Native Art Now!


Native Art Now!

Native Art Now! is a documentary that examines the evolution of Native contemporary art over the last 25 years, presenting personal perspectives from internationally acclaimed Native contemporary artists. Produced in collaboration with the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

AIRED: December 14, 2017 | 0:57:00


such a complicated history that

most people don't understand at

all, because they think it's

>>JOHN HAWORTH: I look at this

sweep of this history, of this

quarter-century of history, and

how many advances have been made

in the field of Native American

>>JIM DENOMIE: I often speak

about social and political

history, and current issues, but


know what it means to be

American if they don't know what

contemporary Native Americans

experience, or what the Native

American history in this country

>>LILLIAN PITT: We've been here

for thousands of years, and we

have to know this and be proud

>>FRANCENE BLYTH: There's a lot

of great native work out there,

and people don't understand

either why is this native, or

>>JOE FEDDERSEN: I like my work

to celebrate community.

To celebrate important things

>>SHAN GOSHORN: My work is very

connected to the history of

Cherokee people, but it serves

as a springboard to show the


living in a different time, we

have different stories.

Sometimes as a native artist, we

feel like we're kind of in a

cultural corral, which really

just ... You're not allowed to

step outside of that, because


gonna define what tradition is.

Do I define what tradition is?

Do you define what tradition is?

I think we're building on

traditions every day.

Tradition is not a place in

>>HOLLY WILSON: 25 years ago, if

you claimed I'm a Native

American artist, you were put

into this little box and you

were put on a shelf, and that's

where you stayed, and you were

not mainstream.

But to me, I'm an artist, but

>>ANNOUNCER: Native Art Now is

made possible through a grant

from Lilly Endowment


an Indianapolis-based foundation

supporting the causes of

community development,

The endowment maintains a

special commitment to its

hometown and home state of

Additional funding is provided

by the Efroymson Family Fund,

David Jacobs and the David H.

and Barbara M. Jacobs

>>NARRATOR: Our history is


From the period of colonization,

the relentless acquisition of

native land, resources,

relocation, and assimilation to

the end of the 20th century when

laws addressed repatriation,

language, and culture, Native

Americans have endured with

Today, we thrive with boundless

voices of creative energy and


Native Art Now is a journey

through the last 25 years of

contemporary Native art, peering

into personal stories, and

examining that creative

expression and the powerful

>>JEFFREY GIBSON: The subject of

Native people, it's like the big

black sheep.

It's like, how do you even begin

to address that?

It's kind of up to the artist.

I think the artists are really

powerful people to do it,

because we get to write our own

script and we don't get paid

according to our performance.

So, we can kind of do whatever


there's just so much unknown

What's really significant is we

have artists who really shifted

the way contemporary Native art


Not only view, but the way it

was painted.

So Fred Scholder and TC Cannon

are really recognized for that


It was a time when they were

challenging each other, working

with each other, and they were

criticized because people want

to see the romanticized Indian.


unprecedented in art history.

The jump from tribal to


In Europe, it took us centuries.

Here, it happened within three

generations, maybe.

I did not just collect what I


I had a strategy.

I looked for a representative

group of artists that would

exemplify what Native American

is, in its diversity and in its

>>KAY WALKINGSTICK: A lot of our

artists have been people doing

art about their condition, or

what they saw in their culture,

like Allan Houser, or people

who, like George Morrison, was a

modernist, and abstractionist.

John Jaune Quick-To-Smith,

Truman Lowe, myself, Pete

Jennison, George Longfish, these

were all people who were working

in the '70s and '80s at making

So, I think that we have tried

to contribute something to the

overall field.

The other thing we've tried to

do is open up the mainstream to

>>RICK BARTOW: And you can't

stop us.

We'll be on the street with


We'll be on the street with


We'll be telling our stories in

ways that the people are going

>>NARRATOR: Contemporary Native

artists struggled, however, for

recognition and acceptance into

the mainstream.

While major museums organized

numerous art shows of both

historic and contemporary Native

art, only a few added

substantial work their

The Native art scene would

change with the sweep of federal

reforms, including the American

Indian Arts and Craft Act and

the Native American Graves

Through another act of Congress,

in 1989, the National Museum of

the American Indian was

established as a part of the

Smithsonian Institution, opening

its doors in 2004 on the

The challenge continued to shift

collective consciousness away

from anthropological and

romanticized views of indigenous

>>JOHN HAWORTH: Basically, at

the heart and soul of the

museum, it was to give privilege

to the perspective and the voice

of the insider view from the

community perspective, more


I remember there were, in the

early stages, we were looking at

some very important central

points of, well what did we want

to communicate to the visitor?

