National Museum of the American Indian announces recipients of new visual, expressive arts grants program

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Kevin Gover (Pawnee/Comanche), director of the National Museum of the American Indian recently announced the inaugural awards for the museum's new Visual and Expressive Arts Grants program.

The museum's newest grant program offers support to a wide range of arts activities with the goal of increasing knowledge, understanding and appreciation of contemporary Native American arts.

"The National Museum of the American Indian considers the recognition of living artists of the Western Hemisphere to be of the utmost importance," said Gover. "These grants will strengthen scholarship and create opportunities for new and innovative work in this underserved field."

Grants are made in two funding areas, the visual arts and the expressive arts. Visual arts awards support exhibitions and installations of contemporary Native American art, as well as publications and critical writing. The expressive arts category supports the creation and presentation of new works with an emphasis on collaboration.

Visual Arts Grants

The Art Association of Jackson Hole will host the traveling exhibition "Marie Watt: Blanket Stories," organized by the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, Wyo. Watt (Seneca) explores the symbolism of blankets within American Indian culture past and present. The exhibition includes enormous quilts, stacked blanket works and cedar and bronze sculpture

Watt will lead gallery talks, present a slide lecture and organize a family sewing circle to encourage discussion about contemporary and historical Native American art, traditions and personal inspiration.

The "Ili-ho: The Surface Within" exhibition will explore, from an Indigenous perspective, four textile treasures from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii: a magnificent feathered cloak, a makaloa mat, an intricate kappa and a moving protest quilt.

The exhibition, for which Native Hawaiian artist and professor Maile Andrade serves as guest curator, will invite eight contemporary Hawaiian artists to explore these ancestral creations and create their own works. The exhibition is a celebration of Native contemporary textile art and emphasizes the role of the Native community in interpreting their own material culture.

Cultural Resources Inc., in conjunction with the Maine Indian Basket Alliance, will organize the traveling exhibition "North by Northeast: Wabanaki, Akwesasne, Mohawk and Tuscarora Traditional Arts." The exhibition will feature beadwork, basketry, woodcarving, birch bark canoe making and other traditional arts to increase the visibility of regional artists David Mose Bridges (Passamaquoddy), Marlene Printup (Tuscarora), Henry Arquette (Mohawk) and Jennifer Neptune (Penobscot), among many others. The exhibition will be presented at the Akwesasne Cultural Center in Hogansburg, N.Y.; the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine; and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center in Mashantucket, Conn.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Williamette University and the University of Washington Press will co-publish the exhibition catalog "Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs." The exhibition is a retrospective of the work of multimedia artist Joe Feddersen (Colville). The full-color, 112-page catalog will feature an extraordinary selection of the artist's best work in prints, glass and weaving since the mid-1990s. With a biographical essay by exhibition curator Rebecca Dobkins, an introduction by artist Barbara Thomas and a critical essay by artist-writer Gail Tremblay (Onondaga/Mi'kmaq), "Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs" will be a new volume in the prestigious Jacob Lawrence Series on American Art and Artists of the University of Washington Press. 

The Nicolaysen Art Museum will present a retrospective exhibition, titled "David Bradley: American Indian Gothic," as part of its contemporary American Indian art series.  Bradley's (Minnesota White Earth Chippewa) paintings combine a folk narrative style with political and social messages concerning Native American life and culture. He also draws from icons of Western art history to craft his jolting, colorful and playful paintings.

A 40-page exhibition catalog will be published featuring essays by curator Lisa Hatchadoorian and writer Gerald Vizenor (Minnesota White Earth Chippewa).

As part of the restoration of Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, which was damaged by a windstorm in 2006, the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project brings together artists to work in collaboration with ecologists, park stewards and educators to create site-specific artwork. Tania Willard, a multimedia artist from the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation of British Columbia will create work responding to new evidence of Native history in the park and integrate the knowledge of elders.

