MniSota: Reflections of Time and Place
Duluth, MN, May 7, 2012—On view from May 29 through August 26, 2012, at the Tweed Museum of Art, Mni Sota: Reflections of Time and Place features works by 17 extraordinary Native American artists from the Minnesota region. An opening reception takes place Tuesday, June 12, 2012 from 5–7 p.m. All exhibits are free and open to the public!
FAMILY DAY: Saturday, August 25, 2–4 pm. at Tweed
This extraordinary traveling exhibit showcases the innovation and beauty of Native American artists whose ingenuity promotes cultural continuity. The artists of Mni Sota provide stunning examples of ways in which Native artists of the Minnesota region continue to embrace the contemporary while supporting tradition.
“Minnesota” comes from the Dakota words “mni sota” which have been translated as “clouds reflecting in water,” “smoky water,” or “cloudy water,” all of which illustrate how our understanding of place has been defined by our surroundings. We use it here as an analogy to describe the innovative shifts of traditional arts throughout time to reflect the current landscape. As a culture whose arts are generally expected to evoke the past, it is not often that innovation is at the forefront of discussion regarding Native American arts. In fact, the historical objects we are so familiar with are only a snapshot of time, and represent a small fraction of the creative arts of Native peoples. Each generation’s work has built upon what has been established by the previous generations, incorporating new materials and media. Innovation is the soul of living art. Each generation, from historic times to the present, was creating contemporary art. The works included in Mni Sota illustrate the importance and necessity of both tradition and innovation in sustaining cultural continuity. The works of these 17 artists span a wide range of practices from the very old to the very new. They provide stunning examples of the ways in which Native artists of the Minnesota region contribute to the artistic heritage of their people. These artists reflect both the unfaltering influences of change and the strength of our tribal nations. The dialog that emerges between pieces in the exhibit generally categorized as “traditional” and those categorized as “contemporary” emphasizes the dynamic nature of culture, encouraging a broader understanding of tradition. The works help us examine how these categorizing terms are associated with specific types of Native American art work, and how these associations came to be. The line that has historically existed between traditional and contemporary begins to dissolve as we recognize that innovation is and always has been a part of our traditions."
Ahmoo Angeconeb, Lac Seul First Nation Ojibwe
Angeconeb was educated at Lakehead University and York University in Canada. His work has been widely exhibited in Europe including in solo exhibits in Cologne, Berlin, Munich, Monaco, Paris, Basel as well as in North America in Sante Fe, Seattle, Toronto, Halifax, London, and Vancouver. Angeconeb makes drawings and print works (often in color on dark paper creating a chiaroscuro effect) that result in bold and dynamic images. Known for his use of Anishinaabe iconography, Ahmoo tells personal and spiritual stories arising from figures and symbols his people have used for a thousand years. His 2009 series and exhibit Ahmoo’s Prayer, was offered as a “restorative vision” for healing as the artist struggled with his health. Imbedded in the images are family history and biography. Frequently used figures include thunderbirds and water spirits and radiating “peckings” to indicate smoke used to purify in ceremonies. The “wide-eyed” humans central to these works are a new and particular innovation specific to Ahmoo’s creations.
Greg Bellanger, White Earth Band of Ojibwe
Greg Bellanger is an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation and currently resides in Forest Lake Minnesota. Greg is an artist focused on traditional Native methods and objects. He creates a sense of the here and now while following traditional techniques using a mix of past and present in materials and styles. Greg attended the College of Visual Arts for two years, graduated from University of Wisconsin Stout, and spent a year in Fachhochschule Hildesheim, Germany on a student exchange program. “Art has been a part of my life since childhood. I did my first beading project 34 years ago but did not come back to beading until 1995.” Greg is inspired by his surroundings, architecture, fresh winter snowfall, leaves changing in the fall, and brightly lit skylines on cool nights. “Inspiration is all around us you just have to be open to see it.” Greg believes his greatest achievement is the life he shares with his wife and children.
Todd Bordeaux, Sicangu Lakota and Dakota
Todd Bordeaux, a member of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate, was born in Minneapolis and now resides on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. He is a master beadworker, incorporating beadwork into the many mediums he pursues. Todd views his work as an honor and responsibility to educate all people about the plight of the Lakota Oyate and all Indigenous people using fine art as his weapon and voice. Todd has received numerous honors for his work including three best-of-show and one artist choice awards. He was a participant in the Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2 traveling exhibition and publication, which opened at the New York Museum of Art. In 2008, Todd enjoyed an amazing season, collecting five major awards in two shows. He has been a judge of the Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market, one of the country’s most prestigious juried art shows, and was featured in the Cowboys and Indians magazine Sept. 2008, Today’s Ledger Artist article.