And one of the messages was, we

are still here.

And then, here comes along all

>>TRUMAN LOWE: It was time to

introduce a Native American in

their own facilities, and to

display the work that they felt

was important to introduce us to

the world.

>>JOHN HAWORTH: I think artists

are the best in the world to

They really help us understand

what's really going on in our

culture, and the deeper meanings

of our lives.

>>NARRATOR: Native contemporary

artists are always driven to new

realms of discovery and


Their work is deeply personal,

expressing in-depth perspectives

of identity, sense of place, and

They bring social issues to

light, and they are fearless

when exploring traditional

mediums alongside new techniques

>>LILLIAN PITT: My dad and

mother were both boarding school

kids, and they couldn't speak

their language, and had to cut

their hair and all that, and so,

we grew up not speaking our

And, it was so we could blend in

better, so we never learned our

language, we never learned where

we came from, and when I found

out that we had come from the

Gorge and had lived there for

12,000 years, I had to come home

>>DUANE SLICK: I think, up until

the point when I would turn 30,

And then, after 30, I was

thinking about something my

mother had told me.

Was that, in the Ho-Chunk

nation, you're not considered an

adult until you're 30.

But, once you turn 30, then

you're responsible for

everything you say or do.

And, the Ho-Chunks sort of

implied that, at some point, you

have to take kind of a proactive

stance in what I would call

cultural stewardship.

And so, it seemed like the work

>>BRENDA MALLORY: The Cherokees

don't really have a reservation.

They do have an area in

Northeastern Oklahoma, but our

lands were allotted in the 19th


So, we don't have a land, and

we're also a very assimilated


We moved out from the Southeast

in 1838 in the Trail of Tears.

I feel like there's been a big

disruption in my affiliation

with the culture.

It's these sorts of ways where

we have been dictated by the US

government, basically, what is

your identity.

I feel like I've addressed, in

my work, issues that are sort of

more universal than perhaps

Native-centric or

>>WENDY RED STAR: I started to

take Native American studies

classes, and from that, became

very interested in learning the

history of my own culture.

My work is so specific to being

a Crow person, but I also want

to make sure that people realize

that it's my own individual

experience, and that I'm not

speaking for the entirety of the

Crow notion, or for the entirety

of Native people at all.

So, I want to leave that open,

and by having that open, I think

other people can be invited in,

not just Native people.

And part of it, I think, is

because I studied contemporary

art and conceptual art.

The things that I am producing

fall kind of more in line with

what it is that I'm seeing, or

things that I'm intrigued by

that are within the mainstream

>>JIM DENOMIE: My parents moved

to Chicago as part of the

relocation program.

It was an effort to move Native

people off of reservations so

they could do away with


They split up after about a


My mother moved me to South

Minneapolis with my brothers,

where other relatives had moved

and other Native people.

I was still connected to my

reservation, but I grew up South

Minneapolis, went to public

school system, and did not

really learn a lot about my

heritage as an Ojibwe native.

And so, my art reflects my

>>HOLLY WILSON: I have a hard

time because I'm Native


I'm also white.

But at the same time, I have

been told, well you're white


You're not Indian enough.

So, it's that whole idea of...

Here, we were worried about this

greater judgment from one race

to the other, but within the

cosmos of your own race, we tear

each other apart.

And it's a hard thing to see

when you're like, well, you

don't look Indian.

You know, you don't have the


You're not making art that's

Indian enough.

We want people to stop judging

us on this larger scale, but we

have to stop doing it to one

another to make a difference on

>>MERYL McMASTER: So, all my

work kind of has been inspired

by these really profound moments

in my life when I was younger,

and I got to go on these

month-long camping excursions in

remote natural landscapes in


And so, this was a really

important moment in my life.

I started to see myself, in a

sense, more clearly, without the

distractions of the modern


So, a lot of my work really

explores the questions of, what

is self?

And how is self constructed?

And, I look at that through

lineage, and history, and

>>CHARLES FROELICK: I feel like,

in the last 20 years, there's

been a broader discussion, a

broader interest, in ...

What makes people tick?

It is more than just, are they

male or female?

Are they old or young?

Did they go to school?

It's no longer where did you go

to college, but it's tell me

your story.

And, artists are assertive in

telling their authentic story of

what's important to them.

So, the audiences are having to

come along, and the artists

aren't gonna make excellent art

just to satisfy an audience.

