life into early artworks only to then let the majority of items in the show sit mute and bereft of any explanation, or why they gave valuable space in such a small exhibition to works by non-Native artists—not only the Progress Vase but also paintings by artists such as Albert Bierstadt. I can only hope visitors make their way down to the Ancient Americas galleries to see the incredible works of Indigenous art hidden away in the basement. What new stories the curators hoped to share with this exhibition remain a mystery; instead, we’re left with the same old story, whose time has long since passed. —America Meredith
Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer Denver Art Museum
HEN STUDYING Native literature in graduate school, I would invariably become frustrated at the beginning of every course by uninitiated students who compelled the professor to provide a brief, introductory survey of Native history. The other students and I, who all specialized in Native lit, as well as the professor, resented the phenomenon we called “Back to the Bering Strait,” tutelage that is both reductive and redundant. Jeffrey Gibson is a student of both Native and mainstream contemporary art history, but he isn’t an art history professor. He doesn’t take the time to teach his audience, but rather immediately immerses them in a polydiscursive conversation—one that requires his audience to do the background work themselves. Gibson’s exhibition Like a Hammer at the Denver Art Museum presents multimedia works that are on the precipice of both Native and mainstream art, and the venue is appropriate given the museum’s strength in both arenas. The exhibition focuses on artworks since 2011, a pivotal year in the artist’s career, when he began to incorporate references to historical Native art in his own work. Previously, Gibson, despite his Choctaw and Cherokee heritage, avoided overtly Native motifs, fearful that he would be marginalized in contemporary art circles and classified only as a “Native” artist. Since then, however, Gibson has not only dismantled the outmoded boundaries between the Native and non-Native art worlds, he has been responsible, as the exhibition’s curator, John P. Lukavic, writes, for not just reshaping Native and contemporary art history, but rather forging “art’s future.” In constructing the future, Gibson draws from the past. The chronological exhibition begins with deconstructed paintings, like Late Fragment (after Carver), pastiches of old canvases cut apart, run through a washing machine’s
rinse cycle, and pieced together years later to form collaged flags, banners, and other canvases. Such pastiche intimates the piecemeal aesthetic of Gibson’s art, especially the collaborative works. Beaded Column is a wooden construction barrier painted by Gibson, but beaded by another artist, Whitney Minthorn (Umatilla). So too is Quiver, an installation of a fluorescent light tub with pendant beadwork balls by Frankie Skye Hawk (Lakota). Both works, as well as others in the exhibition, are found and repurposed objects, underscoring their multiple authorships and multimedia. Other artists contribute to Gibson’s work in various ways. Individual words and phrases play a critical role in this body of work, and harken back to fellow text-based visual artists like Ed Ruscha, Christopher Wool, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, or Edgar Heap of Birds (Southern Cheyenne). Gibson uses both his own and other’s words to communicate with the audience. What We Want, What We Need is a beaded wall hanging in mostly black and white, an appropriate palette in relation to its source material, Public Enemy’s anthem, “Fight The Power,” one of several musical allusions. Music Gibson works to is played throughout the exhibition. Arguably, the most powerful work in the show is American History (JB), a beaded wall hanging with cones and fringe. Its greyscale borders contrast with its polychrome central text: “American history / is longer, larger / more beautiful / and more terrible / than anything / anyone has ever / said about it / JB.” The passage paraphrases James Baldwin’s 1963 article “A Talk to Teachers” and echoes the political turmoil of the past and casts a stark reflection on America’s current state of affairs. Drawing from American popular music and literature, Gibson’s artworks are politically charged. But not all of them are so overt. Gibson’s most recognizable works, his beaded punching bags, are the result of a therapy session. Discouraged by a lack of recognition of Native artists in contemporary art, Gibson was encouraged to vent his anger in a socially acceptable form of violence: the heavy bag. The release was both physical and creative. His first ever bag, Everlast, utilizes his recycled canvases FALL 2018 | 83
and Contemporary Art Afternoon Session is a testament to Gibson’s strong position in the contemporary art arena. Color also plays a critical role in Gibson’s work. Many pieces, like the canvases, beaded panels, or reclaimed objects, such as Someone Great Is Gone, an elk-hide painting, provide a full spectrum of colors. But others, like Under Cover or Frequency carefully explore the subtle variance from tone to tone within the same hue. The virtual color wheel of works challenged both the artist and the curator in selecting colors for the exhibition space walls. Most works jump off the wall, others blend into their backgrounds. The diversity of materials made installation challenging with lighting levels reduced for some of the more sensitive materials in the show. The effect is an exhibition with many bright colors, yet the space itself feels a little dark. Lukavic states:
above Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi ChoctawCherokee), OUR FREEDOM IS WORTH MORE THAN OUR PAIN, 2017, glass pony beads, artificial sinew, acrylic felt, steel, brass, 114 × 71 x 42 in., collection of Vicki and Kent Logan. Image courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles, California. opposite Porfirio Gutiérrez (Zapotec), Carding, 2018, wool, plant fiber, black sapote dye, plastic silhouettes. Image courtesy of Travois, Kansas City, MO. Photo: EG Schempf.
and introduces a trope that becomes iconic in his work: the jingle cone. Drawing from powwow culture, Gibson borrows an instrument of both sight and sound: the viewer imagines the sound and movement of the bag when hit (although audience members are not allowed to touch) and how it mimics the same of the jingle dancer’s dress. Likewise, for Gibson, the cones as well as the beads and fringe, feminize a typically masculine object. In so doing, Gibson recontextualizes notions of feminine and masculine. That one of the bags, White Power, sold to a collector involved in professional female martial arts speaks to this fluid reconsideration of gender roles. That it sold for $233,000 in November 2015 at a Christie’s Post-War
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This exhibition explores the development of Jeffrey Gibson’s visual vocabulary since the shift in his practice in 2011 and aims to push conversations of Indigenous arts forward. The works presented incorporate a variety of visual and pop cultural elements which makes his work accessible to so many people. Gibson offers something for everyone: from formal qualities like materials, color, line, and texture, to familiar song lyrics and poetry—all of which engage visitors before leading them deeper to explore issues such as gender, identity, and race through the lens of an Indigenous perspective. Through his work and this exhibition, the goal was to make the marginalized feel central and to present social issues in a way that encourages hard, but thoughtful discussions. Successful in its goal, the exhibition provides a multisensory experience that inserts museumgoers, regardless of their education in either Native or mainstream art, into a current discourse, seamlessly sewing the two together, rather than forging a distinction between the two. Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer is on view at the Denver Art Museum through August 12, 2018. A 144-page catalogue with 104 color illustrations is available through the museum shop. —Scott W. Hale
Rituals: Porfirio Gutiérrez Travois
N SOME CITIES , “First Fridays” means 15 people having glasses of Pinot on the deck of a museum. In Kansas City, First Fridays draws more than ten thousand art lovers from all socioeconomic classes who fill the streets and galleries with fashion and energy. Enriching the scene this year is Travois, which launched an exhibition program dedicated to Indigenous artists. Consulting firm Travois, founded by David Bland in 1995, is dedicated to housing and economic development for Indigenous communities. A panel of external jurors selected artists from an open call for this 2018 series. Architect Chris Cornelius (Oneida Nation) exhibited in March, and Rituals by textile artist Porfirio Gutiérrez (Zapotec) opened May 4. Gutiérrez is from Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca. Kevin Simpson featured Gutiérrez in “Zapotec Weaving: The Resurgence of a Cultural Artform” in issue No. 13 of this magazine. Gutiérrez’s solo show at Travois featured eight tapestries with geometric designs, ranging in size from 36-by-47-inches to 51-by-79 inches. In some ways the asymmetrical patterns and ranges in color are comparable to works by Anni Albers and Gunta Stölzl at the Bauhaus; however, Gutiérrez’s sources of inspiration are markedly Indigenous: basketry and petate. In his village, both are integral to everyday life. Baskets are used for everything: his mom takes one to market every morning, and his dad harvests corn with a basket. He used a petate as a bed, and his mother made food on another. Gutiérrez derives his tapestry designs from the woven patterns of these handmade objects. The series at Travois focuses specifically on the use of petate in everyday ceremonial life. Small, black silhouettes placed in front of each weaving give specific context to each design. His piece, Carding, features a herringbone
pattern in three hues of brown. The silhouettes accompanying this weaving depict two figures preparing wool. Two tones of indigo woven to form a stretched diamond pattern suggest a night sky in Blessings. Silhouettes of a man and woman kneeling indicate the work represents unification in marriage. Dreams is one of the most vibrant works in the exhibition. Primarily bright red, its diamond pattern is made asymmetrical with crimson and pink. Its label explains, “Before sleeping, one spreads on the ground the cradle of dreams that lulls people during the night; at dawn the mat is collected and with it the wrapped dreams that await the afternoon to keep dreaming.”
The weavings of the Gutiérrez family are distinctive because they are made with natural dyes, and few individuals in their community still use these. They create about 40 colors from just 10 elements. In his talk at the opening, the artist demonstrated how finely crushed cochineal insects create a vibrant, blood red. At times this pigment has been worth more than gold. Gutiérrez shared that many huge convents were funded this way. Through research at Smithsonian collections, Gutiérrez knows synthetic dyes were used before the 1930s. They brought prosperity to the community, but local knowledge was nearly lost, and he has made it his mission to revive and sustain these natural dyeing practices.
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The meaning and market value of the weavings have changed in different contexts over the decades. Mexico was the first country to complete its portion of the Pan-American Highway in 1950, which brought tourism to Oaxaca. Before this the Zapotec wove blankets, ponchos, and skirts for themselves and for trade. Development of a commercial market defined the weavings as rugs. Since perhaps the 1970s, some individual weavers have been occasionally recognized as artists who create tapestries on par with original paintings. Museums and private collectors seek out these works. Gutiérrez and other Indigenous artists honor their heritage and their ancestors by practicing long-established processes and passing knowledge to the next generation. Travois will continue to carry out a rigorous exhibition lineup as part of their commitment to invest in and promote Indigenous artists. Travois is building its own art collection with purchased and commissioned works from American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian artists, and encourages the Kansas City metro area to purchase work directly from artists featured in their
above Tony Abeyta (Navajo), Seeds, Simply Emerging, 2008, charcoal, ink wash on Belgium paper, mounted on canvas, micaceous clay, stone beads, 645/8 × 765/8 in., collection of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman, OK, James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection.
exhibitions.1 —Andrea L. Ferber, PhD
Seeds of Being Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
HE ARTWORK COLLECTED for this exhibition and displayed across three small galleries features mostly 20th- and 21st-century artwork from the James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection and the Rennard Strickland Collection. “The Seeds of Being galleries intersect as embodied spaces of cultural cultivation in visual art,” states Michelle J. Lanteri, one of the nine graduate student curators. She says the works chosen show how art-making remains a way “Indigenous artists honor, relate, and enact ways of knowing and being.” Seeds of Being 1. Eva Kathleen Schulte, Travois vice president for economic opportunity, email message to author, May 9, 2018.