Carol Charging Thunder, Oohenunpa and Oglala Lakota
Carol Charging Thunder, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, was born in South Dakota, raised by her grandparents Paul Littleskunk (who later changed his name to Littleton), and her grandmother Zoe Little Wounded Littleton. Carol, now a resident of St. Paul, has been beading for 46 years. She first learned how to bead by watching her grandmothers, of which she had many in her tiospaye (extended family). “I love to make beautiful designs and stories come to life. I feel so pleased when I am done with a piece and see someone wearing a beaded medallion, buckskin top, moccasins, or dance outfit that I have made and see how proud and happy they are.” Many have purchased her beadwork including US Senator Ben Night Horse Campbell. Carol continues to pass on these traditions, teaching other women how to bead moccasins and make jingle dress outfits.
Pat Kruse, Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Pat Kruse is a descendant from Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and a band member of the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe. He currently lives on the Mille Lacs Reservation with his son whom he is passing down the tradition of working with birch bark. Learning from his mother Clara Kruse, who he calls his greatest inspiration, Pat has been working with birch bark since he was a child. “She taught me all the stuff about harvesting, sweet grass gathering, how to work with the woods, and ricing a lake of mahnomen (wild rice).” Pat practices all styles of birch bark work ranging from small to very large pieces. Pat has been featured in a number of exhibitions including: Birch bark, Clay, Pixels: New Work in the Museum Collection, Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND; Birch Bark Paintings, Swan Song Contemporary Arts, Maiden Rock, WI; and Pat and Gage Kruse and Jim Proctor, Bockley Gallery, Minneapolis, MN. Pat’s art can be found in numerous collections including: Plains Art Museum, Fargo ND; Tweed Museum of Art at the University of Minnesota Duluth; Mille Lacs Indian Museum, Onamia, MN; Legendary Waters Resort and Casino, Red Cliff, WI; and the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. He has also been featured in the American Craft Magazine, and the Star Tribune.
Denise Lajimodiere, Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe>
Denise K. Lajimodiere is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She is a jingle dress dancer and a published poet. Her poetry can be found in her book, Dragonfly Dance, published by Michigan State University Press. She currently lives in Minnesota and works as an Assistant Professor at North Dakota State University. In the spring Denise harvests bark from birch trees, then peels layers of the bark until pieces are onion-skin thin. The process is time consuming, painstaking, and must be done slowly and carefully. Denise visualizes the image she wants to create, and with the folded piece of bark held between her teeth she bites down using her eye teeth and makes a series of tiny imprints on the bark, carefully making sure not to puncture the bark. Denise specializes in dragonfly, turtle, and floral designs.
Orvilla Longfox, Assiniboine Sioux
Orvilla Longfox is Assiniboine Sioux from Fort Belknap, Montana. Her inspiration to become a porcupine quill artist came from her mother Agnes Gives the Blanket Longfox. Orvilla’s mother taught her the ways of living off Mother Earth. This included porcupine quilling and brain tanning. In Orvilla’s words “These teachings come from many generations back and as my mother has taught me, I have also taught my children what I have learned…I am proud to carry these teachings and pass them on.” She quills many pieces, spanning both traditional and contemporary works. Orvilla’s traditional works includes: pipe bags, warrior sets, deer hoof jingle dresses, and more. Her contemporary works include fully quilled pictorial scenes. Orvilla’s work can be seen in museums and private collections including: Science Museum of Minnesota, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota Historical Society, Tweed Museum of Duluth, Fond- du-Lac Museum, Custer’s Battlefield Museum of Lame Deer Montana, and Fort Folle Avione Museum.
Melvin Losh, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Melvin Losh, a master quill and bead worker, was raised on the Leech Lake Reservation where he learned and refined his life’s work. Melvin was fortunate to have learned the traditional art form of quilled birch bark boxes from master quillworker Katherine Baldwin, a member of the Ottowa Chippewa Tribe in Michigan. He has been doing beadwork for over 40 years and quillwork for over 35 years, mastering each art form. Melvin’s artwork can be found in private collections and museums including: The Plains Art Museum, Minnesota Historical Society, and the Leech Lake Tribe. Melvin has won best-of-show at Bemidji State University Annual Art Expo and the Leech Lake Tribal College Art Expo.
Cheryl Minnema, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Cheryl Minnema (Waabaanakwadookwe) is a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Cheryl was born in Minneapolis, and raised on the Mille Lacs Reservation by her mother Mille Benjamin (Zhaawanigiizhigookwe) and grandmother Lucy Clark (Omadwebigaashiikwe). Cheryl’s work focuses on the art of beautiful Ojibwe beadwork. Graduating from Nay Ah Shing Tribal School, she went on to receive her Associate of Arts Degree from Central Lakes Community College and her Bachelor’s of Elective Studies from St. Cloud State University. She now lives in Milaca, Minnesota with her husband Ed and their two sons, Sean and Ethan.