They're gonna make what's true


very strong views about what

painting is.

What art is.

Art is a visual language.

It doesn't really need words.

It doesn't need to be explained.

It needs to be seen, and thought


Art is the visual history of


So, when you look at art, you

can see an era.

You understand the people of

that era.

You'll get the history of

I'm a landscape painter.

I like to think of myself in the

tradition of great American

landscape painters.

But, I have a slightly different


I think of the American

landscape as American Indian


As this is our place, our land.

We share it, but it is our


So, this is one of the big

things that I'm concentrating


I think it's important that we

see ourselves as a group, but

also see ourselves as American


We are part of a tradition of

American art.

And, we belong in the museums of

>>MARIE WATT: I trained as a

painter and printmaker, and have

continued my education more as a

I'm really invested in using

blankets that I scavenge for.

They typically are wool, and

they are primary source material

I quickly realized that blankets

were storied objects that

connect us.

And, I really love how blankets

resonate with a lot of

experiences, and a lot of

different cultural perspectives.

And so, it ties to a piece that

I'm working on right now, which

looks at animals as our first


Dogs are the perfect kind of

animal relationship, perhaps, in

our lives to kind of talk about

how we're related.

Because they're often our pets,

but also ... I started looking

back into history and myths, and

really thinking about the story

of Remus and Romulus, and how

the she-wolf suckles these two

twins back to life.

For me, I was thinking about it

as a relationship for how...

Our symbiotic relationship with

animals in the natural

environment, and how we need to

I think of wool blankets as this

kind of living material.

It's not square.

They're very gestural.

They take on the bodies that

inhabit them.

As an artist, I'm working to

understand questions that I

don't know the answers to.

So, I feel like there's still a

big part of the conversation

that's going to happen that I


the thing of course, where we

distinguish ... Modernism is

still a depiction of something,

and it expresses itself in

different styles, be it Naïve,

be it Cubism, be it Expressive,

be it whatever styles they are.

But then, there came the

conceptual art.

The idea is the creator, and the

form follows.

And that's very confusing for

some people, they do not

understand what this art is all


There is a clear distinction

between modernism, where you

express something, and

conceptual art, where you have

an idea and give it form in

whatever you wish to give it


And Marie Watt is working with

blankets, but behind that is

always intellectual concept, and


have this kind of weird feeling

about the word tradition, 'cause

I think that we're building on

traditions every day, and I

don't think that anything is the

one traditional art form that

as time goes, that cultures

evolve, and grow, and adapt new

techniques and materials and


But, I'm really interested in

customary and historical

knowledge and materials, 'cause

there's nothing better than

something like walrus stomach.

It's the most beautiful material

in the world.

So, a lot of times, I'll take a

natural material and I'll take a

synthetic material and I'll

combine those elements together.

Or sometimes, I'll just use the

synthetic skin and emulate real

skin or gut.

So, it's usually a hybrid.

Occasionally, it'll be just one

or the other.

Or I'll even juxtapose them next

to each other, and have this

kind of feel of what's real and

>>SHAN GOSHORN: I do a lot of

research in museums, and in

galleries, and visiting

different tribal people.

Researching specific things

about tribes, but often about

very generalized things about

removal acts, or boarding

schools, or repatriation.

And, I incorporate these

documents by reproducing them on

Archie's watercolor paper,

painting the paper, adding

washes to it, adding copper foil

to it, cutting them into

splints, and weaving them into

baskets with the intention of

showing how these historical

documents still play an

important part in Indian

politics today.

Previously with my work, I was

showing images on the wall in

galleries, and they were, maybe

hostile, maybe angry, maybe


But, with baskets, there's

something so different about

them, because of their shape or

their color, that people are

literally leaning in to see.

They're leaning in to become

engaged with the dialogue.

They want to see, how is this


Does she paint on the basket?

Oh my God.

No, these splints are woven, and

the image is matching up.

So, that curiosity inspires the

questions to ask more about the

>>BRENDA MALLORY: I had had a

business for many years, which

produced a lot of offcuts of


I began to make art with them,

combining it with wax, and found

it to just be an amazing,

malleable material that I was

able to do a lot of the same

sorts of work I had done with


And I work a lot with nuts and


For me, it's a form of sewing.

A way to hold things together

with something that's not

traditional, like a needle and

thread, but I'm doing it with

nuts and bolts.

I love the crudeness of the nuts

and bolts.

And I like that you can see this

thing is held together in very

tenuous ways, like it could come


It might fall apart.