features work from well-known artists such as Linda Lomahaftewa, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, T.C. Cannon, Fritz Scholder, Bob Haozous, Jeffrey Gibson, and many more. The eclectic works are organized under three themes: Nurturing, Adapting, and Envisioning, potentially reading as the past, present, and future. In the first gallery, the works are focused on the “Nurturing power of Indigenous symbols and storytelling.” An initial observation concerns the overall seeds-growth metaphor, which seems to presume a chronological aspect to the exhibition, with the presentation of art in one gallery acting as a forerunner to the art in the subsequent gallery. However, all the artwork and artists are roughly contemporaneous. The “nurturing” aspect does not correspond to the first stage of growth but rather to the visual representations of the cultural stories passed down to foster community relationships. Serving as the anchor piece to the entire exhibition is an artwork by Tony
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Abeyta (Navajo), Seeds, Simply Emerging (2008). The strategic placement of his charcoal-and-ink drawing allows visitors to see the large-scale work as they walk through the three galleries. The center of the work’s three panels is filled with abstracted and monochromatic forms. These biomorphic shapes appear in a cut-away view of the underground where seeds in various stages of germination will eventually break the surface at the top of the canvas. Narrow panels of micaceous clay embedded with sparkling stone beads, symbolizing earth and water feeding the seeds, flank each side of the drawing and give the viewer a sense of a magnified and microscopic view of a miraculous event. Another remarkable multimedia sculpture in the first galler y is Rochambeau (2013) by Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan-Arikara-Hidatsa-Lakota). It’s an unconventional, two-part sculpture made of ceramic, leather, paper, and steel, whose title is French for the game rock, paper, scissors. A ceramic boy
crouches, representing rock, attempting to disguise himself with a paper deer hide while holding the scissors. Beside him appears a majestic paper stag. Varying interpretations arise; one may view this as a hunting tableau vivant. However, the spiritual significance of the deer in certain tribes’ stories might lend different interpretations. The first gallery is filled with other artworks depicting the oral histories and stories of various Indigenous tribes, covering subjects such as the Mimbres Avanyu, the Ojibwe trickster Manabozho, Iñupiaq life, the Iroquois Nyah Gwaheh (Naked Bear), the Cherokee story of first fire, and more. These artworks represent cultural heroes and stories and how they nurture community relationships. In the second gallery, Adapting, visitors explore Indigenous artists’ use of experimental materials or customary media used in innovative ways. In his piece, Tricks and Unusual Gestures (2004), Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Choctaw-Cherokee) layers pigmented, sculpted silicon on top of the painted canvas to create three-dimensional effects reminiscent of 19th-century Hau d e n o s au n e e w h i m s i e s . T h e depiction of a sublime jungle landscape as a magnified microcosm and his use of metallic pigments give this piece a holographic, dreamlike quality. The only 19th-century piece featured in the show is a beaded Comanche lunch bucket, circa 1895. Though the artist and purpose have been lost to time, the viewer can imagine the intentions. The painstaking, exquisite beadwork adhered to a metal pail is a good example of how Native American communities were compelled to adapt (and resist) as the United States government practiced forced assimilation. In a palette of two shades of blue, black, pink, and green beads arranged in a geometric motif, the curators suggest that perhaps this piece might have been made by a mother for her child’s lunch pail, or for the art market. In Envisioning, the final gallery, artists address ongoing stereotypes of Indigenous peoples, and pieces are featured that show legacy. If the Abeyta artwork can be considered the
introduction to the exhibition, then perhaps Seed Pot (2012) by Amanda Lucario (Acoma Pueblo) can be regarded as the farewell in both its symbolism and physical position in front of the exit from the small galleries into the main museum corridor. The Acoma believe seed pots to “harbor intrinsic, life-giving powers and take on the attributes of whatever they hold.… The seed pot is used to store seeds for planting in the coming years, ensuring the community will have crops for future harvests …”1 This exhibition closes having symbolically acted as a seed pot, securing the seeds of art for the next generation. Seeds of Being is a project of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Native American Art and Museum Studies seminar, which provided nine graduate students with the rare opportunity to gain practical experience curating the exhibition under the supervision of heather ahtone (Choctaw-Chickasaw) and W. Jackson Rushing III. Dr. ahtone is the former James T. Bialac Associate Curator of Native American and Non-Western Art at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art (2012–2018) and is now the senior curator at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Dr. Rushing is presently the Eugene B. Adkins Presidential Professor of Art History and Mary Lou Milner Carver Chair in Native American Art at the University of Oklahoma. One student-curator, Kerrie Monahan, described the experience: “Curation is not a single-person or single-minded endeavor. Especially when working with Native material, … it is a process and it is a dialogue and balancing act between art, artist, community, scholarship, and a public audience.” The exhibition features 35 artworks and can be accessed on the main floor of the museum. Though the themes of nurturing, adapting, and envisioning are encapsulated, each gallery naturally opens to the next, allowing the visitor to easily flow between them and reflect, bringing the entire concept of growth and continuity into view. Complimentary, full-size, glossy catalogues are provided in the gallery, made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. —Mariah Ashbacher
1. Lauren Ross, “Seed Pot,” in Seeds of Being, ed. heather ahtone (Norman, OK: Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 2018), 48.
Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
FTER JUST A FEW STEPS inside the Nancy Johnston Records Gallery, Visual Vo i c e s : C o nt e m p o r a r y Chickasaw Art conveys expansiveness and elegance, beginning with its title wall’s generous scale that expresses the significance of this exhibition. While peering across the gallery’s sight lines, the artworks by 15 Chickasaw artists beckon to viewers, inviting extended attention and consideration. In its more than 65 works on view, Visual Voices activates one’s senses through intricate textures, varied color palettes, and powerful gestures. Through personal visions embodied by two- and three-dimensional artworks, this exhibition thematically reflects on the future of the Chickasaw people. Six years in the making, Visual Voices resulted from conversations initiated by Bill Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation, with several Chickasaw artists about increasing their visibility through recognition in the contemporary art world. Artists Margaret Roach Wheeler (ChickasawChoctaw), who inspired the exhibition logo, Joanna Underwood Blackburn (Chickasaw), who designed the exhibition graphics and catalogue, Brent Greenwood (Chickasaw-Ponca), Kristen Dorsey (Chickasaw), and Dan Worcester (Chickasaw) all answered the governor’s call to action. They held monthly meetings that gave way to jurying 15 artists into a group exhibition and collaborating with two curators, Dr. Manuela Well-Off-Man and Karen Whitecotton, and a project manager, Laura Marshall Clark (Muscogee), to lead Visual Voices to fruition in both gallery and catalogue forms. After its run at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the exhibition will tour to the Mississippi Museum of Art in 2019 and the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in 2020. The Chickasaw FALL 2018 | 87
Nation and National Endowment for the Arts awarded project grants to support the exhibition, and the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum provided assistance. Within the exhibition’s contexts of community, heritage, and seasons, a group of abstract paintings by Brenda Kingery (Chickasaw) carry the artist’s memories from the past to the present. These dense compositions radiate from their centers outward, calling works by Frank Stella and Yatika Fields (Osage-MuscogeeCherokee) to mind. Kingery’s style also intersects with the fragmentary nature of such techniques as analytic and synthetic Cubism, wherein memories represented materially overlap and interplay. Her work Watching Now (2015), an acrylic on canvas painting, reads much like a vibrant textile collage, while the visible grain of the canvas evokes the action-driven painting of both graffiti and Abstract Expressionism. From this intersection, Kingery’s brushstrokes fuse together, becoming a dynamic fabric that conjoins her recollections of various journeys. The painting serves as evidence of the artist’s experiences, addressing individual and collective histories in the crisscrossing of patterns that signify particular events, people, and places. The geometric and curvilinear forms keep one’s eyes searching through the painting, with more information revealed the longer one looks. Kingery’s Watching Now stays in swirling motion, refusing to resolve. Rather, the work reveals its complexity and continues to provoke questions in viewers. The Lady (2017), a fiber sculpture by artist Tyra Shackleford (Chickasaw), also inspires deeper inquiry from exhibition visitors. On loan from the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, this white, woven dress serves to remember a specific moment in the 16th century. With a regal presentation, The Lady, made of soy silk yarn, stands at least nine feet high and is framed by a purple backdrop and platform. Shackleford made this figurative work without a loom and employed fingerweaving, a Chickasaw legacy art form. The sculpture evidences the success of her ongoing efforts of reimagining this twining process, while paying homage
to a meeting in 1540 between the Lady of Cofitachequi and Hernando de Soto (Spanish, 1500–1542) in southeastern Turtle Island. The heroic scale of this dress exudes both the high status of this Indigenous woman and Shackleford’s fearlessness in her art practice. One could expect to see this artwork, with its cultural remembrance and stunning precision, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London or included in exhibitions like Dress Matters: Clothing as Metaphor (October 2017–February 2018), a group show curated by Dr. Julie Sasse for the Tucson Museum of Art. With abstraction as a major stylistic force in the exhibition, two sculptures by Paul C. Moore (Chickasaw), Hashi’at
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above Brent Greenwood (Chickasaw-Ponca), Gathering Medicine, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 40 × 30 in. Image courtesy of the artist.