Through this project, Willard will work alongside other commissioned artists, including T'Uy'Tanat Cease Wyss (Coast Salish), Peter Von Tiesenhausen and Shirley Wiebe.

Expressive Arts Grants

Composer and cellist Dawn Avery (Mohawk descent) from Rockville, Md., along with percussionist Steven Alvarez (Yaqui/Mescalero Apache/Upper Tanana Athabaskan) and violinist

Tara-Louise Montour (Mohawk), will form a new Native classical chamber music trio, Three Sides.

Narratives by poet Janet-Marie Rogers (Mohawk/Tuscarora), videography by Chris Bose (N'laka pamux) and a narrative ceremony led by elder Jan Longboat (Mohawk), will accompany three original works by Dawn Avery.

Tsimshian artist and performer David Boxley from Anchorage, Alaska, will teach a Tsimshian dance to the Alaska Native Heritage Center dancers, oversee the inaugural performance of that dance and produce a working box drum for use during ANHC dances and theatrical performances, which will use the mask in the dramatic performance.

"Cauyaqa Nauwa? - Where is My Drum?" is a collaboration between Yup'ik storyteller Jack Dalton and Yup'ik singer and dancer Stephen Blanchett. Their story will trace the history and relate the importance of the cauyaq, or drum, in Yup'ik culture. The story will follow the cauyaq from its creation and perfection as an implement used in sacred, ceremonial and social life; its repression and destruction by missionaries; and its resurrection and renaissance in modern times. The piece will have two versions, one developed purely for theatrical presentation and other as a teaching device for area school children.

"Home: Inside & Out," a series of vignettes, will express the connections to home that delve into the deep sense of belonging and identity that connects Native Hawaiians to place, family, friends, values and emotions. New dances will be choreographed by fusing a mixture of traditional hula, creative movement and dramatic staging. These dances will be set to nouveau-Hawaiian musical compositions that will be drawn from ancient forms and chanting textures, accompanied by Native and Western instruments. The project is an intergenerational collaborative project involving the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, kuma hula H?k?lani Holt and a culture-based team of next-generation Native Hawaiian artists who share a connection to traditional hula.

The Witness Project is a collaborative, multidisciplinary work by choreographer Tom Pearson (Coharie/Creek/Eastern Band Cherokee), composer-performer Louis Mofsie (Hopi/Winnebago) and performer Donna Ahmadi (Cherokee/Chickasaw). These artists will visit the sites and communities of their respective Native lineage and create a series of vignettes that explore the issue of identity and an attempt to understand and reconcile the realities of being mixed-race Native artists living and working in an urban landscape.

The Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum of Exeter, R.I., has a project titled, "Places, Memories, Stories and Dreams: The Gifts of Inspiration" that will harness the power of storytelling, music and digital media to build cross-cultural understanding of the relationship between tradition and geography in Native culture. Renowned Niantic-Narragansett storyteller Paulla Dove Jennings will visit several culturally relevant historic places, and each story will be video and audio recorded. The stories then will be digitally edited, and original and traditional music performed by the Nettukkusq Singers will be incorporated and available on DVD.

Playwright Rhiana Yazzie (Navajo), visual artist Carolyn Anderson (Navajo), choreographer Emily Johnson (Yup'ik) and Pangea World Theater dramaturge Meena Natarajan will draw together their talents to create the one-person play "Ady" about the life of dancer-artist from Guadeloupe, Ady Fidelin, to confront an unexpected intersection of colonialism, DNA, Navajo culture, sexuality, dancing, writing, the island of Guadeloupe and the art of Man Ray and Pablo Picasso.

Thirteen grants totaling $145,000 will support artists and cultural collaborations across the country, from Maine to Hawaii. The museum received 83 applications requesting a total of nearly $1 million. The grant recipients were selected by a panel of museum staff and outside experts in the contemporary arts field. Visit the museum's Web site at this summer for information about next year's grant applications and deadlines.

The National Museum of the American Indian's Visual and Expressive Arts grants are made possible through a generous gift from The Ford Foundation.


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