And I'm sort of okay with that.

I like to bring attention to


the materials that we use are


I mean, in Alaska, the big cedar

trees that we use for dug-out

canoes and totem poles, they're

harder and harder to come by.

And so, you're gonna see the

indigenous art is gonna be

navigating into new materials

just to keep the symbols and the

stories alive.

And so, I think that glass is

just one.

It's a unique material.

It has this kind of ethereal

quality to it, you know, when

the light hits it just so, and

it glows, and it's almost like

there's an inner spirit in the

piece that, when the light hits

it, then it just really shines.

And, as an indigenous artist, I

like the idea that it's kind of

a transformational medium.

For one thing, glass starts as

a liquid.

It's molten, and then it's

transforming into a solid.

So, you have to learn this

process of manipulating the

shape, and it's a technology

that wasn't really accessible to

most people prior to 50 years

>>SKAWENNATI: The biggest reason

why I have chosen the internet

as kind of a medium is because I

believe that it can reach more


Not only that, but I also think

that it can reach them in places

that are very different from a


It can reach them in their

homes, in these more intimate


We're using Second Life, which

is a very popular online virtual


I felt that it was a very

futuristic medium, and at the

moment, my work is about Native

people in the future, and I felt

it was really fitting.

And I now think of Second Life

as a medium, as well.

And, it's got its own

limitations, just like paint.

It has its own limitations.

And you work with those

limitations, and you learn to

love them.

Hate them a bit.

What I'm really hoping to do is

to offer a new perspective on

historical events that they may

know about, but that they've

>>WILL WILSON: I think I got my

And, it became a vehicle for

language, for storytelling.

There are seven images in the

Auto Immune Response series.

They start off with this person,

the Auto Immune character,

witnessing a nuclear explosion.

An apocalypse.

And, through the course of the

series of images, the narrative

kind of follows him, and he's

figuring out how to respond to

the environment.

I think it's really important to

start working, and to use your

hands, or whatever.

Use the computer if that's what

you're doing.

But, in the process of creation,

that's when things really start

to happen, I think.

That's why the arts are so


I think people get to express

experience in other ways, that

open up new parts of our brains

and our souls, and allow us to

be human, and I try and share

And try and encourage that with

>>JAMES LAVADOUR: I didn't know

anything about painting, so I

started off by taking

watercolor, and maybe food

color, and mixing it in pots,

and just throwing it on a piece

of paper and swirling it around.

I started using better-grade

pigments, because I could see

that the minerals in the

pigments would separate.

And, as I swirled it around,

it'd create patterns.

I began to discover more things

about color, and about pattern,

about flow, and energy, and all

those things.

And, I would incorporate those

things in layers in what I'm


Every layer of paint, boom,

boom, boom, boom.

It does something unique.

And there's a memory of that

event that is ... I think of

painting as an event.

It's not really a


These are processes, organic

processes of cosmic processes.

And, when I begin to layer them,

I begin to see time and space.

I begin to understand that

making a painting was almost

like extracting something or

gathering something from the

land itself.

Something mysterious and good.

But, I thought of it as a kind

of medicine.

Growing up here on the

reservation, hiking all these

hills and mountains around here,

that was my passion.

If I wasn't painting, I was


It's been a calling.

I guess that's all you could


And it's taken me a lifetime to

really understand it.

It's really been sort of the

thing in life that has sustained

me, number one.

>>HOLLY WILSON: I call myself a


Most of my work is

three-dimensional bronze cast.

And, for me, each piece I make

is a one-of-a-kind, because it's

its own story.

I wouldn't want that story to be

reproduced if it were me, so my

work is all very unique and

For me, it's about having your

hands in the work.

It's about being able to touch

my heart, my biggest love, is to

be ... wax under your

fingernails, and clay, and a

little bit of paint here or

there, but to feel the material,

and feel you bringing something

from nothing.

It's that idea of you're telling

stories through things that

don't exist.

It's all about bringing things

up out of the earth, and using

your hands to make it.

And I still love that tactile

feel of being able to make a


So, what I love about working

with my scale is, I can make one

tiny beautiful thing that you

can hold in your hand, or that

you could have in a nook of a

corner, or I could take that

same figure and I could make 75

of them.

And, I love that idea of scale,

but through intimacy.

It's a weird thing to try and

describe, the need to make art.

And it's not like, well, it's

nice that the studio makes

something pretty, 'cause some of

the stuff I make isn't pretty.

And some of it isn't all happy

and shiny.