Kochcha (2017) and Oka’ (2017), challenge viewers to interpret meaning from geometric shapes visually akin to the Minimalist art of the 1960s and 1970s. Like Shackleford, Moore’s works evoke heroism. His use of direct, spare forms presents audiences with moments of Chickasaw ways of life that reach from the past to the present. Hashi’at Kochcha, with its oblong wood frame wrapped in clear plastic, represents fishing weirs, or traps made of fencing or basket materials. With its Chickasaw title meaning “sunrise,” this artwork can be understood as an intergenerational bridge between Chickasaw people. While the wood framework alludes to the frame of a weir, the plastic creates a reference to both light reflection and water. Moore’s visual cue, indicating viscosity, creates a fluid transition to Oka’, which means “water” in Chickasaw. A short, tan rod with a dark-colored disc wrapped around it, this sculpture tributes chunkey, an outdoor game historically played by Eastern and Plains tribal nations, where players would throw a stick at a stone disc on the ground in hopes of the two game pieces touching. Through his distillation of form in both Hashi’at Kochcha and Oka’, Moore realized his individual interpretation of material culture objects in a fine art context. Moore’s style recalls the experimental sculptures in Cranbrook Ceramics +/-25, a 2016 group show curated by Drew Ippoliti and Jessika Edgar, that featured works by Cranbrook Academy of Art alumni and showed at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference, New Mexico State University Art Gallery, and Arizona State University Art Museum. Another sculpture that embodies courage, Water Jar (2017), a bronze work by Joanna Underwood Blackburn, exudes momentous strength and stability in its large scale. As an anchor point of Visual Voices, Water Jar honors women. It portrays a graceful female figure, with her eyes closed and abstracted arms flowing downwards into a spherical body. This blending of the female figure with a ceramic vessel shape describes the critical relationships between women, ceramic arts, sustenance, and survival. On the sides
of the woman’s arms and the front of her rounded body, incised designs inspired by Mississippian pottery and shell gorgets create a dialogue between the ancestral history and the present-day community of the Chickasaw Nation. The turtle at the front and center of the woman’s figure signifies Turtle Island as the time immemorial home to the Chickasaw Nation and the Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. Relating to artist Lorna Simpson’s photographic works that give voice to women as matriarchal leaders, Blackburn’s sculpture would be well suited to show at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. With an exciting mix of two- and three-dimensional artworks, Visual Voices: Contemporary Chickasaw Art offers viewers a memorable experience through a diversity of styles, media, and themes. The full roster of participating artists is Joanna Underwood Blackburn, Kristen Dorsey, Brent Greenwood, Bill Hensley, Norma Howard, Lisa Hudson, Brenda Kingery, Lokosh (Joshua D. Hinson), Dustin Mater, Paul C. Moore, Tyra Shackleford, Erin Shaw, Maya Stewart, Margaret Roach Wheeler, and Dan Worcester. From watercolor paintings of everyday life to politicized jewelry art, Visual Voices creates a mosaic of intergenerational experiences as vigorously expressed and recorded in visual form. —Michelle J. Lanteri
T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America Peabody Essex Museum
T’S SURPRISING TO ME when people aren’t familiar with T.C. Cannon. For Native painters in Oklahoma, he is it—our inspiration, our hero. He’s also deeply loved in New Mexico. However, his work seldom comes up for auction, his art career—and life—ended when he was only 31, and, before 2017, his last major museum exhibition was in 1990. A new generation within the art world is fortunate to have not one but two T.C. Cannon exhibitions: Of God
and Mortal Men: Masterworks by T.C. Cannon from the Nancy and Richard Bloch Collection at the Heard Museum, and the Peabody Essex Museum’s T.C. Cannon: At the Edge America, curated by Karen Kramer, Peabody Essex’s curator of Native American and Oceanic art and culture. Both shows have accompanying catalogues, and At the Edge of America is at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and will travel on to the National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center. While Of God and Mortal Men featured finished paintings, At the Edge of America presents Cannon as a musician and poet as well as a visual artist. Along with 30 major paintings and 90 works in total, the exhibition features poetry— original versions, massive wall text, a sound recording of prominent Native writers reading Cannon’s works aloud, and poetic responses by celebrated authors such as Joy Harjo (Muscogee-Cherokee), Cannon’s classmate at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). Honoring his musical pursuits, Kramer displayed T.C. Cannon’s guitar at the starting point of the exhibition. A listening station allows visitors to hear rare recordings of Cannon singing and playing music from his playlist of folk, rock, and country music. Kramer commissioned Choctaw singer-songwriter Samantha Crain to write two songs in response to two Cannon paintings, which are played in the gallery on an endless loop without pause. The galleries are also filled with photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, even Cannon’s military medals, which help flesh out his biography and provide more points of entry for an uninitiated audience: the sixties, Bob Dylan, the Civil Rights Movement, the seventies, the Vietnam War. These common touchstones position Cannon within the familiar narrative of America, but he was his own person and quickly deviated from stereotypes of the era. For instance, he dropped out of the San Francisco Art Institute and enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve in Vietnam. He later joined the Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society. His work is filled with respect and affection for his family, tribal community, and religious practices. He FALL 2018 | 89
“I was to live long enough to make some good art and good music.…” was clear about the latter, as his quote in the catalogue reveals: “I was to live long enough to make some good art and good music, my passions are directed towards those two poles, everything else, with the exception of god, is irrelevant.” Reading responses to the show so far, I can’t help but notice non-Native critics are struggling with words about the customary clothing worn by Cannon’s sitters (they might be surprised to know that at dances people still dress like Cannon’s subjects even today). They definitely would not be able to come to grips with his overtly religious subject matter, most prominent in the imposing work, Epochs in Plains History: Mother Earth, Father Sun, the Children Themselves (1976–77), on loan from the Daybreak Star Cultural Center in Seattle. The 22-foot mural doesn’t portray a linear history per se—migration and the Indian Wars are referenced—but primarily focuses on celestial and spiritual movements. A dynamic and commanding Mother figure brings forth the buffalo, including a sacred white buffalo calf. In the final section, a radiating, geometric sun based on Plains women’s hide paintings presides over a
lodge circle. A Sun dancer faces the sun, as he blows an eagle bone whistle while dancing with pierced nipples as part of his life-renewing, personal sacrifice. Below, a peyote roadman crouches on the ground with a gourd rattle while two black tips imply the horns of a buffalo skull altar. Dancing off the right side of the picture plane, shaking a rattle, is a Gourd dancer—possibly modeled on Cannon’s IAIA classmate, Vietnam veteran, and lifelong friend, Sherman Chaddlesone (1947–2013)—in 1970s clothing. Cannon painted this tour de force toward the end of his brief life. Amid the reconciled, completed works are the sketches, doodles, and unfinished works that revealed his process. Early works reveal his experimentation and risk-taking that led to his resolved works. Kramer reproduced Cannon’s notebook and displayed pages on shelves while providing visitors space to contribute drawings in supplied blank books. The dizzying array of finished works, unfinished works, sketches, poems, letters, and doodles almost gives one the feeling of being in the artist’s studio—except the gallery space was far too clean—so perhaps a lab or incubator. While the show celebrates the life and work of T.C. Cannon, it’s also a celebration of the creative process—and actively invites viewers to follow their own creative pursuits. I wonder how many people left the exhibition freshly inspired to draw, compose, or sing? My hope is this exhibition will influence emerging Native
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painters to be open to what is possible with incredible brushwork, composition, texture, and, of course, color. For his iconic portraits, Cannon had to seek out the 19th-century photographs he used as source material for portraits, as his late classmate Bill Soza Warsoldier (Cahuilla-Apache, 1949–2014) told me in 2008. With these photographs now available at a keystroke, it’s hard to imagine them being obscure or difficult to obtain. Cannon transformed his source material; he didn’t simply copy it. He was open about his admiration of artists and musicians such as Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Bob Dylan, Vincent van Gogh, and Lee Tsatoke (Kiowa, 1929–1985). As curator Karen Kramer writes in her catalogue essay, “His work also played off aspects of others, but his creative output is his individual composite of identity, worldview, and message, and a style all his own.” IAIA’s early years, and T.C. Cannon in particular, heralded the burgeoning postmodernism movement. It stands to reason that it would come from outside the major art centers since postmodernism was the act of shattering the grand narrative and making room for plural histories and perspectives. Yet Cannon was at the cusp. His work was still very much about the medium itself, a modernist approach to art. When he paints, he throws himself into brushstrokes, layering, texture, and vibrancy of juxtaposed hues. When he
draws, he focuses on value shifts, negative space, and mark making. In watercolors, he highlights the transparent qualities, the fades of wet-on-wet brushwork, the delicacy and fragility of the thin layers on paper. In printmaking, he leaves traces of the carved linoleum and wood in the negative space, and when working with Japanese woodblock carver Kentaro Maeda and master printmaker Matashiro Uchikawa, Cannon elected to leave the color sequencing marks visible on the finished prints. He vigorously threw himself into the technical and material limitations and strengths of each medium in a way that simply isn’t valued or discussed in today’s art world, where it’s standard practice for a major artist to hire a team to conduct the business of actual art making. The Kiowa artist’s career coincided with the heyday of Conceptual Art, in which the idea is seen as more important than the process or finished artwork. As heather ahtone (Choctaw-Chickasaw) suggests in her catalogue essay, Cannon was familiar with the movement and even referenced Joseph Kosuth, a leading conceptualist, in the linocut print Big Soldier (1971). Today the mainstream art world is much more receptive to painting—even figurative painting— thanks in part to German artist Gerhard Richter, who “saved” painting. Thanks so much to Karen Kramer for putting in years of research and negotiations to bring these works together and share them with these three venues. I eagerly await the public reception for T.C. Cannon: At the Edge of America when it travels to New York, where Cannon can follow in the footsteps of Horace Poolaw (Kiowa, 1906–1984) and win a new audience over to the possibilities of Native art. At the Edge of America will remain on view at the Gilcrease through October 7, 2018, and the George Gustav Heye Center will host the exhibition from March 16 through September 16, 2019. —America Meredith Nota bene: I wrote four object entries for this exhibition but was not involved with or privy to the curatorial and installation processes of this show.
Memory Weaving: Works by Melanie Yazzie Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
INÉ PRINTMAKER, SCULPTOR , AND ART PROFESSOR Melanie Yazzie’s artwork is cumulative. She crafts loose stories by layering materials and ideas, one atop another. In that sense, her works on paper are akin to the strata of the earth, the bands of the past always surfacing within the present. The exhibition inhabits several galleries of the institution with a staggering 60 works on
above Melanie Yazzie (Diné), Springtime at Red Lake, 2007, acrylic on canvas, collection of Charles Deadman. opposite T. C. Cannon (KiowaCaddo, 1946–1978), Epochs in Plains History: Mother Earth, Father Sun, the Children Themselves (1976–77), oil on canvas, 22 feet long, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, Seattle, Washington. ©2017 Estate of T. C. Cannon. Photo: Gary Hawkey/iocolor.
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paper, as well as her small selection of bronze dogs. The title of Yazzie’s exhibition Memory Weaving: Works by Melanie Yazzie (May 13 to October 7, 2018), is apropos, bearing forth the play between now and then, stratum and surface, foreground and background. In fact, Memory Weaving comes from a conversation Yazzie had with a grandmother who once said that she wove memories. Yazzie is not a weaver in the literal or conventional sense, but I gather that for her, weaving memories together from the complexity of history and personal experience can come in nearly any media. To weave is to create. Her monotypes, which make up the majority of the artworks on view, appear like cutout pieces of batik fabric arranged against colored and sometimes plain grounds. In other pieces, she paints or draws atop a previously printed surface. The bronzes have a similar appeal as her works on paper, with a more obvious sense of humor, as in Simon Joe Benally is Looking for a Rich Girlfriend, an indigo canine whose tongue flaps goofily in the wind.
