Category Archives: American Indian Art

Tatanka Means Uses Humor to Ease Covid-19 Pain

“Actor and comedian Tatanka Means reflects on healing with laughter in a Native way amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.” ICT

Actor and comedian Tatanka Means

Excerpt:Healing through humor with Tatanka Means, ICT

“Tatanka Means is arguably one of the best-known Native actors and comedians in Indian Country, who in early 2020, had a jam-packed schedule filled with comedy gigs, acting jobs and speaking engagements.  When COVID-19 hit, Means had all of his plane flights, and gigs canceled. But he pressed on. Aside from acting he’s also a stand-up comedian and a motivational speaker and he’s still going strong through this pandemic. Means described how he has coped.The answer is healing through humor.”

Tatanka Means:

“It was really by surprise. I heard the news around the world what was happening but I’m on the road every other week and I was just kind of concentrating on booking my shows, things I had coming up with the film industry and graduation speeches of course, cause you know, May’s always really busy April and May with graduations and all of a sudden it just stopped. All my flights were canceled and we kind of went into quarantine… Communities are being hit hard but you know through comedy, through history, with Indian people, we always laugh when we’re having hard times. That’s why I say the humor brings us back up when we’re at funerals. You know, we’re laughing hard, sometimes telling stories those good old times, you know what I mean? And it’s just finding the humor right now in what’s happening in everyday life and how it’s changed… I don’t know what they think of some of us that are laughing at funerals hard, but, you know, it’s healing because we let those feelings out…That’s what I love about traveling Indian country and going to all different communities…It’s not really set up as a joke yet but it’s something that amuses me that I find very entertaining because you know, right when masks came out, masks are mandatory… N-95s, what did we do? We started beading our masks. We started quilling our masks. You have seen people with the fanciest masks. That’s what Indians do. That’s what we do. We can’t have a regular key chain. We bead the key chain. You know what I mean? We had beaded masks, full-on beaded masks, all the best bead makers out there were getting orders. I don’t even know if these things were protective or not but they sure did look good…This is the time for people at home to hone your skills, to get better, to write and do things like that. That’s certainly what I’ve been working on and just kind of watching the world.”

“Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., join hands as they watch fireworks during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 20, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Jill Biden is seen on the left.” (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

 

From Indian Country Today (ICT):

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

COVID-19: Native advisories and event updates

Buffy St. Marie’s Book for Kids Shows Her Love for Animals

“Singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie’s long career includes an expansive catalogue of music, art and work in activism. And now she can add children’s book author to that list, with the publication of Hey Little Rockabye.”CBC Radio

Excerpt:Buffy Sainte-Marie’s loveof Animals Shines through her first Picture Book for Kids CBC Radio

“Featuring illustrations by Ben Hodson, Hey Little Rockabye conveys an important message about finding love and acceptance: a young girl rescues a little dog and tries to convince her parents to let her keep him. 

An accompanying song was released and the book features sheet music for readers to sing along… 

Hey Little Rockabye is about the many wonderful pets who need a forever home. We’re hoping that people will consider adopting a little Rockabye of their own through shelters. There are all kinds of reasons why a pet may need a home… Over the years, I came to be not only a dog people but a cat people. So I’m both. Cats and dogs are very different. Most people who start out with dogs they think that a cat is going to speak the same language as a dog. But you can’t train cats, you just have to learn a different language…’As a little girl, I had rabbits. There was a dog and there was a cat that everybody ignored. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a zookeeper — and would envision that would get me close to animals!’

“I’m always longing for a pet. When I’m on the road —I like to go down to the local shelter or the local pet stores where they have pets out for adoption. I like to go in to socialize with the animals who are there…It’s a major commitment and I’m so proud that people are finding forever homes for these animals.”

Indian Country Today:

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

COVID-19: Native advisories and event updates

“I’ve said from the outset of this election that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. Who we are. What we believe. And maybe most important — who we want to be. It’s all at stake.”~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

STAY SMART — STAY STRONG — STAY SAFE!

COVID-19 Is Destroying the Livelihoods of Native Artists

“The coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact on the livelihoods of Native American artists. But they are responding with a creative resolve born from centuries of adversity.” P. Leigh, The New York Times

Our great-grand folks went through the Great Depression, the artist Marvin Martinez says. Now I feel like I’m reliving my ancestors. Credit-Ramsay de Give for The New York Times

Mr. Martinez creates pottery blackened by blue smoke that recalls the legacy of his great-grandmother, Maria Martinez. Credit- Ramsay de Give for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: On Tribal Lands, a Time to Make Art for Solace and Survival — By Patricia Leigh, The New York Times

“For over 30 years, Marvin and Frances Martinez have risen with the sun to drive from their home at the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico to the centuries-old Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe.