But, it's that need to put your

hands on something, and to

create an image of what you've

seen or how you feel, in that


And to me, they're messages.

They're stories that I'm passing

and putting out into the world.

They're messages about how I

I don't think it falls on deaf

Everyone thinks, well, I'm doing

this and no one's listening, and

no one's gonna ever hear me.

>>NARRATOR: Over time, Native

artists began to address a

broader community with new

histories and stories to tell

through prominent group and solo

Educational programs began to

grow and flourish.

Much-needed artist and

curatorial residencies and

fellowships developed.

Institutions across the country

made contributions to

scholarship in the field, as

well as provided financial

The Denver Art Museum, the

Eiteljorg Museum, the Heard

Museum, the Institute of

American Indian Arts, the Native

Arts and Culture Foundation, the

Smithsonian Institution, and the

just a few, have all provided

critical resources to emerging

artists and established


exhibitions that I feel have

been most impactful for

contemporary Native American

artists have been the shows that

go to non-Native museums.

The solo shows that have

catalogs, so it can be a studied

examination of an artist's work,

and people really get the

opportunity to understand their

motivations and their evolution,


There are group shows that I

will always credit with laying a


Native Streams and Shared


The Changing Hands exhibits, and

the Submuloc show.

Some of those early shows that

toured the world, and just

started showing that Native

cultures are alive and well, and

growing, and evolving, and


really those large group shows

that were influential.

Later, we started moving past

It needs to not be just a group

of ... The unifying factor being

that everyone's Native American,

and being represented by one or

two pieces.

We needed to move past that and

to do more comprehensive shows,

that were smaller shows with

larger bodies of work, and solo

shows that could really impact

the artist and take them to the

>>FRANCENE BLYTH: The challenges

of contemporary native arts is,

I think, probably primarily a

lot of times is resources,

whether that's financial,

whether that's collaborative,

because you meet people, by

whatever means, and then ... But

you live maybe across the

country, and how do you

brainstorm and work together on

I think also, challenges are...

Once you get the work done,

another big challenge still is,

is getting recognition.

Getting exposure.

Getting people to see it.

Educating people about your

work, and getting them to

>>SHAN GOSHORN: I've received

the Eiteljorg fellowship in


The Smithsonian Artist Research

Fellowship, Native Arts and

Cultural Fellowship, a Swaia.

And last year, I received the

United States Artist Fellowship.

And these fellowships come with

a purse award, which is not the

most important.

The most important is I'm

receiving recognition from these

very prominent organizations

that have become trailblazers

and have really set the path for

Native artists to be recognized

as contemporary mainstream


But the purse, the money that I

have received, has helped enable

me to continue to research.

Has helped me to be able to

continue traveling.

Has afforded me studio time,

precious studio time, so I can

stay home and I can work through

>>JOE FEDDERSEN: When I got the

Eiteljorg, it gave me a freedom

to do other things that I'd

really never known that I was

being blocked from doing.

And I was offered the show at

the Heye Center for Continuum,

so I made a print that was

twelve feet high by 65 feet


And that cost a lot of money.

And the Eiteljorg money funded


Mitchell Fellowship has been a

really excellent fellowship, and

the reason why I think it's so

excellent is that they really

provide support.

They really kind of helped with

the business aspect of art, and

managing that.

And that's something that I

think is really, really


It's great to get the funding,

but it's nice to get help on how

>>FRANK JANZEN: So, that's the

blue plate.

Kind of a wild-and-crazy print

I'll tell you, but it's gonna be

>>NARRATOR: Critical resources

also came from important local

and regional schools and

James Lavadour knew firsthand

that, in order for native

artists to take the next step in

their careers, they needed

resources, technology, and


So, in 1992, he started Crow's

Shadow Institute of the Arts.

Today, Crow's Shadow continues

to provide social, economic, and

educational opportunities to

Native artists through artistic

development, and has grown in

both stature and vision to

become a significant national

>>KARL DAVIS: Crow's Shadow has

been building a reputation for a

really long time within the

Native American contemporary art

scene, and also print scene,


Our artist-in-residency program,

I think, is the very center of

our programming.

We bring in three to six artists

a year from the region and

outside of the region.

They work with Frank Janzen, our

master printer, for two weeks at

a time.

Produce a series of additions or


And then, we publish the work

that is able to go into our

program collection.

We have an archive at the Hallie

Ford Museum of Art that holds

our prints.