Wanesia Spry Misquadace, Fond Du Lac Band of Ojibwe
Wanesia Misquadace is a member of the Fond du Lac Band of the Ojibway in Minnesota. Highly adept at the traditional Ojibway practice of making wigwas mamacenawejegam, otherwise known as “transparencies” or “chews,” Misquadace utilizes the eye tooth to firmly bite designs into birch bark. A preserver of traditions and this dying art form, she is honored to be a part of bringing awareness of birch bark biting to the forefront in the contemporary art world. Also a skilled silversmith, Misquadace’s experience with precious metals has culminated in the fusion of birch bark biting design with silver and gold to create canisters and jewelry. Misquadace is also proud to include basketry, beadwork and photography in her body of work. Misquadace is an award-winning artist recently garnering two “first place” ribbons at the 2010 SWAIA Indian Art Market. “My art is an honest expression of who I am, where I’ve been, and how I see and feel.” Wanesia Misquadace’s works can be seen in galleries from coast to coast.
Norval Morrisseau, Sandy Lake First Nation Ojibwe
Morrisseau, founder of the “Woodland School” more recently known as the “Anishnaabe School” of painting, has received numerous awards in his Native Canada and abroad. He was appointed to the Royal Academy of Art in the 1973 and was also appointed Member of the Order of Canada in 1978. In 1980 he received an honorary doctrine from McMaster University. In 1989 Morrisseau was the only painter from Canada invited to participate in the exhibition titled Magiciens de la Terre / Magicians of the Earth at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Morrisseau has also been honored by the Native people when he was acknowledged as Grand Shaman of the Ojibwe and in 1995 the Assemble of First Nations gave him their highest award. His major retrospective organized by the National Gallery of Canada traveled to the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, NM and to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, NYC.
Sandra Panachyse, Canupawakpa Dakota and Mishkeegogamang Ojibwa
Sandra Panachyse is a well-known and celebrated beadwork artist in both her community and the pow- wow circuit. She has been creating pow-wow regalia for Native American dancers for three generations. She is of Dakota and Ojibwa descent and resides within the Dakota territories. Sandra’s knowledge and teachings of beadwork started when she was nine years old when she told her mom she wanted to dance. Her mother shared this with Sandra’s aunt who replied, “If she wants to dance, she has to know how to bead.” Now at the age of 39 she has been in the business of designing, creating, and beading custom orders in both traditional and contemporary styles for dancers throughout Indian Country. With each piece, she focuses on quality, pride, and originality creating truly unique pieces of beadwork. Sharing her work with people so they too can enjoy these qualities in what they are wearing has become Sandra’s life passion.
Joe Savage, Fond Du Lac Band of Ojibwe
Joe Savage, a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, is proud of his family heritage. Over the years, Joe has become a self-taught master of the ancient art of quillwork embroidery. Joe’s work has won him many awards at Native American art shows including best-of-show awards in Kansas and Arizona. Quillwork is a form of decoration used by many tribal groups throughout North America. (Generally speaking, after European influence arrived, quillwork was gradually replaced by beadwork as the chosen medium used for decorating personal items.) Joe uses natural dyes as much as possible in his work, as well as sewing the quills with natural sinew (tendon fibers) and using brain-tanned deerskin, which he tans himself.
Chholing Taha, Cree First Nations
Chholing Taha is a certified Native American artisan of Cree First Nations heritage. She has been art-crafting and writing intensively for the past 40+ years. Currently living in the Twin Cities with her family and beloved dogs, Taha earned her BFA in 1984, and MLIS in 1992. Her art works can be found in museums and corporate and private collections throughout the U.S., Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Japan. Her awards include: 2007 winner of the Eiteljorg Purchase Award, 2008 First Place winner in Textiles at the Annual Eiteljorg Indian Market, and 2009 & 2011 Best in Show at the In the Spirit Contemporary Art Exhibit. Taha finished her first unpublished novel She Who Was Taken in 2011.
Cecile Taylor, Spirit Lake Dakota and Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe
Cecile Taylor, a self-taught bead worker, mastered the art of transforming the traditional 2-dimensional beading style into her own contemporary 3-dimensional style. Cecile has been creating 3-dimensional work for over 17 years, drawing her inspiration from the beauty she finds in nature. Taylor is one of only a handful of 3-dimensional Native American bead artists. A resident of Minneapolis, Cecile’s work can be found in local American Indian shops such as Woodland Indian Crafts and Northland Native American Products. Her works are highly sought after by community members and pow-wow dancers.