Yazzie makes it clear that she does not discount the process or possibility of healing. To begin, Memory Weaving takes us back to a painting Yazzie did at age three of an elephant awash in purple, blue, and ochre. The opening narration speaks of the young (proto) artist and her first happy encounter with making. As the show unspools, the writing in the text panels shifts from a curatorial voice to Yazzie’s own voice; the artist’s deft words become the compass for the entire exhibition. That voice contributes to a sense of clarity and personal humor, but also provides an intimacy with each object. In a more poignant way, the gesture of allowing both Yazzie’s words and visual art to resonate, as if on separate but connected wavelengths, is profound. She is the primary speaker in both languages, amounting to a doubling of self-representation. Professor and head
of printmaking in the department of art and art history at University of Colorado, Boulder, Yazzie does not necessarily explain so much as muse, touching upon childhood bullies, as well as the animals she grew up around. “Many of the cats and dogs I grew up with,” she explains, “were inbred. Sometimes they’d have an extra foot or an extra toe—they were very odd little creatures. They’ve inspired a lot of my work.” This is a telling entrée into the exhibition—through her very own odd little creatures. Each is a hybrid animal being, with a funny mundane name; each is a dweller within Yazzie’s story world. Looking closely, these animals and other forms, like a spiral and a silhouette of a woman with a butterfly whorl hairstyle, recur in Yazzie’s oeuvre. The spiral brings to mind the history of petroglyphs, especially the famed Sun Dagger on Fajada Butte and its reference to the passing of time, the sun, the marks of cosmology, and the historic peoples who have stewarded the Southwest. These works are not landscapes per se, but her way of mark-making draws out questions of land use, occupation, and territoriality, settling somewhere between places near and far and selfhood. “My grandmother would always talk about how sand paintings and different imagery from home for ceremonial things is very important, and should be kept in that sacred space.… I have references to things from home that represent those special sacred beings, but I am not using things directly.” Her beings, some with names she may have heard growing up, are a vernacular counterpart, faceted, and in some cases almost completely abstract. In a meditation on her own experience with type 2 diabetes, lines abound—“riverways,” as Yazzie calls them—like arteries in an indefinite body. There are numbers, too, references to her own blood sugar levels. For many Indigenous people and people of color, the history of colonialism and its deterioration of Indigenous foodways, including agriculture and hunting practices, have adversely affected personal and collective health. Yazzie makes it clear that she does not discount the process or possibility of healing. Going to France Was Important
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was one of several paintings Yazzie made while in France after hearing a diagnosis that she might have cancer. The series, she says, is an act of creating to heal herself and a meditation on her body. Toward the end of the exhibition, her printmaking tools are included alongside a reference to Yazzie’s preference for non-toxic paint. Memory Weaving shows just how prolific Yazzie is. The work, moreover, is not arranged chronologically, which creates a far more compelling dialogue across time and media. In the sheer number of examples included, it appears that Yazzie makes, and makes freely. The show feels joyful and honest in that way, because nowhere is there inhibition or pretense. All aspects of life, including childhood pets, are subjects. More than that, the aspect of creating work about being Diné rings throughout. In some cases, I suspect those references to culture are only for those who have the knowledge to see them. Still, her work has the capacity to yield interpretations for nearly everyone who spends time with it. —Alicia Inez Guzmán, PhD
Peshlakai Vision Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
HE SOURCE,” Norbert Peshlakai (Navajo) tells viewers, “is out there in the natural world.” A silversmith of 46 years, Peshlakai has long incorporated his surroundings into his precious metal artistry. Rabbits, horses, bison, quail, owls, butterflies, deer, turtles, fish, and even the occasional cowboy show up in his work, mostly in the form of stamps. Peshlakai estimates that he has 300 handmade stamps in total, each formed from a humble concrete nail. To make “Cowboy Slim,” a character based on a figure the artist knew in the past, Peshlakai uses seven different stamps. Part by part, the figure is built with different and individual stamped shapes, each requiring a unique strike with the hammer against the metal. Like building blocks, then, his stamps are modular and, when
added together, create various different combinations, including the silhouette of Cowboy Slim. Peshlakai Vision is on view from May 13 to October 7, 2018, in the Schultz Gallery of the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. Curated by the museum’s Case Trading Post manager, Kenneth Williams Jr. (Northern ArapahoSeneca), this exhibition is Peshlakai’s first ever solo show, a far overdue expression for an artist who has been creating art for more than half of his life. Peshlakai Vision spans most of its namesake’s career, much like a late career retrospective, if somewhat smaller. The benefit of this approach is that it provides a breadth of work that can only come with time, showing both the constancy of Peshlakai’s craft and his evolution as an artist. Across the board, each of Peshlakai’s adornments—jewelry, belt buckles, and bolos—and his miniature silver seed pots tug at viewers’ attention, encouraging them to look closely and fix their gaze on the precision of artwork produced on the scale of only a few millimeters. Featured in a video just outside the gallery, Peshlakai speaks about his process, how he came to be an artist, the tools he uses, and the alphabet he invented. Insights from others, such as Peshlakai’s daughter, wife, nephew, and friends are also included. In the short looping film, it becomes evident that the vision that marks the title of the show is indeed expressed in Peshlakai’s artwork. Everything revolves around him. But the artist’s vision is two-fold: while focusing on him, it also revolves around the entire Peshlakai family, many of whom produce artwork in their own right. Works by his wife, Linda, and his children, Aaron Peshlakai and Natasha Peshlakai-Haley, round out the exhibition, emphasizing, without being too heavy-handed, the significance of intergenerational creative practices. Within the Schultz gallery, the artwork is complemented by spare text that is quite evidently derived from conversations with Peshlakai himself. As such, his presence is felt throughout, and so is his sense of humor. Woof ’s Catch, for instance, is a silver mokume-gane pin with a glasses-wearing dog, paws happily splayed, catching a Frisbee. Peshlakai’s
above Norbert Peshlakai (Diné), top Silver Belt Buckle, 2005, sterling silver, 31/2 in. W; lower, left I’m Tired of Being Treated Like a Piece of Meat, sterling silver, 31/2 in. W; lower, right Silver belt buckle with Coral, 2⁹/₁₀ in. W. Photo: Addison Doty.
series of commissioned belt buckles show his ability to tailor images specific to fisherman, birders, engineers, and even an orthopedic surgeon. Elsewhere, Peshlakai introduces turquoise, agate, coral, sugilite, jet, spiny oyster, ironwood, ivory repurposed from a piano key, and gold into his silver works, each facet always complemented with his signature stampwork. The artist’s ingenuity is best seen in an alphabet he created between 1999 and 2000. For the letter H, there is a hogan. The letter D is represented by a drum, while Y is shown as a symbol that elicits what was then an impactful moment for the artist and world: Y2K. In the video, Peshlakai says in that a friend brought him Egyptian hieroglyphics to look at, and after seeing them he began to invent his own system of letters. I almost wished that, like hieroglyphics, the artist’s alphabet had been featured on one of the exhibition’s walls from start to finish, A to Z. Perhaps, the alphabet is meant to feel like a secret, as if letters the artist stamps and the words they make up are hidden in plain sight—there, but only evident if
you know how to detect them. That is, if you’re looking closely, truly seeking the vision, you might be able to read what you see. But if not, you may only see abstract shapes floating in simple but beautiful patterns. Indeed, this is the most joyful aspect of Peshlakai’s work—the interplay between what might be considered the surface value and the somewhat more latent meaning: the stories and references to place and his surroundings in Dinétah that begin to emerge only when one knows where and how to look. Finally, in an inset glass window, a photograph of Peshlakai, made almost to human scale, is presented as if the artist is in his workshop. His apron, sewn from the iconic fabric of Cortez Milling Co.’s Blue Bird Flour bags, hangs nearby. His hat is placed on a stool, and a bench bearing a few tools is perched just below. Anywhere else, a near–full size picture of an artist could be seen as self-serving, even cheesy. But it works here because, like his art, Peshlakai appears light-hearted, smiling as if there might be a joke in the air, one that viewers may or may not be privy to. —Alicia Inez Guzmán, PhD FALL 2018 | 93
SPOTLIGHT: PROTECT, HONOR, CHERISH
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Jamie Okuma (Luiseño-Shoshone-Bannock), Protect, Honor, Cherish, 2018, deer hide, glass beads, wood, metal beads, shell beads, sequins, hand-cut dentalium shells, hair, shell, metal coins, rawhide, ermine, wool, silk ribbon, collection of the Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ, 4924-1, gift of Kathleen L. and William G. Howard and the Heard Museum Council. Photo: Craig Smith, Heard Museum.
AMIE OKUMA began her artistic journey at an early age when she made her first powwow dress at five years old. This early foray into art blossomed, and she soon began to make dance clothes for others. But her earliest recognition in the art world came when she began to create her highly detailed, soft sculptures she referred to as “my little people.” Okuma’s mixed-media sculptures demonstrated the skills she had honed making dance regalia, but now her works of art were on a miniature scale. Yet they lost none of the detail. Historical accuracy, exemplary workmanship, and keen attention to detail became important hallmarks of her sculptures, which can take up to six months to complete. Accolades and recognition soon followed, and at age 22, she became the youngest artist to be awarded Best of Show at Santa Fe Indian Market in 2000. She was honored again with this award in 2002 and 2012. Like most artists, Okuma’s work evolved over time, and she eventually branched out into the world of high fashion, designing couture and readyto-wear pieces. Like her sculptures, her clothing designs are detailed and complex. Despite her success in this new artistic space, she returned to her original artistic medium when she created Protect, Honor, Cherish, which won Best of Show at the 60th annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market. Reflecting on her return to this form of artistic expression, she said, “As I started working on the micros again after six years, I felt whole again. They healed me in a way I could not have imagined. During this process, I concluded that while stepping back from what I was gifted with was okay, it cannot be neglected for too long. I must protect, honor, and cherish the gifts I have as an artist.” Made with deer hide, glass beads, wood, metal beads, shell beads, sequins, hand-cut dentalium shells, hair, shell, metal coins, rawhide, ermine, wool, and silk ribbon, the artist is concerned with
the quality of each element in every sculpture she creates. Okuma uses only the finest materials, including brain-tanned buckskin and antique seed beads from France, Italy, and the Czech Republic. Protect, Honor, Cherish is an artistic tour de force in its use of materials and its construction, but its significance can also be found in the sculpture’s cultural meaning. It depicts a Shoshone mother dressed in full regalia holding her child in a fully beaded cradleboard. As Okuma has stated, “Protect is literally the function of the cradleboard. Its work and design were created in such a way because of the great love for our children; so we cherish this stage in life and honor it with a functional piece of incredible art.” The mother is dressed in meticulously constructed clothing from head to toe. Okuma has elaborately embellished it with seed beads, bugle beads, dentalium shells, and sequins as leather fringes dangle from her yoke. Beneath her yoke she wears a shirt of gold brocade, and fully beaded cuffs adorn her forearms. A decorative, twined bag hangs at her right
side; a twined purse on her right wrist. Her earrings made from shell and gold beads give way to the long braids that drape across her yoke as they frame her elaborate necklace. Her hat replicates the woven hats historically worn by Shoshone women. From beneath her green woolen skirt edged with ribbon and micro-sequins, the mother wears red leggings with an elaborate design of abstract floral motifs. The regalia is completed with moccasins encrusted with seed beads of turquoise, pink, green, red, and gold. The baby is swaddled in its cradleboard. The crimson tulip floral motifs of the carrier are set against a field of pastel-pink seed beads. Two hummingbirds hover above the flowers as if also keeping a watchful eye over the child. The mother’s face, although featureless except for a nose, is directed toward the carrier, providing the viewer with a sense that the mother is looking at her child with love and affection as this interaction reflects the title of the sculpture to Protect, Honor, Cherish. —Denise Neil-Binion, PhD
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THE PERILS OF EXHIBITING CONTEMPORARY NATIVE AMERICAN ART WITH EDWARD CURTIS By Suzanne Newman Fricke, PhD
HE THOUGHT PROCESS is easy to follow. Museums look through their collections and rediscover their photographs by Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868–1952), especially now with 2018 marking the 150-year anniversary of his birth. For over six decades, Curtis shot thousands and thousands of images of Native Americans, which have been collected by museums across the world. As curators begin to organize exhibitions, they have to face the ways in which Curtis is problematic. He photographed Native Americans because he believed in the idea of the “vanishing race,” which was, not coincidentally, the title of one of his most famous works. Taken in 1904, The Vanishing Race—Navaho depicts a line of horseback riders headed toward a mesa in a grainy, filmic haze. As the title suggests, this is the beginning of the end, a race literally moving into the background, a self-imposed exile. He often has his sitters posed in three-quarter profile looking out into the distance as though already disengaged from the world. In addition, he manipulated the images by removing all elements of the 20th century and was known to have brought clothing, regalia, and other items to have his sitters wear, whether part of their culture or not. If a museum wants to show the work of Curtis, then it needs to mediate the artist’s message and offer a Native perspective. The obvious solution has been to exhibit Curtis with contemporary Native American arts. Larry McNeil (Tlingit-Nisga’a), professor of
photography at Boise State University, observed, “Museums want to show Curtis’s work, yet they realize it would be insensitive to show it without something modern. It’s a natural impulse.”1 This solution dates back to past exhibits, as in Native Nations: Journeys in American Photography at the Barbican Art Gallery in London in 1998 and 1999, where the contemporary section was co-curated by Theresa Harlan (Kewa-Jemez) and Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Diné-SeminoleMuscogee), and includes the work of McNeil, Tsinhnahjinnie, Will Wilson (Diné), and others. In 2016, the Portland Art Museum (PAM) also used this approach for Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy: Zig Jackson,
Wendy Red Star, Will Wilson, curated by Native art curator Deana Dartt (Coastal Band Chumash) and curator of photography Julia Dolan. Dartt underscores possible benefits to this approach, observing that including a familiar name like Curtis’s would bring in more visitors to see the work of contemporary Native artists. “Our visitorship is largely clueless about contemporary Native American life and thinks that the body of Curtis’s work is the end-all be-all representation of Indians.… They have no idea that Native peoples are alive and well and still very much rooted in their culture and are dynamic, modern people, so we have to unpack these issues for them.”2 For Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson at the Seattle Art Museum, June 14 through September 9, 2018, curator Barbara Brotherton suggests another benefit. She worked with an advisory committee that included many Native artists for a show intended to recontextualize Curtis.3 Accompanied by 150 images by Curtis shown with work of contemporary Native artists, the exhibition was designed to “examine Edward Curtis’s legacy with a fresh lens, to learn from and contend with his images, and then to move forward.… [Curtis’s] photographs still occupy a powerful place in the American consciousness. I hope that in another one hundred years his pictures will be a distant memory, replaced by new visions of Indigenous identity created within our own communities.”4
1. Larry McNeil in discussion with the author, July 24, 2016. 2. Dalton Walker, “Beyond Curtis,” Native Peoples 29, no. 2 (March–April 2016): 58. While the Portland Art of Museum in Oregon held a Curtis show in 2016, the Portland Museum of Art in Maine showcased Edward Curtis: Selections from The North American Indian. 3. The advisory committee included Charlotte Coté (Tseshaht-Nuu-chah-nulth); Jarrod Da (San Ildefonso Pueblo); Colleen Echohawk (Pawnee-Ahtna Athabascan); Andy Everson (K’ómoks); Jason Gobin (Tulalip); Darrell Hillaire (Lummi); Madrienne Salgado (Muckleshoot); Lydia Sigo (Suquamish); Asia Tail (Cherokee Nation); and Ken Workman (Duwamish) 4. “Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson,” Seattle Art Museum, accessed October 31, 2016, web.