And then, we are able to sell

and exhibit the work that comes

>>FRANK JANZEN: I'm a Tamarind

master printer, that means I

trained at the Tamarind

Institute in Albuquerque, New

Mexico, which is the only place

in the world that teaches

lithography in the old

traditional method on stone or

aluminum plate.

And they only teach

collaborative printmakers.

We primarily lithography, but we

can do wood cuts, linocuts,

monetize, monoprints.

Some etching.

It's always exciting.

If I'm getting a new artist

come, I'll check them out

online, see what kind of work

they do, so it'll give me an

idea of what they might need,

what they might want.

Some of the artists I've had

great collaborations with.

Well, Truman Lowe, Joe

Feddersen, definitely.

Kay Walkingstick, Rick Bartow.

It's always interesting when

artists come here for the first

time, they don't know what to


invited to Crow's Shadow, I was

really excited, because I love


But I was also very intimidated,

because I know nothing about

photo lithography, and I mean

>>FRANK JANZEN: But it was

interesting, because she's

sculptural, trying to translate

what she was doing onto a print,

from a 3D object to a 2D object.

It's pretty interesting.

>>BRENDA MALLORY: Man, Frank was

so receptive and helpful to...

He just takes your ideas and

helps you figure out how to turn


collaborative printmaker, not to

impose your thoughts on them,

unless you're asked.

They're the ones make the


I just facilitate it, that's all

>>MARIE WATT: Every experience I

had, and continue to have, as an

to Crow's Shadow as being linked

up to that experiment.

>>JIM DENOMIE: I think they're

doing great things.

Bringing in artists from all

over the country, and Canada,


And then, they have community


They're shaping part of

>>WENDY RED STAR: The different

institutions that my prints have

Museum of the American Indian,

has been really, really


>>KARL DAVIS: We hope to preach

to the world about what we do,

about what printmaking can do

for people, and the kind of

benefits that the artist can see

from it.

And that, getting to own prints

is an accessible manner of


One of our visions for Crow's

Shadow is that we believe that

magic happens when we bring

creative people together.

And when people come here and

see that, then it really starts


So, I always equated that as,

like, something for nothing.

You have all the dollar bills up


So, heck of a deal, huh?

You put in a quarter and you get

a dollar bill out.

But, of course, that's not how

>>NARRATOR: Humor plays a vital

role in native culture and

contemporary art.

In the midst of serious issues,

humor brings us closer together,

diffuses tension, and can even

energize us with its playful


Native humor is renewing,

empowering, and a survival

>>JIM DENOMIE: Well, my

narrative work, I often speak

about social and political

But, some of them are very

painful, and hard subject

matter, and so I try to diffuse

that tension with color and


But often, the underlying story

It's easier to swallow a taste

of a bad-tasting pill with sugar

than it is raw, so I try to add

sugar to some of these stories.

This is a sketch I made last

fall in response to the videos

and posts that I was seeing on

Facebook about the Standing Rock

protesting, and how the

protestors were being


And so, it really affected me


And so, I made this sketch from

my memory of what I had seen


In real life, this happened on a

bridge, where they had blocked

this bridge so the protestors

didn't have access to the oil

pipeline area, or their camp,

and so they were forced to

travel many miles to go around.

And so, the sketch is just a

starting point, and then the

painting itself is ... it's

another journey.

Healing doesn't happen until

there's acknowledgement and


>>LUZENE HILL: All of my work,

the work that I do, concerned

with the Cherokee syllabary and

endangered languages.

And, the drawings that are

concerned with vulnerability.

And my installations are all

about having a voice.

I was attacked in 1994.

That informed my piece, because

I am diminishing slowly the

trace of violence on the floor.

I am removing it, it will be

gone, and there will be a

reckoning voice around the

walls, in the form of the cords.

The gallery is a metaphor for my


And the Quipo is a voice that

has been silenced.

They are a language, and they

are counting.

Each cord is different, and they

represent the number of women

who do not report an assault

within a 24-hour period, only in

the United States.

And, each woman is specific, and

different, and is an individual

that should be considered and


And, I want to provoke a

conversation, and the

installation process allows me

to do that, because the visitor

is in the work.

It also puts that person into

the issue.

They're able to see, okay, this

is being said.

This is being talked about.


real creativity, is progress.

The idea of creating dialogue

It's important.

We've had no voice for a while

in our community, to the world.

It's through a creative voice,

it's empowering our story and

>>SKAWENNATI: I felt there

weren't enough images of us in

I'm very concerned that young

people, and actually not just

young people, but aboriginal

people in general, feel that

everything great about us

already happened.