They arrive early to snag a prime spot beneath the rough-hewed wooden beams of the portal, a colonnade where they sell pottery blackened by blue smoke that recalls the legacy of Maria Martinez, the grande dame of Native American pottery and Mr. Martinez’s great-grandmother.

Native American vendors under the portal of the Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, circa 1925-1945.Credit…Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM:DCA)

They are among the 70 or so Native American artisans gathering here to earn a living…This living museum of craftspeople, a program of the New Mexico History Museum, is a Santa Fe institution that draws 300 to 1,000 tourists a day. That was before the yellow caution tape went up and downtown Santa Fe became a ghost town.

The gathering of Native artisans under the portal is a Santa Fe institution that draws 300 to 1,000 tourists a day. Credit- Palace of the Governors Photo Archives

New Mexico’s 23 tribal communities make up almost 60 percent of reported cases and half the deaths, though they comprise just 11 percent of the state’s population… Last month, Indian Market in Santa Fe, the country’s oldest and most competitive market, announced that it would be going virtual this August, spawning ripples of anxiety among artists untutored in e-commerce or living in isolated areas with little or no internet connectivity.

‘Most Native artists rely heavily on the principal markets as an economic lifeline,’ said W. Richard West, Jr., president and chief executive of the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles. ‘To have it all come crashing down is really tough.’

Mark Bahti, who owns galleries in Tucson and Santa Fe, noted that many artists come from large extended families. ‘When people support an artist, they are supporting a community,’ he said. At Zuni Pueblo (pop. 7600), in a hard-hit part of New Mexico, some 77 percent of households have at least one self-identified artist at home. A young cooperative called ARTZ — for Ancestral Rich Treasures of Zuni — includes Zuni fetish carvers, who sculpt small animals and other spirit world figures from alabaster and other stones. But the tour buses and visitors stopped coming after the virus outbreak.

A mural by the street artist jetsonorama on Highway 160 on the Navajo reservation.Credit…Chip Thomas

On Highway 160 on the Navajo reservation, where jewelry vendors once set up stalls, a black and white mural by the street artist jetsonorama uses the haunting image of a masked Indian in a headdress to underscore, in both Dine’ and English, the urgency of following public health protocols…The economic importance of traditional cultural practices extends to regions not widely associated with the arts. A market study of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota by the First Peoples Fund, a nonprofit that supports Native artists and culture bearers found that 79 percent of home-based businesses were in traditional arts like beadwork and quillwork.

Rolling Rez arts, a roving arts studio, credit union, internet hot spot and mini-trading post on wheels, aimed at reaching artists in far-flung settings. Credit- Bryan Parker

A solution was Rolling Rez arts — a roving arts studio, credit union, internet hot spot and mini-trading post on wheels that until the virus struck — fanned out across 11,000 square miles to reach artists in far-flung settings…The Fund, based in Rapid City, is among the organizations stepping up to provide financial relief for Native artists in 25 states, who have reported losses ranging from $150 to $38,000 since March 1.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 06/12/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states Federal and state services include monetary and food assistance, unemployment benefits, and more. 

Where to begin? After extensive research, the most comprehensive and user-friendly website for finding assistance from a multitude of programs is arguably Benefits.gov.

COVID-19 online resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Basic information. Indian Health Service National Congress of American IndiansNational Indian Health Board

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden delivered a speech at the funeral for George Floyd on Tuesday, calling on his family to turn his death into “purpose.”

“Now is the time for racial justice. That’s the answer we must give to our children when they ask why. Because when there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America,”Democratic Presidential nominee  ~Joe Biden~

TODAY WE MARCH — TOMORROW WE VOTE!

STAY STRONG — STAY SAFE

Cree Artist Kent Monkman Redraws History for 2020

“Coonskin caps for Christmas! I was a kid in mid-20th-century America. The biggest cultural event I can remember from early childhood was Walt Disney’s gigantically popular “Davy Crockett: Indian Fighter” on TV. The first installment of a serial, which debuted on Dec. 15, 1954, it was basically about the exploits of a Tennessee backwoods gun-for-hire, and promoted nostalgia for the days when the Wild West was ‘won’ from indigenous peoples”. H. Cotter, The New York Times

Mr. Monkman’s “Resurgence of the People,” from 2019, references art history, from “Washington Crossing the Delaware”

Excerpt: A Cree Artist Redraws History, By Holland Cotter, The New York Times

“A verse of the theme song, which was everywhere on the radio, went:

Andy Jackson is our gen’ral’s name

His reg’lar soldiers we’ll put to shame

Them redskin varmints us Volunteers’ll tame

‘Cause we got the guns with the surefire aim

Davy, Davy Crockett, the champion of us all!

