Contemporary Native Artwork From Umatilla, ICTMN Staff
O’siyo. Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts is a nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for Native Americans to develop their artistic skills. CSIA was incorporated in 1992 by renowned Native artist James Lavadour (Walla Walla) and his friends, with the idea of using art as a transformative tool within the Native American community. The National Museum of the American Indian’s Gustav Heye Center in New York City is presenting the exhibit, Making Marks: Prints from Crow’s Shadow from now until January 5, 2014.
“ Crow’s Shadow is located on the Umatilla rez of the Arts is housed within the historic St. Andrews mission schoolhouse, itself situated at the base of the Blue Mountain foothills on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon.
Since 1992, it has been a peaceful and inspiring place to go and create art and a gathering place for contemporary Native artists. The nonprofit institute draws artists from around the world to its state-of-the-art printmaking studio, Crow’s Shadow Press. Its goal is to provide opportunities for Native Americans through artistic development.
It’s now the extraordinary contemporary artwork being created at Crow’s Shadow that is drawing much deserved attention.
The exhibition showcases 18 works by seven contemporary Native American artists: Rick Bartow, Wiyot, Phillip John Charette, Yup’ik, Joe Fedderson, Colville Confederated Tribes, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, Cheyenne/Arapaho, James Lavadour, Walla Walla, Wendy Red Star, Crow, and Marie Watt, Seneca.
The prints in Making Marks were collaborations between Crow’s Shadow master printer Frank Janzen and visiting artists; they are part of the Crow’s Shadow permanent collection.
To learn more about Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, go to CrowsShadow.org.
“I believe that a painting must stand up on its own without explanation. I think of myself as an abstract action painter. I just happen to see landscape in the abstract events of paint.” ~James Lavadour~
There are many legends about how the Indians learned about the Talking Feather/Talking Stick. Here is one of them…
Long years ago, when gods walked this earth and the land beyond, Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei, were together enjoying the warm summer day. It was a day when the crickets chirrupted in the waving, green grass,when they noticed a figure moving towards them.
As the figure approached closer Kanati said “Look, that woman is crying, what could be the matter?” “I can not imagine why anyone would cry on such a glorious day.” Replied Asgaya Gigagei. “Let’s ask her.”
As the woman drew nearer, they could see her buckskin was decorated with beautiful designs and colors. She carried a bundle filled with leaves, sage, and colorful stones and feathers. They knew immediately this woman was a holy being.
Kanati asked her “Holy mother, why are you crying so?” The woman looked up in wonder, because she had been walking with her head down. “I’m crying because the men of my village are fighting constantly! Each thinks his ideas for leading the tribe is the best!” Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei glanced at one another, in perplexity. “Why, if there are so many good ideas for leading your tribe, why are the men fighting? And why aren’t you and the other members happy!” The poor woman shook her head sadly and replied, “Yes, you are right, the men do have very good ideas, but every man wants to speak his own ideas, and not listen to anyone else. They all shout and scream at one another so loudly, that it frightens the children who run and hide behind their mothers. The women are sad because their husbands come to the house upset and angry. Furthermore, the tribe is suffering, because no one can seem to make a decision.” Just then a beautiful Eagle was soaring overhead, Kanati called out “Brother Eagle, may I have one of your feathers, there are poor humans in desperate need!”
Bother Eagle replied “Yes” and shook himself until a single iridescent, large feather fell to the ground. “Many thanks and Blessings on you” said Kanati. Kanati made secret signs and prayers over the Feather. Asgaya Gigagei helped him with the blessings. Kanati then said to the woman “This is the sacred Talking Father, it holds great power for the one who holds it. Go back to your people, hold this feather up in the air, all who see it will fall silent, and listen to what you have to say. Tell all who listen that from now on, who ever holds this feather, all present within the Circle Council must listen to his words. The feather must then be passed on to the next speaker.”
The woman thanked Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei and hurried back to her village where there was total chaos!. Everyone was talking at once, children were crying, men were screaming at each other. As soon as she held the feather over her head, all became quiet! No one could utter a sound! the holy woman proceeded to give the directions given to her by the gods. She then passed the feather to the first man. He called the Talking Circle together, and each man had his say as he held the feather. From that time on that tribe flourished because they now had direction, and each person could hear and understand what their peers said. The people worked together, to build a great nation. Along the way, they shared the wonders of the Talking Feather with other tribes they met. “And that my friends is the true story of how the Talking Feather came to be!”