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These are certainly advantages to showing Curtis with contemporary Native artists, yet there is a problem. While the comparison is not necessarily apt, it is visually effective and a popular solution. “So many people love Curtis’s work and rightfully so,” says McNeil. “You look at his work and there is beauty in it. Maybe Curtis photographed their great-grandfather and now they have this stunningly beautiful photograph. He was very fastidious in making his prints. There’s a beauty and reality there. How could you be critical of the quality when it is so beautiful? Then again, we know the flip side. It’s a mixed bag.”5 Will Wilson also expresses a certain appreciation for Curtis and his work while acknowledging problems. “I’m not vehemently opposed to Curtis. He had an incredible devotion to what he did. He suffered to make that crazy body of work. Yet he needs to be problematized. People are dusting off their Curtises and trying to figure out what to do with them. They always need the Native response.”6 In 2011, Matika Wilbur started Project 562, for which the SwinomishTulalip photographer will travel to all 562 (now 573) tribes in the United States and do portraits of tribal members. All too often she is called “The Modern-Day Curtis,” a description that makes Wilbur “want to throw up.”7 She acknowledges the value of Curtis’s work, that he was a skilled technician, and that his images have preserved the faces and the arts of the tribes, yet she argues that his work has caused harm to Native communities. Wilbur wrote on her blog, “The danger in ‘Curtis’[s] Legacy,’ despite its incidental (and unintended) cultural preserve, lies in his lasting effects on our collective consciousness. If you Google ‘Native American’ right now you will find an historical Curtis image.… His images have imprinted our minds; we think that the ‘Curtis Indian’ is what ‘Real Indians’ are supposed to look like. This is damaging in so many ways … What
above Larry McNeil (Tlingit-Nisa’a), Real Indians, 1977, platinum photograph, 40 × 28 in. Image courtesy of the artist. opposite Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868–1952), Self Portrait, 1899, gelatin silver print, 10 × 71/16 in. Public domain.
happens when Native kids can’t relate to or meet others’ expectations of ‘real Indian-ness’? How can we be seen as modern, successful people when we are still viewed as one-dimensional stereotypes?”8 Showing artists like McNeil, Wilson, and Wilbur next to Curtis creates an unfair comparison since Curtis’s sepia-toned nostalgia already occupies a place in the American psyche. Teresa Harlan states, “The weight and girth of early photographic representations of Indigenous people of North America still occupy the minds and imaginations of 21st-century non-Natives, so that most still look to Edward Sheriff Curtis for images of North American Indians. This
leaves little room for 21st-century Native photographers and their imaginations.”9 There seems to be a Catch-22: museums show Curtis’s work because audiences expect it, but audiences expect to see his work because museums show him. Until curators, critics, and historians separate Native photography from Edward Curtis, it will be impossible to fully appreciate Native aesthetics. If museums want to show their collection of Curtis photographs, he should be displayed with his true contemporaries, other non-Native artists who depicted Native life in the early 20th century. Contemporary Native American photography and art is strong enough to show without Curtis. This cycle needs to be broken.
5. Will Wilson in discussion with the author, July 24, 2016. 6. Will Wilson in discussion with the author, 2014. 7. Matika Wilbur, “Edward Curtis … AGAIN?,” From the Road: Project562 Blog, May 2018, web. 8. Ibid. 9. Theresa Harlan, “Indigenous Photographies: A Space for Indigenous Realities,” in Native Nations: Journeys in American Photography, ed. Jane Alison, (London: Barbican Art Gallery, 1998), 233.
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Wasauksing Ojibwe Author & Journalist
WAUBGESHIG RICE By Matthew Ryan Smith, PhD
AUBGESHIG RICE, a member of Wasauksing First Nation in central Ontario, began his career in journalism at age 17 after participating in an exchange program in Northern Germany when he wrote about being an Anishinaabe traveling abroad. Rice graduated from Ryerson University’s journalism program in 2002, and in 2006 he began working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Winnipeg. Along with news reporting, he produces television, radio documentaries, and features for a national audience. Rice currently works as a regional reporter for CBC News in Sudbury, Ontario. Theytus Books published his fictional teenage writings as the collection Midnight Sweatlodge (2011), which won the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Adult Multicultural Fiction’s Gold Medal in 2012. In the summer of 2014, Theytus Books published Rice’s debut novel, Legacy. In 2014, the Anishinabek Nation gave Rice their Debwewin Citation for Excellence in First Nation Storytelling. MRS: How did growing up in Wasauksing First Nation influence your writing and journalism? WR: Growing up in Wasauksing helped make me a storyteller. It’s a community rich with artists and a strong connection to the Anishinaabe way of life. I learned about my culture and my people’s history through stories from elders beginning at a pretty early age. Even in elementary school on the rez, our teachers would set aside time for elders to come in and sit us in a circle to tell us Nanabush stories or share family or community history. All of that taught me about the importance of taking time to listen to people and how crucial it is to remember the details and feelings of stories if I were to pass them on myself. Most importantly, I learned about being humble and respectful while engaging in stories and with the people who share them. I try to carry myself in an honorable and sensitive way thanks to that upbringing. I apply that to my writing every day. Your first collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, tells the story of family members, friends, and acquaintances who participate in a healing ceremony. Why this story as your first publication, and what was the response? The original short stories that eventually became the Midnight Sweatlodge collection were written when I was a teenager in Wasauksing. Those stories were inspired by a lot of the things
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I saw going on around me growing up on the rez. I discovered writing in high school, and it became my creative outlet when I was bored at home. Even though it was more or less a hobby, I dreamed of one day becoming a published author. I put that on hold, though, as I went to university for journalism and pursued that career. But thanks to the encouragement of friends and other writers I’d become acquainted with over the years, I revisited some of those stories in my mid-20s and decided to try to find a way to get them published. They were narratives about the young Anishinaabe experiences, and I really wanted to share them with other Indigenous youth on Turtle Island. I got a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to revise them and tie them together, and fortunately I ended up connecting with Theytus Books, who put out the collection in 2011.
shared struggle bonds Indigenous peoples, and a reader can feel like they’re part of something when even the smallest point hits home. I try to express this by being as concise and inclusive as possible when sharing these truths. That means listening effectively and understanding fully before I write anything. What is your writing philosophy? To be honest: honest to myself and to the people who read what I write. I feel that I should only write what I know. That way I’m true to the story, to my community, and most of all, to the reader. It’s all about being respectful and sincere. Can you talk about the intersections between creative writing and journalism? Do they harmonize and differ? Can you draw from one to influence another? I get this question a lot, and I used to respond with an analogy that I now think is a little cheesy. I used to say writing fiction and writing for the news are like swinging a baseball bat and swinging a golf club—you’re using a lot of the same muscles and motions, but you’re using different tools for different results. But now I think it’s a lot simpler than that. With journalism, your job as a writer is to make readers care about real people, and with fiction you have to make real people care about made-up people. Either has its own challenges and benefits. But at the core of each is understanding the human condition and how people feel and interact with each other. If anything, I think my creative writing benefits from my journalism work because of the real people I meet out in the field doing news stories. As a journalist … [I’m] exposed to so much emotion and character on any assignment. above Cover of Moon of the Crusted Snow (ECW Press, 2018). opposite Waubgeshig Rice. Both images courtesy of the author.
The response was greater than I could have imagined. I thought I’d have one book launch, a few people would buy it, and that’d be it. I’d have fulfilled my dream of becoming an author. But word spread, thanks in large part to social media, and I was invited to literary festivals and events across the country. I heard from a lot of people who said the stories really resonated with them and inspired them to connect with their culture and communities. That’s the greatest praise I could ever receive. In many ways, your writing is much like your journalistic work—raw, uncompromising, and frank. How do you express truth in writing, and why is unrestrained truth so important today? Unrestrained truth is so important because many people are still learning about the Indigenous experiences on this land and the history of the settler countries’ treatment of the original people who lived here. Colonialism continues to have devastating impacts on our communities, and it’s crucial to paint a comprehensive and detailed picture of how that happens. Those candid and honest details also help Indigenous people understand themselves and the history of their nations. I think that
Editor Susan Renouf, who worked with me on my forthcoming novel, helped me tighten up some of my fiction writing by drawing on my newswriting skills. It’s a punchier, more efficient writing style that I think suits the fast-paced story really well. So that’s probably how I’ll write going forward. I still consider myself an emerging writer who’s finding his voice, and I think it’s starting to come together. Your book, Legacy, is about the violence inflicted on a young Indigenous woman and its effects on an Anishinaabe family living in Ontario during the 1990s. This is an important book because today, confidence in the Government of Canada’s public inquiry of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is deteriorating. It’s been four years since Legacy was first published. Has your response to it changed? And how have audiences responded to it today, considering the inquiry? That’s a little hard to answer because I often find it difficult to revisit Legacy. It could be because so many families continue to struggle with these tragedies and many will never see justice for the women who were taken from them. The story was inspired by resilient family members I met as a journalist who were committed to sharing the stories of the loved ones they lost FALL 2018 | 99
[through violence]. It was also inspired by my own family’s experience of honoring and remembering my aunt Marion who was killed by a man in 1979, shortly before I was born. Still, I’m thankful that Legacy has resonated with many readers over the years. I’m not sure how that has changed in light of some of the issues going on with the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. But the stories of victims and families should be continuously centered in all these discussions. They’re the most important, and there’s still an immense deal that this country needs to learn about these ongoing tragedies. I support those strong and resilient family members who bravely share their heartbreak and strength in front of us all. How do fiction and nonfiction—creative writing and the events of history— influence the other in your writing, and where is the crossover point? Current and historical events inspire almost everything in my fiction, quite honestly. I only write about Anishinaabe characters, communities, and experiences. To be Indigenous in what is now Canada is to be shaped and identified by colonial history, sadly. Everything we are today is a result of how our ancestors were brutalized by oppressive regimes whose motives were to erase our culture. To properly do an Indigenous character justice in fiction, you have to provide that historical context.… I think it’s essential to make space for those real events that
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resulted in complex, fictional, Indigenous characters. In that sense, the crossover point is the beginning. Can you tell us about your new book? It’s called Moon of the Crusted Snow, and it’ll be published by ECW Press in October. It’s about an apocalyptic event from the perspective of a northern Anishinaabe community. It loses power and communication just as winter begins, becoming cut off from towns and cities to the south. Then unexpected visitors arrive from the south to escape a crumbling society, creating unrest and fear. A group of young people try to restore order while wrestling with some difficult decisions. It’s a thriller of sorts, and it’s also an allegory of colonial history. I’ve always found post-apocalyptic stories in books, movies, and comics really compelling. But I always wanted to see one done through an Indigenous lens. I started thinking about writing my own after reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. But instead of dwelling on the despair and darkness of an apocalypse, I wanted to explore how it can be an opportunity for renewal. Also, Indigenous nations in North America have already survived apocalyptic events. It was an exciting opportunity to explore some really captivating themes. At first I thought it would only be a short story, but it quickly became a novella and eventually a novel. It’s the most fun I’ve had writing fiction.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MEXICAN ART By Andrea L. Ferber, PhD
above Entrance of the National Museum of Mexican Art. All images courtesy of the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL.