Andy Jackson was, of course, Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, whose 1830 signing of the Indian Removal Act led to the Trail of Tears, and whose portrait now hangs, at the request of the 45th and sitting president [Trump], in the Oval Office of the White House.

Emanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” from 1851, is one of many art references Mr. Monkman updates. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

All this came back to mind when I saw “The Great Hall Commission: Kent Monkman, mistikosiwak (Wooden Boat People)” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The second in a continuing series of contemporary works sponsored by the Met, it consists of two monumental new paintings by the Canadian artist Kent Monkman, installed on either side of the museum’s main entrance in the soaring Great Hall.

The paintings are pretty stupendous. Each measuring almost 11 feet by 22 feet, they are multi-figured narratives, inspired by a Euro-American tradition of history painting but entirely present-tense in theme and tone. And both are unmistakably polemical, suggesting that with this and other commissions — an earlier one, sculptures by the Kenyan-born artist Wangechi Mutu, is still in place on the museum’s Fifth Avenue facade — certain winds of change could be blowing through the Met’s art-temple precincts.

Mr. Monkman, 54, is one of Canada’s best-known contemporary artists, and one who has stirred controversy on his home ground. Of mixed Cree and Irish heritage, he has made the violence done under European occupation, to North America’s first peoples, a central subject of his work.

But he has also, crucially, flipped a conventional, disempowering idea of Native victimhood on its head.

Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, in heels, provides a rescuing hand in Welcoming the Newcomers. His sources include Courbet and Titian.Credit Kent Monkman

His paintings, done in a crisply realistic, highly detailed, somewhat cut-and-paste illustrational style, are far from grim… the image of the artist himself in the guise of his alter ego, a buff, cross-dressing, gender-fluid tribal leader named Miss Chief Eagle Testickle…Miss Chief is an avatar of a global future that will see humankind moving beyond the wars of identity — racial, sexual, political — in which it is now perilously immersed.

The most radical aspect of his work in the context of the Met — an ‘encyclopedic’ museum thoroughly Western in attitude — is that it presents a view of art history through the eyes of the Other, in this case Native Americans and people of Canada’s First Nations. The shift in cultural positioning begins with the exhibition title.

Mistikosiwak, or Wooden Boat People, was a Cree name for European settlers arriving in what is now North America. One of the two paintings, Welcoming the Newcomers, depicts such an arrival, with Native people greeting strangers at the Atlantic shore.

But the scene is less a reception than a rescue. A capsized boat is visible in the distance… Several of the painting’s Indigenous figures are based on examples of 19th-century art in the Met’s collection. Among them are sculptures like ‘Mexican Girl Dying’ by Thomas Crawford (1846), on view in the museum’s American Wing, and paintings like Eugène Delacroix’s ‘The Natchez,’ in the 19th- and early 20th-Century

European galleries. Each of the originals perpetuates the myth of the Native Americans as a vanishing people, doomed to disappear, a fiction that usefully underpinned and fueled another myth, that of Western ‘Manifest Destiny.’

On the left: A detail from Eugène Delacroix’s “The Natchez,” 1823-24 and 1835. The scene was inspired by a romantic novel in which the infant born to a Native couple is doomed to die.Credit The Metropolitan Museum of Art

On the right:A detail from Kent Monkman’s “Resurgence of the People” updates Delacroix’s pessimistic image by depicting a healthy baby in the arms of a same-sex Indigenous couple. CreditKent Monkman

In Mr. Monkman’s paintings, Indigenous people are, for the most part, proactive figures, shaping the world around them, which doesn’t mean he ignores the catastrophes that followed the European occupation… when he depicts the figure of a child apparently sick and dying in his mother’s arms, he lifts the figure from a painting of “The Massacre of the Innocents” by the European artist Francois Joseph Navez.

Mr. Monkman’s image of the child — a reference to the damage done by the forced placement of Indigenous children in white-run boarding schools — appears in the second Met-commissioned painting, ‘Resurgence of the People.’ Here we are in an imagined future. Centuries have passed since “Welcoming the Newcomers.” Terrible things have happened to the planet. The only remaining bit of solid earth is an island guarded by armed white nationalists and soon to be submerged by a churning oil-slicked sea.

Indigenous people now command an open boat, of a kind familiar from contemporary news photos of refugees. People rescued in the first painting are now rescuers themselves, pulling in and tending to whoever swims toward them, including a white businessman wearing a chunky gold watch and Hermès tie. All of the boat’s rowers are Indigenous; more than half are women dressed in contemporary traditional styles…And once again Miss Chief presides over all, leads the way forward.

