Posted by Jeremy Pittenger on September 30, 2016
An old tradition becomes interlaced with a new take on art in the Schingoethe Center exhibit “WOVEN: The Art of Contemporary Native Weaving” opening Tuesday, October 4 from 5–6:30 p.m. The exhibit features the work of 18 renowned indigenous artists who expand concepts of Native American art through their use of nontraditional materials and motifs, putting interesting twists on baskets, rugs, photographs and sculpture.
For Meg Bero, curator and Schingoethe Center executive director, the idea to feature Native weaving centered around expanding ideas and presenting teaching and learning opportunities for faculty and students. “This is in line with the center’s vision to cultivate a creative community,” she said. “Today’s Native weavers are pushing the boundaries of what defines their craft in a way that expands our ideas of what it means to be an American Indian artist in the 21st century.”
Bero adds that some artists use traditional motifs and techniques but employ very nontraditional materials, such as paper, film and glass. Other artists use traditional materials but explore nontraditional motifs, for example, Navajo weaving that depicts landscape and popular culture.”
Bero is curating the exhibit with Todd Clark (Wailaki) of IMNDN Native American Art for the 21st Century. “I wanted to take the opportunity to work with a Native curator as I am committed to ‘first voice,’ a term used to embody Native folks speaking for themselves as opposed to non-Native anthropologists, scholars, and curators speaking for and about Native people,” she said. “The commitment to this approach by the Schingoethe Center is evidenced by the speakers and artists who are regularly invited to our campus.”
Those artists include Gail Tremblay and Shan Goshorn, whose work will be on display in the Schingoethe Center this fall. “Gail and Shan’s work is cutting edge,” said Bero. “They were the initial inspiration for ‘WOVEN.’ Once they accepted my invitation to be part of the exhibit I began to build upon the weaving theme.”
“WOVEN” will also be complemented by two companion exhibits: “WOVEN: Traditional” (curated by Bero) and “A Place for Everything: Containers of Native America,” curated by Laura Russman, curator of collections. The opening reception for “WOVEN” will be followed by an artist talk by Kelly Church (Ottawa and Chippewa). Clark will provide an overview of black ash basketry.
Many of the artists in the exhibition come from families of weavers whose artistry dates back generations, including Church. She comes from the largest black ash basket-making family in Michigan, an unbroken line of weavers. Her exquisite technique combines with unique materials to bring freshness to the craft. Her piece titled “Treaty Hat” pushes the boundaries of these traditions to comment on the loss of her people’s land from which her materials are harvested.
“WOVEN: The Art of Contemporary Native Weaving” runs through Friday, December 16, 2016. For more information, visit aurora.edu/museum.