There are so many images of us

in the past.

And, we're there silent, we're


I wanted to have images of us in

the future, and I wanted us to

be talking, and saying what we


What I really want to see for

us, for aboriginal people, is us

as a very important segment of

society, contributing to

society, this society that we

live in now with all its

>>LAWRENCE PAUL Y: I am kind of

a history painter, and sometimes

it's a very nasty world.

And, I think I capture the

events, things that happen, in a

true form.

And, if they're disturbing and

upsetting, at least you can

enjoy it in a nice color tone.

I would say that global warming

is on its way, and if you don't

get the one percent under

control, if you don't make rules

for them, they will screw it up.

The legacy they're leaving this

planet is gonna be really sad.

It's not a pretty picture.

But, I will make you feel what

it feels like.

And if it is disturbing and

upsetting, and if it makes


Americans are put into a box.

We all are.

telling you who you are, I

think, is really kind of an

interesting idea.

So, I'm making a commentary also

on the way that we see things,

the way that we ourselves are

perceived, and the way that we

>>TRUMAN LOWE: I began making

waterfalls, I began making

sculpture that was large enough

to be able to convey the notion

Just moving down the stream.

And, that led me to begin to

even study water, and study


Study lakes.

Because, you focus on that as a

way of understanding your

environment, your art


We're made of water, as I said.

We consume water.

We pollute water.

And, we have to, as humans,

begin to work with our

environment in order to be able

to survive it.

And that's partially what I'm

trying to do.

I'm just trying to make us aware

of where we live.

>>BONNIE DEVINE: In 2009, there

was an incident in Manitoba.

There was an outbreak of H1N1


So, the chiefs of a number of

those First Nations wrote to the

Department of Health in Ottawa

requesting special help.

Please send medicine, please

send doctors.

The children and the old people

are dying.

Health Canada responded by

sending shipments of body bags

Of course, the government

apologized and said it was all a


But, our people have faced many

things like this, and it's never

a mistake.

And, I wanted to respond to


So, I ordered 62 body bags.

There are 62 First Nations in

Manitoba, and I ordered one bag

for each of those First Nations.

>>GERALD CLARKE: I had a dream.

So, in this dream, I'm talking

to someone, and it's a male


But I never see them.

And I'm assuming it's kind of my

idea of what God might be.

And I'm ranting and I'm raving

about all these different world

religions, and how they don't

care about each other, and

they're killing each other.

And so, every time I mention a

different religion, I make a

scribbly mark, and just making

chaos basically on this piece of


When I finished, the voice tells

me, but what you have to

understand is that everything

you've drawn here makes up the

realm of humankind.

And when they said that, the

lines became like wrinkles in a


So, it was like I was looking at

this white piece of cloth that

was, the lines raised up and

became wrinkled.

And the voice tells me, the

thing that you need to

understand is that all this

together makes up the realm of

And when the voice said that, it

was like someone pulled the

edges of the cloth straight out

and everything went smooth


And so, the next morning, I

woke up and I wasn't sad or

depressed anymore.

And so, how do you boil that

down into an artwork?

Well, the cloth and the wrinkles

seemed like it was key.

And then, the more I worked with

it, and I thought about the

ironing, and then I started

thinking about the ironing board

as an altar.

And it just kind of took off,

the saying ironing out the

wrinkles, and the differences.

My thing is responsibility.

I felt it was my responsibility

to share it with the public.

It'd be very good if this work


the nature of being an artist is

about taking risks.

And is about opening us up to

other possibilities.

I think there is something

inherently risk-taking about

being a Native person, and

particularly a Native artist in

this country.

Because the dominant narrative

of the country is one that we're


And our voices, and our

community are what we need to

anchor ourselves in in order to

be fearless.

People are driven by story.

People are inspired, they

empathize, they understand

through what artists do.

And artists tell stories, they

share visions, and one of the

things that artists have an

amazing ability to do is, they

also have the power show us the

world as we want it to be, and

to model that, and to inspire us

to think of the world in a

>>DUANE SLICK: When I paint, or

talk about coyote, or tell a

coyote story, what I'm talking

about is somebody who, in some

way, is a survivor.

I respect the coyote as a

creator, as a myth-maker, and as


trickster figure represents to

Indian people what it means to

Because the coyote has greed,

and gluttony, and he plays

tricks, and he does a lot of

foolish things.

But on the other hand, he's also

a creator, and he creates the

world, and he makes things


I really like that aspect of

that character, that he's

neither good nor evil.