VIBRANTLY COLORED MURAL with intricate patterns draws one in to the first gallery of the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) in Chicago. The New Awakening (2003), by Santos Motoapohua de la Torre de Santiago (Huichol) and seven assistants, is comprised of 80 11⁴⁄₅-by-11⁴⁄₅inch panels covered in over 1.5 million two-millimeter chaquira glass beads held by Campeche wax on plywood.1 Dozens of small images of deities in the form of suns, moons, stars, deer, scorpions, and birds are compositionally balanced, though no two panels are exactly alike. For the artist and his community, it is a visual prayer to the gods.
The National Museum of Mexican Art was established in 1982 by Carlos Tortolero, who remains the current president.2 It now has a permanent collection with nearly 10,000 works. In 2001 the museum opened a new building in the predominately Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen. Its focus may seem straightforward, but because identity is subjective, and borders are changing, political, and artificial, the parameters of the collection are continually debated. Cesáreo Moreno, director of visual arts and chief curator, has been at the NMMA since 1992. We spoke recently about the difference in the definitions and presence of Indigeneity in Mexico versus the United States. Moreno made
a distinction between political identity and cultural identity. The Mexican government officially recognizes 62 Indigenous people groups, perhaps as much as 22 percent of the population.3 Most Mexicans identify as mestizo but do not retain the language or religious customs of their Indigenous heritage. The NMMA considers how artists self-identify and their cultural identification, yet does not follow strict guidelines defining who is and is not Mexican or Indigenous.4 Museum records note as much information as possible on artists and their work, but it is not possible to state what percentage of their collection represents Indigenous artists. Indigeneity permeates every aspect of the museum. This is not simply due to artist’s ethnicities but also Mexican political and artistic history. Moreno points out how heavily Mexican modernism relied on Mesoamerican heritage. Max Ernst, Adolph Gottlieb, and some Abstract Expressionists were influenced by Native American cultures, but this interest was not a widespread, underlying foundational source for American modernists like it was for Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and their contemporaries. This is why one more often finds Indigenous and politicized subjects even by artists who may not identify with a specific Indigenous group. For instance, Herencia (Heritage) (2005) by Alfredo Arreguin depicts Emiliano Zapata and Subcomandante Marcos within an intricate field of swirls, flowers, birds, and horses.
1. This is the third of four versions. The first belongs to the artist/community, and the second was commissioned by Mexico City and was gifted to Paris, where it has been displayed at the Palais Royal metro station since 1997. The creation of the Paris mural and controversy over the treatment of the artist is the subject of the documentary, Eco de la montaña (Echo of the Mountain) (2014). The fourth version is in the collection of the Museo Zacatecano. 2. Until 2006 its name was the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum. 3. This includes Indigenous people who have emigrated from other countries, esp. Guatemala and the United States. Only approximately six percent retain an Indigenous language. 4. The NMMA does collect photography, primarily documentary or journalistic, by non-Mexicans—one exception to subjective decisions made on identity-based acquisitions.
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The NMMA holdings are divided into twelve collections: arte popular/ folk art, Carlos Cortez Archives, drawings, ephemera/memorabilia, installations, paintings/mixed media, photography/digital images, posters, prints, sculptures, textiles, and— notably—pre-Cuauhtémoc.5 Tortolero coined this term to avoid the Eurocentric/ colonial label “pre-Columbian,” though it has not gained currency outside this museum. The pre-Cuauhtémoc collection at the NMMA consists of 165 objects from the Maya, Mezcala, Remojadas, and Toltec cultures and Michoacán, Teotihuacan, and Western Mexico. Rebecca Meyers, permanent collection curator, says the fact that the facilities are
at capacity shows how much great art is out there. One large-scale work that reveals more images the longer one spends with it is Mario Castillo’s The Ancient Memories of Mayahuel’s People Still Breathe (1996). Created with arresting, transparent layers of acrylic paint, the composition appears to create the cool interior of a temple with an otherworldly man in the center. He presents himself like a vision. Large cactus leaves and flames radiate from his body. Mayahuel was a Nahua fertility goddess symbolized by the maguey. The plant and products made from it, such as pulque, were used extensively in ritual. Perhaps most easily missed is a large contour profile of an
5. Cuauhtémoc was the last Aztec Emperor, ruling from 1520 to 1521.
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androgynous person whose eye centers on the man’s chest. The eye is in fact shared with an eagle, a panther, a snake, and a supernatural bird. Castillo painted an Olmec head and Toltec warrior to the left of this spiritual being. Next to them a woman sits on a turtle cradling a small child. Her body is made from the cosmos, and maguey leaves radiate from behind her. The inclusion of a black bird swooping down next to this Madonna-like image recalls established symbolism of the Holy Spirit, though in this scene a second black bird is perched atop a cornstalk. In the lower left corner sits a Zapotec deity. A reclining Chac Mool figure holding a skull is most prominent on the right side of the painting. Behind it is an open-mouthed Quetzalcoatl in deep blue and green hues. Rising from this is a blooming agave flower stalk and a steep stairway indicating a temple. The mural’s most hidden features are transparent skulls that can be seen only from an angle in raking light. One wonders if these are painted with semen (the label explains this bodily fluid was mixed in with paint), which would emphasize the duplicitous meanings of skulls as signs of life and death. Castillo synthesizes elements from numerous ancient cultures in an affirmation of rich cultural heritage. Since 1987 the NMMA has organized seven to ten special exhibitions per year, including an annual Día de los Muertos exhibition in the fall. The two Moreno is most proud to have curated are The African Presence in México: From Yanga to the Present (2006) and A Declaration of Immigration (2008). A notable inclusion in the former was Black Chakwaina Katsina (2005) by Anthony Briones (Hopi) from First Mesa. The latter brought together over 70 artists, including a version of Most Serene Republics by Edgar Heap of Birds (Southern Cheyenne), which had premiered at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Though a printed catalogue and public-facing, online database of the
permanent collection is not yet available, the museum’s impact through exhibitions and public programming cannot be overstated. Vanessa Sanchez directs Yollocalli Arts Reach, which offers a wide range of youth studio classes, produces a radio show, and creates murals. Since 1997 more than a thousand young people have painted 50 striking designs on walls throughout the city. Artist Salvador Jiménez-Flores says the museum has been an important presence since he immigrated to Chicago in 2000. At NMMA he attended workshops and lectures, connected with artistic and politically engaged communities, and found himself energized by contemporary artists previously unknown to him, such as Javier Chavira and Judithe Hernández. Since establishing himself as an artist, Jiménez-Flores has been invited to show his work several times at NMMA. In fall 2018 he will join the faculty of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he looks forward to utilizing the museum in his teaching. He credits NMMA’s successes to its location, free admission, and family focus.
Like the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach and El Museo del Barrio in New York City, the National Museum of Mexican Art draws attention to incredibly diverse histories and current cultural production. These dynamic centers are crucial for academic research and transnational understanding but, perhaps more importantly, for community engagement on a local level.
top Mario Castillo, The Ancient Memories of Mayahuel’s People Still Breathe, 1996, semen, acrylic on canvas, 86 3/8 × 190 ½ in., NMMA Permanent Collection, 1997.37, gift of the artist in memory of his father, Manuel Castillo de León. Photo: Kathleen Culbert-Aguilar. bottom Installation view of La Nación Huichol: From the Sea to the Desert, 2011, NMMA Main Gallery. Photo: Michael Tropea. opposite Alfredo Arreguín, Herencia (Heritage), 2005, oil on canvas, 60 × 48 in., NMMA Permanent Collection, 2011.43, gift of the artist. Photo: Gustavo Herrera.
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— MEMORIAL —
MARLENE RIDING IN MAMEAH March 5, 1933–July 10, 2018
top Marlene Riding In Mameah (Pawnee, 1933–2018), Peyote Bird Gorget, German silver, brass, collection of J. W. W. Wiggins. Image courtesy of J. W. W. Wiggins.
ARLENE RIDING IN MAMEAH was one of the leading Southern Plains German silver jewelers and the first woman known to work in this genre. She was the daughter of Frank and Ethel Wilson Riding In and belonged to the Pitahawirata band of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. Her Pawnee name was Skau-doo-dau-dehwau-dah, and her parents and grandparents spoke Pawnee. The prominent German silversmith Julius Caesar (Pawnee, 1910– 1982) was her first cousin. Her first husband was Charles “Hodg” Supernaw, and her second husband was Clayton “Ace” Mameah. Born near the Cimarron River in Payne County, Oklahoma, Mameah attended the Pawnee Indian Boarding School, a local public school, and Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, where she learned fingerweaving and painting from Josephine Wapp (Comanche, 1912–2014). Mameah recalled of her father, Frank Riding In, “He always encouraged my artwork. He was the one that was always behind me, so that’s why he sent me to Bacone.”1 There she studied art with Dick West (Southern Cheyenne, 1912–1996). Acee Blue Eagle (Muscogee-Pawnee-Wichita, 1907–1959) was retired from
Bacone College but lived in Muscogee, so he took an interest in the emerging Pawnee artist and taught her painting techniques. In 1949 she won a first place in the Plains Division at the Indian Annual at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, becoming the youngest first-place winner. While she wanted to study jewelry making, those classes, also taught by West, weren’t open to women at the time. “But I fooled him,” Mameah recounted in 2017. Years after her first husband died, Mameah was finally able to fulfill her dream of becoming a silversmith. She began learning Southern Plains German silversmithing techniques in 1969 at Supernaw’s Indian Store in Skiatook, Oklahoma. Active in the powwow scene, she created jewelry and adornment for dancers. By 1975, she became a full-time silversmith. While German silver has a strong standing among Plains tribes, some Southwestern artists looked down upon the material, so Mameah never applied to any of the Southwest art markets. “I stuck with it, because I’m from a Plains tribe. Southern Plains is all I do,” she said. She made earrings, necklaces, pins, hair ties, armbands, roach spreaders, and gorgets. “All the designs were Pawnee, because I made them. They were my creation.” Native families passed her jewelry down through generations. Mameah sold to dancers but also gave her work away. “A lot of times, these little ones would be coming up. They’d be beginning dancing, and I knew their parents didn’t have a lot of money to dress them, so I would give them little things to help them along,” she said. Among her many awards and honors, Mameah won the Grand Award at the American Indian Exposition in Anadarko in 1963. Red Earth Festival named her their Honored One in 2007. The Southern Plains Indian Museum in Anadarko hosted her solo exhibition, Marlene Riding in Mameah: Metalwork, in 2001. Occasionally she spelled her name Riding Inn. Her hallmark was RI. In addition to being an accomplished metalsmith and painter, Mameah was a fingerweaver and beadwork artist. She painted Flatstyle works of Pawnee ceremonies and lifeways as well as Southern Plains powwow dancers. She worked as the art editor of Talking Leaves magazine. She and Brummett Echohawk founded Pani Arts Association, an organization for Pawnee artists. Based in Pawnee, Oklahoma, Pani Arts hosted exhibitions and art workshops. She served as president for three terms and mentored students through a master/apprenticeship program of the Oklahoma Arts Council. Her exquisite artistry in German silver is a treasured part of many private collections and part of the public collection of the Philbrook Museum of Art. Mameah said, “My husband used to say, ‘This is going to last forever. Long after you’re gone, your jewelry is going to be around. It’s going to be used.’ ” —America Meredith
1. All quotes are from “Marlene Riding in Mameah: Oklahoma Native Artists,” interview by Julie Pearson Little Thunder, YouTube, July 14, 2017, video, 1:15:29, web.
