Exhibition to Feature Contemporary Work by Indigenous Native American Artists
Artist And Curator, Wendy Red Star To Bring Eight Distinguished Indigenous Artists To Northern Utah For Exhibition Exploring The Ideas Of “the Quality Of Being Indigenous”
The Weber State University Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities (www.weber.edu/cah) and the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery (www.weber.edu/shawgallery) today announced the opening of its latest art exhibition, “We Are The People,” which features work by a diverse group of contemporary indigenous artists from both the United States and Canada. The exhibition will be making its world debut at Weber State University with an opening reception at the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery on Friday, February 26, 2016 at 7 p.m. and will run through April 8, 2016. Wendy Red Star, a member of the Crow Indian Nation, has guest curated this exhibition.
Indigenous peoples are those groups protected in international or national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, their cultural and historical distinctiveness from other populations. The legislation is based on the conclusion that certain indigenous people are vulnerable to exploitation, marginalization and oppression by nation states formed from colonizing populations or by politically dominant, different ethnic groups. Indigenous peoples of the American continent are broadly recognized as being those groups and their descendants who inhabited the region before the arrival of European colonizers and settlers.
A defining characteristic for an indigenous group is that it has preserved traditional ways of living, such as present or historical reliance upon subsistence-based production (based on pastoral, horticultural and/or hunting and gathering techniques), and a predominantly non-urbanized society. Not all indigenous groups share these characteristics. Indigenous societies may be either settled in a given locale/region or exhibit a nomadic lifestyle across a large territory, but are generally historically associated with a specific territory on which they depend. Indigenous societies are found in every inhabited climate zone and continent of the world.
Indigenous societies range from those who have been significantly exposed to the colonizing or expansionary activities of other societies (such as the Maya peoples of Mexico and Central America) through to those who as yet remain in comparative isolation from any external influence (such as the Sentinelese and Jarawa of the Andaman Islands). Contemporary distinct indigenous groups survive in populations ranging from only a few dozen to hundreds of thousands and more. Many indigenous populations have undergone a dramatic decline and even extinction, and remain threatened in many parts of the world. Some have also been assimilated by other populations or have undergone many other changes. In other cases, indigenous populations are undergoing a recovery or expansion in numbers.
“We Are The People” brings together eight distinguished contemporary artists from indigenous backgrounds working in new media, video, photography, performance and sculpture. Each artist actively investigates and engages with the concepts of nationhood, indigenism, ritualism and land. Artist and curator Wendy Red Star has tasked each artist to experiment with ideas that surround indigenous people and nations using their own unique experiences and artistry. “We Are The People” will feature the work of the following artists:
- Amelia Winger-Bearskin, Iroquois
- Elisa Harkins, Cherokee
- Tanis S’eiltin, Tlingit
- Tanya Lukin Linklater, Kodiak
- Duane Linklater, Moose Cree
- John Feodorov, Navajo
- Peter Morin, Tahltan
- Raymond Boisjoly, Haida
“This exhibition is an opportunity for Native American and First Nation artists to influence contemporary art discourse and challenge the misperceptions and preconceived notions surrounding art made by Indigenous people today,” said Lydia Gravis, director of Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery. “Utah audiences (and other visitors) will be given a valuable opportunity to explore their perceptions of contemporary indigenous culture through a variety of art experiences, including performance and new media.“
“I have assembled a select group of established and emerging contemporary native artists who collectively are changing and shaping pre-conceived notions about history, rituals and spiritualism,” said Red Star. “We each derive our heritage from indigenous tribes, but how we interpret and showcase our work is all very unique. Audiences will truly have an opportunity to be involved in the work in ways they never imagined and in turn I put the experience back into their hands to really consider how we are all interconnected.”
The exhibit is free and open to the public. A panel discussion featuring several of the artists will take place on Thursday, February 25 at 6 p.m. at the Kimball Visual Arts Building. The opening reception will be February 26, 2016 at 7 p.m. “We Are The People” exhibition will run February 26 – April 8, 2016.