All My Relations Gallery
|Norman Akers, Distant Calling|
expands its reach with its latest exhibition, marking the start of its new guest curatorial series. Tony Tiger, director of art and assistant professor of art at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, has curated a new show, called "Art from Indian Territory: Contemporary Native Art from Oklahoma," which features artists exploring Native identity and survival.
|Tarnished by Shan Goshorn|
Oklahoma is home to 39 federally recognized tribes, many of which relocated to the state after being forcibly displaced from other parts of the U.S. during a time when part of the state was known as "Indian Country."
The artwork reflects the ramifications of that past, illustrating the ways in which the artists grapple with historical trauma in contemporary society. The artists take on modern-day conflicts that derive from historical wrongs, such as how American Indian of today, especially those with mixed heritage, find their identity. A few of the pieces reference current conflicts going on within Cherokee and other tribes about how to determine who is an official member and who isn't.
One particularly powerful piece, Diluted by Shan Goshorn, is made of seven sheets of paper containing lists of
names. The left-most sheet is washed with a deep red, and the subsequent
papers have gradually more diluted red washes. Goshorn seems to be
making a statement about the U.S. practice of "blood quantums" (the
degree of Native ancestry a person has), which at first was used to
restrict the civil rights of American Indians, and later was employed as
a ways to distribute financial benefits or for sales of land involving
|Uncle David (Killed in Action Valentine's Day 1944) by Bobby C. Martin|
|I'm part white, but I can't prove it by Troy Jackson|
Goshorn has another piece in the show, titled Tarnished,
featuring a small basket made in the traditional Cherokee double-weave
style that incorporates shredded pieces of paper with words from a
government document. Though the title doesn't suggest what document has
been used (a broken treaty, perhaps?), the piece represents all of the
lies and shattered promises made to Native tribes by the United States.
Goshorn's use of traditional basket weaving enfolds, literally, the
actions of the government into Native history.
A sculpture by Troy Jackson, made of clay, copper bondo, and acrylic, portrays an American Indian figure, his body covered in symbols, on his knees and blindfolded. He holds up a clear white ball in one hand, and a red one by his thigh. There's a white cross hung from the pedastal. The title reads: "I'm part white, but I can't prove it." A rather enigmatic image, it suggests the struggle of people with both Native and white identities trying to figure out where they fit.
Bobby C. Martin provides a compelling piece based on a photograph using oils and collage called Uncle David (Killed in Action Valentine's Day 1944). The photograph depicts a smiling young Native man dressed in a sailor's uniform on a bright, sunny day. Like Goshorn's Diluted, the work is layered with a list of names, presumably the Dawes rolls, which were created in the late 19th century by the U.S. government to assign allotments for the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes. Numerous juxtapositions play out in the work, between the title's suggested untimely end for the young man and his hopeful expression. There's also the irony of a man fighting for the United States, which has historically been such a force in the destruction for Native culture.
|Diluted by Shan Goshorn|
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