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— MEMORIAL —
FERNANDO OLIVERA ACEVEDO June 2, 1962–June 5, 2018
ERNANDO M. OLIVERA ACEVEDO was a Mexican artist as brilliant as his paintings. Olivera passed away from natural causes this summer. The news came as a bit of a shock as Olivera had just celebrated his 56th birthday only three days earlier. The artist was born in 1962 in the neighborhood of la Merced in Oaxaca City. His family comes from San Martín Tilcajete in the Ocotlán District, Oaxaca. Tilcajete is well known for its alebrijes, or woodcarvings. Olivera’s cousin José Olivera Pérez still lives in Tilcajete and is known for his colorful carvings. This area has a rich Zapotec history that predates the city center Monte Albán and was known for resisting the expansion of the Monte Albán culture when it entered in its second phase between 100 BCE and 200 CE. Olivera studied art at the prestigious Facultad de Bellas Artes de la Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UABJO) and later studied lithography at the Rufino Tamayo studio. He also studied printmaking with Shinzaburo Takeda, a Japanese-Mexican printmaker. Olivera painted with oils on canvas but believed that lithographs were an important artistic language that facilitated the reproduction of the ideas and themes that his work implied. Olivera’s love for painting and printmaking led him to share his knowledge and passion by teaching at the Centro de Educación Artística (CEDART) “Miguel Cabrera” in Oaxaca. Like his famous Oaxacan compatriots, Rufino Tamayo (Zapotec, 1899–1991) and Rodolfo Morales (Zapotec, 1925– 2001), Olivera drew from his Zapotec heritage. The three artists painted in a style called Magic Realism, and Olivera used the same bright color palette in all of his paintings that made his work very distinguishable. In Olivera’s magic world, women are the protagonists. He believed that “ feminine presence is fundamental, like fertility, the land, continuity.” Olivera was intrigued after watching Zapotec women protest in the municipal seat of Juchitán de Zaragoza. These
women, dressed in their customary garb unlike most women in Mexico, were very much involved in the social, political, and economic struggles of the region. Their strength inspired Olivera and made him want to bring to life the social and political struggles that the Indigenous people in Oaxaca and Chiapas face. Olivera has shown extensively in Oaxaca and Mexico City. He has also had exhibitions in Japan as well as Palo Alto, Chicago, and Philadelphia, among other locales. He illustrated the children’s book La mujer que brillaba aún más que el sol (The Woman who Outshone the Sun) by Alejandro Cruz Martinez (Children’s Books Press, 1991). Olivera’s bright smile and political satire that highlighted the forgotten and marginalized sectors of Mexican society will surely be missed. Galería Colectika in Puerto Vallarta will present a show in his memory later this year with Ed Schwartz, the former president of the Museum of Mexican Art in San Francisco and an avid collector of Olivera’s work. —Kevin Simpson
left Fernando Olivera Acevedo with an unfinished painting. Photo: Kevin Simpson. Both images courtesy of Colectika, Puerto Vallarta, JL. above Fernando Olivera Acevedo (Zapotec, 1962–2018), Untitled, oil on canvas.
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CALENDAR August 3–11: Gallup, NM Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial in downtown Gallup and other locations | (505) 863-3896 | gallupceremonial.net August 3–October 28: Seoul, Korea El Dorado, The Spirits, Gold and The Shaman at the National Museum of Korea, 137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu +82-2-2077-9000 | museum.go.kr August 3–23: Albuquerque, NM Frames: Luanne Redeye at the Harwood Art Center, 1114 Seventh Street NW | (505) 242-6367 | harwoodartcenter.org August 3–October 21: Albuquerque, NM Turquoise Kaleidoscope, solo exhibition for Michele Lowden (Acoma), at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th Street NW. Reception: Friday, August 3, 5:00–7:00 pm (505) 843-7270 | indianpueblo.org
appraisals for Insurance, Estates, Donations, Divorce Identification of Items • Inventory of Collections appraisals of rugs, basketry, pottery, jewelry, paintings, sculpture, graphics
Leona M. Zastrow, PhD 505-466-8581 ✠ email@example.com americanindianartappraising.com
August 3–October 21: Santa Cruz, CA Coyote Now: RYAN! Feddersen at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, 705 Front Street (831) 429-1964 | santacruzmah.org August 4 & 5: Flagstaff, AZ 69th annual Navajo Festival of Arts & Culture at the Museum of Northern Arizona, 3101 N. Fort Valley Road (928) 774-5213 | musnaz.org August 6–September 29: Santa Fe, NM Enormous Forms and Noteworthy Works by Seven Pueblo Painters at Adobe Gallery, 221 Canyon Road. Reception Monday, August 6, 4:00–7:00 pm, an exhibition of 19th- and 20th-century Pueblo ceramic dough bowls and early 20th-century Pueblo artists (505) 955-1550 | adobegallery.com August 7–11: Panama City, Panama 5th annual Festival de Arte Dule with art exhibits, concerts, dance, forum, workshops and film festival at various locations firstname.lastname@example.org | festivaldeartedule.com August 8–12: Ottawa, ON Asinabka Film & Media Art Festival at various locations +1 (613) 889-9559 | asinabkafestival.org August 9–11: Gallup, NM Gallup Native Arts Market at 215 Aztec Avenue, Native managed and juried art fair (505) 399-2890 | gallupnativeartsmarket.org
Art services offering installation, transport,editing,advisory, and curation of fine & Indigenous Art
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August 9–12: Perry, ME Sipayik Indian Day Celebration at Sipayik, Route 190, Pleasant Point, Passamaquoddy cultural festival (207) 288-3519 | abbemuseum.org August 9–12: Santa Fe, NM Objects of Art Santa Fe at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, 555 Camino de la Familia in the Railyard District (505) 660-4701 | objectsofartsantafe.com August 10–13: Santa Fe, NM 40th annual Whitehawk Antique Indian & Ethnographic Art Show at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, 201 W. Marcy Street. Reception: Friday, August 10, 6:00–9:00 pm, $85. Admission: per day $15, multiple days $25 (505) 988-9544 | whitehawkshows.com
August 11: Tacoma, WA In the Spirit: Northwest Native Festival at the Washington State Historical Society, 1911 Pacific Avenue, and Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Avenue | (253) 272-9747 tacomaartmuseum.org | washingtonhistory.org August 11 & 12: Santa Fe, NM Allard Auctions Best of Santa Auction, featuring Native American artwork, at the Scottish Rite Temple, 463 Paseo de Peralta (888) 314-0343 | allardauctions.com August 11—TBD: Spokane, WA As Grandmother Taught: Women, Tradition and Plateau Art at Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, 2316 W. First Avenue (509) 456-3931 | northwestmuseum.org August 14: Santa Fe, NM First American Art Magazine No. 20, Fall 2018, Launch Party at the Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts, 1590-B Pacheco Street, 5:00–7:00 pm | (505) 983-6372 | coeartscenter.org August 14–19: Santa Fe, NM 23rd RNCI On the Road Red Nation International Film Festival at the Violet Crown Theater, 1606 Alcaldesa Street (818) 665-5763 | rednationff.com August 14, 2018–March 15, 2019: Santa Fe, NM Imprint, exploration of Native printmaking, at the Ralph T. Coe Center for the Arts, 1590-B Pacheco Street. Reception: Tuesday, 5:00–7:00 pm | (505) 983-6372 | coeartscenter.org August 15–18: Santa Fe, NM The Antique American Indian Art Show at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe in the Railyard District. Reception: Tuesday, August 15, 6:00–9:00 pm. Art fair: Wednesday–Friday, August 16–18, 11:00 am–5:00 pm | (505) 660-4701 | antiqueindianartshow.com August 14–21: Anadarko, OK 95th annual American Indian Expo at the Caddo County Fairgrounds, 1019 E. Broadway Street. Art exhibition will be at the Southern Plains Indian Museum, 801 E. Central Boulevard (405) 638-2128 | facebook.com/2018AmericanIndianExpo August 15–20: Crow Agency, MT 100th annual Crow Fair Celebration Powwow & Rodeo at Crow Agency | (406) 638-3808 | crow-nsn.gov
Jamison Chās Banks Jason Garcia Terran Last Gun Dakota Mace Jacob Meders Eliza Naranjo Morse
Opening Event Tuesday, August 14 5-7 pm
August 16–17: Santa Fe, NM 43rd annual Wheelwright Museum Benefit Auction, 704 Camino Lejo. Silent auction: Thursday, August 17, 3:00–5:00 pm. Live auction: Friday, August 18: 12:00–3:00 pm (505) 982-4636 | wheelwright.org August 17–September 15: Santa Fe, NM Soul of Nations, juried show of art by Native teens from Southwestern reservations, at form & concept, 435 S. Guadalupe Street | (505) 982-8111 | formandconcept.center August 18 & 19: Santa Fe, NM 97th annual SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market in downtown Santa Fe. Saturday, August 18, 7:00 am–5:00 pm & Sunday, August 19, 8:00 am–5:00 pm | (505) 983-5220 | swaia.org August 18 & 19: Santa Fe, NM Free Indian Market Show at the Scottish Rite Temple, 463 Paseo de Peralta, 8:00 am–3:00 pm | (505) 473-5375 facebook.com/FreeIndianMarketShow August 11– September 22: Park Hill, OK 23rd annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show at the Cherokee Heritage Center, 21192 S. Keeler Drive (918) 456-6007 | cherokeeheritage.org
Coe Center 1590B Pacheco Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505 coeartscenter.org / (505) 983-6372
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Arctic and Indian arts st for the 21 century
26 Maine Street Kennebunkport, Maine 207 967-2122
August 26: Tahoe City, CA 15th annual Native American Basket Weavers’ Market at the Gatekeeper Museum and Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum, 130 West Lake Boulevard (530) 583-1762 | northtahoemuseums.org August 26: Norman, OK Deer-Hide Pouch Beading Workshop with Yonavea Hawkins (Caddo-Delaware) at the FAAM Office, 1005 N. Flood Avenue, 1:00–5:00 pm, $25, supplies included, ages 12+, 12 student limit, call or email to register | (505) 699-5582 firstname.lastname@example.org August 26: New Gloucester, ME Maine Native American Summer Market at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, 707 Shaker Road (207) 926-4597 | maineindianbaskets.org September 1: Grand Coulee Dam, WA 4th annual Plateau Native American Art at North Dam Park, 8:00 am–6:00 pm | (509) 633-9940 | colvilletribes.com September 1–3: Kewa Pueblo, NM Kewa Pueblo Annual Arts & Crafts Market at Kewa Pueblo, I-25, 33 miles north of Albuquerque, exit 259, north four miles on NM 22, west one mile on local road. Look for signs. More than 300 artists, plus food, fresh produce, and dances