She’s modeled on the title figure in Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” one of the Met’s most popular American art attractions… Even in the Met’s two-story-high Great Hall, the two pictures read clearly, vividly, particularly “Resurgence of the People” with its more organic composition, toothsome colors, and skillfully managed use of painted light…If the museum intends to sustain this engagement, as seems likely under its current director, Max Hollein, commissioned projects like this one (and Ms. Mutu’s) are one way to go, leaving trophy displays of celebrity collectibles to art fairs.”

The Great Hall Commission: Kent Monkman, mistikosiwak (Wooden Boat People)

Through April 9 2020 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org.

Agate House at night-by Melany Sarafis

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM TALKING-FEATHER!

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Happy New Year Gif courtesy PicGifs.com.

Museum of Natural History Corrects Flawed Painting…Finally

“On the first floor of the American Museum of Natural History, a diorama depicts an imagined 17th-century meeting between Dutch settlers and the Lenape, an Indigenous tribe inhabiting New Amsterdam, now New York City. It was intended to show a diplomatic negotiation between the two groups, but the portrayal tells a different story.” A. Fota, The New York Times

This diorama at the American Museum of Natural History was amended in a way that allows museum goers to see the historical inaccuracies it perpetuates. Credit- A. Mohin, NYT

Excerpt: What’s Wrong With This Diorama? You Can Read All About It, Ana Fota, The New York Times

“The scene takes place in what is now known as the Battery, with ships on the horizon. The tribesmen wear loincloths, and their heads are adorned with feathers. A few Lenape women can be seen in the background, undressed to the waist, in skirts that brush the ground.

They keep their heads down, dutiful. In front of a windmill are two fully clothed Dutchmen, one of them resting a rifle on his shoulder. The other, Peter Stuyvesant, colonial governor of New Netherland, is graciously extending his hand, waiting to receive offerings brought by the Lenape.

Critics have said the diorama depicts cultural hierarchy, not a cultural exchange. Museum officials said they had been aware of these implications for a while, and now they have addressed them.

The narrative, created in 1939, is filled with historical inaccuracies and clichés of Native representation, said Bradley Pecore, a visual historian of Menominee and Stockbridge Munsee descent. ‘These stereotypes are problematic, and they’re still very powerful. They shape the American public’s understanding of Indigenous people.’

About a year ago, the museum asked Mr. Pecore to help solve the diorama problem…The solution offers a lesson in the changing nature of history itself. And it’s written on the glass. While the scene remains intact, 10 large labels now adorn the glass, summarizing various issues. They were carefully chosen after a research process that took most of 2018.

The largest one, visible from a distance, invites visitors to reconsider this scene.’

The labels say, for instance, that if the scene had been historically accurate, the Lenape would have been dressed for the occasion in fur robes and adornments that signified leadership positions.

The women did not wear impractical skirts that dragged behind them. Further, some are likely to have been part of the negotiations, as women in Lenape societies (past and present) typically hold leadership roles.

While only Stuyvesant was originally identified, the new labels also take note of Oratamin, a respected leader of the Hackensack, a Munsee branch of the Lenape. The list goes on, but it is not complete; there’s only so much room on the glass.”

~Our Thoughts and Prayers Go Out To The Muslim Community and To The People of New Zealand~ Talking Feather

The Center for Native American Youth is Accepting Art Submissions

“The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) is launching their first Creative Native Call for Art for Native youth 5 to 24-years-old. In addition, Native youth artists between 15 and 24-years-old can submit for an opportunity to be the cover artist for CNAY’s 2018 State of Native Youth Report.” V. Schilling, ICMN

CNAY : Gen-I

Excerpt: The Creative Native call for artwork By Vincent Schilling, ICTMN

“The Creative Native call for artwork is an initiative that supports young Indigenous artists ages 5 to 24-years-old and provides the opportunity to receive national recognition, funding for art supplies, and a $200 prize.

In addition to the overall submissions, there is an additional opportunity for Native youth artists between 15 and 24-years-old to be the cover artist for CNAY’s 2018 State of Native Youth Report. The cover artist will be flown to Washington, D.C. to participate in the reports release event in November.”

Art Submission and Eligibility Requirements

Art submissions must answer the question: What does Generation Indigenous mean to me? Submission photos and images will only be accepted electronically through the online Creative Native Entry Form. Submissions will be reviewed by an independent review committee, which will select one awardee from each age category: 5-9-year-olds; 10-14; 15-19; and 20-24.

Examples of submissions can include, but are not limited to paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures, and traditional works such as beadwork, carvings, and baskets. Artists can submit a maximum of three entries. Artists will need to submit separate forms for every entry.

Deadline and details

Artists may submit up to three (3) images of each artwork, displaying alternate angles and perspectives. Submissions are due at 11:59 pm Eastern Time on May 9th, 2018.

If you have any questions, you may contact del.curfman@aspeninstiute.org.