He's in between, and to me,

that's what it means to be


to be the first one to make a

glass totem pole, so there you


There's the 2,000 pounds of


This is a story about my great

and she had a pet grizzly bear

as a child.

So, you can see on the top

figure is the little grizzly

bear cub.

And then, my great grandmother

sitting on a box with the killer

whale crest, and the eagle

moiety depicted on

>>FRANCENE BLYTH: I think in

Native contemporary arts, we're

gonna just be seeing this

continue growth and examination

of who we are as Native people.

Where we come from, and what

we're tied to in the past, and

how that is either carried

forward or we examine its

meaning in today's contemporary

modern times.

And then, incorporate the

influence of whatever we have

accessible to us in modern times


the most exciting and important

thing that's going on with

contemporary art today is what

the kids are doing.

They're not afraid of art.

They're not afraid of the


They're not afraid of


They just do it.

>>BONNIE DEVINE: The ability to

transcend the media and to

create something that has a life

in a different world ... I think

Native people understand this

right away.

They understand that the

dimensionality of this physical

space is not sufficient to tell

the stories we want to tell.

It's not broad enough.

It's not effervescent enough.

Digital media helps us to break

into that kind of other world,

and tell stories there that are


Inspiration kind of comes from

everywhere, right?

But then, to develop that takes

a lot of research, and figuring

out where ... where that voice

is coming from, and how it'll

bring that out to the world.

You really have to want to know,

want to learn, and really expand

your own understanding of the

>>MERYL McMASTER: Photography, I

guess, is the final product of

what I've been producing.

And performance is an element

that is part of what I'm

creating, along with the

sculptural and the prop elements

that I use.

it a performance piece, but it's

an element that I do use to get

to the final idea.

The idea kind of happens in my


I start building in my home, but

then, it kind of gets taken

somewhere else for the actual

production of the photograph.

And that inspiration of going

outside and not photographing

indoors has come from

inspirations that I've had when

I was younger, and this

connection that I have with


When I was in the solo

experiences, it was a lot of


Actually not really knowing who

I was.

So, it was really eye-opening,

and I felt like I had a lot to


Coming from mixed backgrounds of

having European heritage, how do

I fit in between these kind of

opposing histories, and where do

I sit between those?

I've created this raven figure

that holds many meanings in

aboriginal and European stories

and history, and a lot of it is,

to me, I'm kind of referencing

that messenger story behind the


And that's really how I feel

about my self-exploration, is

that you have to go out into the

unknown to grow and to learn


artist does have to know what

they want from the art world.

Do you really want the


I think it's important that a

young artist learn to talk about

their art.

You have to be able to,

yourself, articulate a bit about

what it is you're doing with

your art.

I think it's important to show.

I think it's difficult to show.

And sometimes, it's very

painful, because you might as

>>NARRATOR: What contemporary

Native artists have accomplished

has taken us to a new place in

our history and in this world.

A place of new perspectives, new

understanding of the stories

that are being told, who is

telling them, and why.

Contemporary Native art is

decisively ingenious and bold.

Our creative voice is strong,

and is being heard globally.

No doubt, the next generation

will continue to amaze us.

We will expand on what has been

done, and invent new techniques

and technologies beyond the

realm of what we can imagine

>>MARIO MARTINEZ: The art is a

jealous lover.

It won't let you go.


something different to everyone,

and it can be a wild explosion,

But it's beautiful, because it

makes me feel, and it makes me


>>JOHN HAWORTH: Artist, whether

they're a visual artist, or

media-based artist, or

performance artist, or

installation artist, they're

dealing with a vocabulary of

expression that's very powerful

>>TRUMAN LOWE: My interest is

the trying to find that

who's doing something that's

different than any other Native

artist, but saying it in their

own way.


important thing is, Native

artists really just want to be

seen and heard with their work.


hope that my work could

but at the same time, it's the

thing that gives it the power.



What needs to happen is a mind

>>JAMES LAVADOUR: The indigenous

world needs to be interjected

into the mainstream world in

some significant way.

>>WENDY RED STAR: I want people

to recognize that Native people

are human beings, and our

history is everybody's history.

>>ANNOUNCER: Native Art Now is

made possible through a grant

from Lilly Endowment


an Indianapolis-based foundation

supporting the causes of

community development,

The endowment maintains a

special commitment to its

hometown and home state of

Additional funding is provided

by the Efroymson Family Fund,

David Jacobs and the David H.

and Barbara M. Jacobs


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