Gina Brooks, Maliseet
Sculpture | Prints | Jewelry |Beadwork |Baskets shop online: www.homeandawaygallery.com
JOAN CABALLERO SANTA FE APPRAISAL CREDENTIALS
ISA & USPAP
N AT I V E A M E R I C A N A R T (505) 690-8482 email@example.com www.collectorsguide.com/jcaballero
September 1, 2018–May 12, 2019: Oklahoma City, OK American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd Street (405) 478-2250 | nationalcowboymuseum.org September 1, 2018–February 2019: Bentonville, AR In Conversation: Will Wilson and Edward Curtis at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 600 Museum Way (479) 418-5700 | crystalbridges.org September 5 & 8: Kinngait, NU The Kenojuak Cultural Centre and Print Shop will celebrates its grand opening on Wednesday, September 1, 1:00–6:00 p.m. Reception: Saturday, September 8, 12:00–5:00 pm +1 (416) 986-9017 | kenojuakcentre.ca September 7: Kansas City, MO ᎠᏍᎦᏯ ᎦᏅᎯᏓ (Long Men): the native streams and rivers of the land, solo exhibition for Joseph Erb (Cherokee Nation), at Travois, 310 W. 19th Terrace | (816) 994-8970 | travois.com September 7–November 9: Anadarko, OK Design by Phyllis Whitecloud, solo exhibition for this KiowaPonca regalia maker, at the Southern Plains Indian Museum, 801 E. Central Boulevard | (405) 247-6221 doi.gov/iacb/southern-plains-indian-museum September 8: Gallup, NM Native American Art Auctions, hosted by the Friends of Hubbell National Historic Site, at the Gallup Community Services Building, 410 Bataan Veterans Street | (602) 370-2875 | friendsofhubbell.org September 8 & 9: Lawrence, KS Haskell Indian Art Market on the Haskell Indian Nations University Campus, 155 Indian Avenue (785) 749-8467 | haskell.edu September 8, 2018–January 20, 2019: Jackson, MS Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer at the Mississippi Museum of Art, 380 S. Lamar Street | (601) 960-1515 | msmuseum.org
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September 14 & 15: Norman, OK Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Native American Art Studies Symposium at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Avenue, talk by Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo). Student presentations: Friday, 6:00 pm. Saturday: 9:30 am-3:30 pm | (405) 325-4938 | ou.edu/fjjma September 15: Novato, CA Native American Trade Feast, hosted by the Museum of the American Indian, at Miwok Park, 2200 Novato Boulevard (831) 688-0694 | marinindian.com September 15, 2018–January 20, 2019: Spokane, WA RYAN! Feddersen: Phantom Lands at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, 2316 W. First Avenue (509) 456-3931 | northwestmuseum.org September 21–23: Sioux Falls, SD 31st annual Northern Plains Indian Art Market (NPIAM) featuring artists from the Northern Plains of Canada and the United States. Best of show art preview and reception: Friday, September 22, at the Old Courthouse Museum, 200 W. 6th Street. Art market: Saturday, September 23, and Sunday, September 24, at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, 1101 N. West Avenue (605) 856-8193 | npiam.org September 22: Spiro, OK Autumnal Equinox Walks at Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center, 18154 First Street | (918) 962-2062 okhistory.org/sites/spiromounds
September 27, 2018–October 13, 2019: New York, NY Jeffrey Veregge, solo exhibition for this Port Gamble S’Klallam draftsman, at the National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center, 1 Bowling Green (212) 514-3700 | nmai.si.edu/visit/newyork September 28–December 9: Anadarko, OK Cultural Reflections by Amber Dubious, solo exhibition for this NavajoSauk-Potawatomi painter, at the Southern Plains Indian Museum, 801 E. Central Boulevard | (405) 247-6221 doi.gov/iacb/southern-plains-indian-museum September 29 & 39: Flagstaff, AZ 9th annual Hopi Native Arts & Cultural Festival, sponsored by the Hopi Tribe, at the Heritage Square, 22 E. Aspen Avenue at N. San Francisco Street | (928) 522-8675 | hopifestivalonheritagesquare.com October 4, 2018–October 6, 2019: New York, NY Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection at The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue (212) 535-7710 | metmuseum.org October 5, 2018–March 10, 2019: Phoenix, AZ Sonwai: The Jewelry of Verma Nequatewa at the Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Avenue | (602) 252-8840 | heard.org/exhibits
September 22 & 23: Long Beach, CA Moompetam: Native American Festival at the Aquarium of the Pacific,
100 Aquarium Way. Arts, dance, storytelling, music of the Tongva, Chumash, Acjachemen, Costanoan, Luiseño, and Kumeyaay peoples | (562) 590-3100 x0 | aquariumofpacific.org
October 5: Kansas City, MO Remedy/Reconcile/Rebuild: Luanne Redeye (Seneca) at Travois, 310 W. 19th Terrace | (816) 994-8970 | travois.com
704 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505 • 505-982-4636 or 1-800-607-4636
OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
43rdAnnual Benefit Auction Your purchases help support the museum’s educational programs and exhibitions!
Thursday, August 16
Friday, August 17
Silent Auction 3–5 p.m.
Live Auction Preview 10 a.m.–noon Live Auction Noon–3 p.m.
Food truck on-site August 17th. Offsite parking and free shuttle available. For more information visit www.wheelwright.org/auction Funded in Part by a Gift from
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October 5 & 6: Tishomingo, OK Southeastern Art Show and Market, hosted by the Chickasaw Nation, at the Historic Chickasaw Capitol Grounds, 411 W. 9th Street (580) 272-5520 | chickasaw.net October 6, 2018–January 7, 2019: Bentonville, AR Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 600 Museum Way (479) 418-5700 | crystalbridges.org October 3–6: Tuscaloosa, AL Moundville Native American Festival at Moundville Archaeological Park, 634 Mound State Parkway | (205) 371-8732 | moundville.ua.edu October 6 & 7: San Antonio, TX 5th annual Yanaguana Indian Arts Market at the Briscoe Western Art Museum, 210 W. Market Street | (210) 299-4499 | briscoemuseum.org October 8–11: Prior Lake, MN International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums, sponsored by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, & Museums (ATALM), at Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel, 2400 Mystic Lake Boulevard | (405) 401-9657 | atalm.org October 12–24: Quito, Ecuador, and Lima, Peru 7th Bienal Intercontinental de Arte Indígena, Ancestral o Milenario (Intercontinental Biennale of Indigenous, Ancestral, and Millenial Art), sponsored by the Fundación y Comunidad de Aprendizaje Escuela Indígena de las Artes | +593 099 795 8845 | biai. art October 12–14: Catoosa, OK 13th annual Cherokee Art Market at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa, 777 W. Cherokee Street. Reception: Friday, October 12, evening (877) 779-6977 | cherokeeartmarket.com October 13 & 14: Salt Lake City, UT Indian Art Market at the Natural History Museum of Utah, Rio Tinto Center, 301 Wakara Way, 10:00 am–5:00 pm (801) 581-6927 | nhmu.utah.edu October 13–18: Los Angeles, CA 12th annual LA SkinsFest at TCL Chinese Theater, 6935 Hollywood Boulevard, film festival | firstname.lastname@example.org | laskinsfest.com October 17–21: Toronto, ON 19th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival at locations TBA | +1 416-585-2333 | imagenative.org October 18–21: Dragoon, AZ Paquimé and Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua Tour hosted by the Amerind Foundation, 2100 N. Amerind Road | (520) 586-3666 | amerind.org October 27 (tentative): Gualala, CA 4th annual Native American Arts Expo at the Gualala Arts Center, hosted by Global Harmony, 46501 Old State Highway (707) 884-1138 | gualalaarts.org October 29–January 2019: Phoenix, AZ Yua: Henri Matisse and the Inner Arctic Spirit at the Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Avenue. Yupiit masks exhibited with works by a French painter | (602) 252-8840 | heard.org/exhibits For more events, visit our online calendar at FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM/CALENDAR 110 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM
23R D A N N U A L
23 AHOMECOMING NNUAL CHEROKEE 23 A N N U A L ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᎷᎪ ᎤᏁᏅᏒ ᏧᎾᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅᏅ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏅᏃ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᏍᎪᎸᏙᎢ
ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᎷᎪ ᎤᏁᏅᏒ ᏧᎾᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅᏅ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏅᏃ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᏍᎪᎸᏙᎢ RD
ART SHOW & SALE CHEROKEE HOMECOMING CHEROKEE HOMECOMING ART SHOW & SALE RD
ART SHOW & SALE
2017 Cherokee Homecoming Art Show Grand Winner - Daniel HorseChief “Generations” 2017 Cherokee Homecoming Art Show Grand PrizePrize Winner - Daniel HorseChief “Generations” 2017 Cherokee Homecoming Art Show Grand Prize Winner - Daniel HorseChief “Generations”
AUGUST 11 - SEPTEMBER 22, 2018 AUGUST SEPTEMBER 22, 2018 AUGUST 11 - SEPTEMBER 22, 2018
Don’t miss miss this Don’t this exclusive exclusiveexhibition exhibitionand andsale sale Don’t miss this exclusive exhibition and sale of contemporary and traditional Cherokee art. of contemporaryand andtraditional traditional Cherokee of contemporary Cherokee art. art. SPONSORED IN PART BY:
SPONSORED IN PART SPONSORED IN PART BY: BY:
21192 S. KEELER DR., PARK HILL , OK 74 451 • (888) 999-60 07 • CHEROKEEHERI TAGE.ORG 21192 S. KEELER DR., PARK HILL , OK 74451 • (888) 999-60 07 • CHEROKEEHERI TAGE.ORG
© 2018 Cherokee Heritage Center. All Rights Reserved.
21192 S. KEELER DR., PARK HILL , OK 74451 • (888) 999-60 07 • CHEROKEEHERI TAGE.ORG
© 2018 Cherokee Heritage Center. All Rights Reserved.
© 2018 Cherokee Heritage Center. All Rights Reserved.
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AUGUST 9–12, 2018 El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, NM
AUGUST 14–17, 2018 El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, NM SPECIAL EXHIBITS “An Exhibition of George and Mira Nakashima Furniture” “Maynard Dixon’s New Mexico Centennial” “Navajo Germantown Weaving: First Modern Art- 1870-1900”
NATIVE ART WEEK
Wheelwright Museum OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
Memory Weaving: Works by Melanie Yazzie
704 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505 1- 800 -607- 4636 • www.wheelwright.org
MAY 13 – OCTOBER 7, 2018
Support for Memory Weaving: Works by Melanie Yazzie and Peshlakai Vision is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts; and many other donors. Photos: Addison Doty.