Gwen Westerman, Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota
Gwen Westerman, a poet and fiber artist, lives in southern Minnesota, as did her Dakota ancestors. Her roots are deep in the landscape of the tallgrass prairie, and reveal themselves in her art and writing through the languages and traditions of her family. Westerman is an enrolled member of the Sisseton- Wahpeton Sioux Tribe and a professor in English and Humanities at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her award-winning quilts have been displayed in exhibits in Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Anchorage, Houston, and Tulsa. The women in her family have made functional quilts from fabric for at least six generations— her childhood was full of them. While many of the quilts she creates are utilitarian as well, and she expects them to be used, they also function to tell a story. “As Dakota people, we have a long, rich history that explains not only where we came from, but also our responsibilities in this world to each other and to the universe. My art is grounded in Dakota culture and tradition, history, oral tradition, and language recovery—and the continuation of our story.”
Delina White, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Delina White lives in the traditional village of Inger on the Leech Lake Reservation where she is an enrolled tribal member. Delina is a textile and mixed media artist, combining beads and fabric in the traditional woodland style of design. She follows the traditional fashion her grandmother Maggie King first taught her at age six. Her beadwork and appliqué designs are representative of her beautiful surroundings of the Great Lakes region. Delina is a 2010 Bush Artist Fellow.
Bobby Wilson, Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota and Standing Rock Lakota
Bobby Wilson was born in Minneapolis, MN. For the past decade Bobby has painted dozens of murals, performed spoken word poetry at events across the country, and appeared in television and radio commercials. Most recently his community mural projects have appeared in local media outlets such as City Pages, Minnesota Public Radio, and the Star Tribune. In addition to numerous artistic accomplishments, Bobby has garnered new attention in Indian Country as a member of the comedy group The 1491’s, appearing in comedic videos and live performances. Bobby’s work is heavily influenced by his Dakota heritage combined with a lifelong city upbringing. Much of his visual work strives to convey a social and political message tackling issues of racism, homelessness, and imperialism while maintaining a sense of humor and hope.
Francis Yellow, Itazipco Lakota
In the past, Francis J. Yellow (his father’s name) is how he signed his work as an “artist”. Now having lived 57 winters, he prefers Wanbli Koyake – Carries the Eagle (his Lakota name), which is how he will make himself known in all future doings. His grandparents, mother and father, and elders, raised him to be Lakota – Friendly. “Considering the genocidal conditions that they were born into, their endeavors were truly heroic. Lakota is not about race, ethnicity, or culture, but an everyday way of being in life. It is said, “We do everything through dreams.” Like our ancestors, today’s Friendly People still say, Lakol wicohan kin tewahila ca iyotiyewakiyelo – I love the Friendly Lifeways, so I have a hard time. The Friendly Lifeway is how I live my life; it is how I make things: a voice, my lifestory, a poem, sculpture, ledger art, public art –relations. Hau Mitakuye Owasin – All My Relations. Lemiye – This is me, Wanbli Koyake – Carries the Eagle.”
Curator Biography: Dyani White Hawk
Dyani Reynolds-White Hawk currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is Sicangu Lakota, an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Dyani earned her MFA in studio arts in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently the Arts Project Manager at the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She completed a BFA in 2 dimensional arts in 2008 from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she recently was exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Native Art’s Soul Sister: Reimagining Kateri Tekakwitha. Dyani won the 2011 Best of Classification (Painting, Drawing, Graphics and Photography) at the Santa Fe Indian Art Market and is a former American Indian Graduate Center Fellow, Advanced Opportunity Fellow and a member of the Edward Bouchet Graduate Honors Society. In 2009 she served as a research assistant with the Venice Biennale exhibition titled Rendezvoused featuring the work of Tom Jones and Andrea Carlson. Her insights are featured in the 2010 book, Art in Our Lives: Native Women Artists in Dialogue, published by the School for Advanced Research Press. Dyani’s art is accessioned with the Akta Lakota Museum, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Union Art Collection and the Robert Penn Collection of Contemporary Northern Plains Indian Art of the University of South Dakota. She is represented by the
Shiprock Santa Fe Gallery in Santa Fe, NM.
Exhibit Locations and Dates
Mni Sota: Reflections of Time and Place will travel to five locations throughout Minnesota.
The exhibit sites and dates are:
The Native American Community Development Institute is a fiscal year 2011 recipient of a Folk and Traditional Arts Touring Exhibit grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is funded, in part, by the arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.
About All My Relations Gallery
All My Relations Gallery is Minnesota’s only American Indian owned and operated American Indian contemporary fine arts gallery. Founded in 1999, All My Relations Arts has a history of producing quality contemporary American Indian fine arts exhibits. First a project of the American Indian Business Development Corporation—later the American Indian Neighborhood Development Corporation, All My Relations Arts presented dozens of exhibits at Ancient Traders Gallery, which closed in 2010. All My Relations Arts became an initiative of the Native American Community Development Institute in 2010. The new All My Relations Gallery opened its new home January 2011 in the heart of the American Indian Cultural Corridor along Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis with the debut of never-before-seen paintings by the master artist Frank Big Bear.