Last year the NEA received a record number of nominations of Native artists and awarded three Native artists out of 8 total.
March is “Women’s History Month” in the United States. At the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, we recognize and honor our women artists and culture bearers that have received fellowships since our inception seven years ago. While we acknowledge them during “Women’s History Month”, we actually cherish and hold them in high regard every month of the year. These remarkable women are always in our thoughts and hearts for their commitment to keeping the arts and cultural expression of Native peoples alive.
After eight years of creative visioning, planning and community engagement Postcommodity’s “Repellent Fence” (or Valla Repelente, in Spanish) goes airborne connecting the lands north and south of what is today the U.S./Mexico border. The installation, which launched October 10th, involved 26 scare-eye balloons tethered to the Sonoran Desert ground, that spanned a two-mile stretch and physically and metaphorically created a direct line of communication between communities and their many stakeholders. Repellent Fence is one of NACF’s Community Inspiration Program Pilot Projects.
A fusion of talent and energy came together in the sold-out world premiere of The Story of Everything (TSOE) in Honolulu, Hawai`i on September 26, 2015. Kealoha, an award winning spoken word poet and a graduate of MIT with a degree in nuclear physics, led the effort. The theatre, filled with a community of mothers and babies, students, and young adults to elders of all ethnicities and professions, represented the vast diversity of communities Kealoha desires to work among. The performance was the culmination of a lifetime’s work for Kealoha and one of the pilot projects of NACF’s Community Inspiration Program.
Yup’ik dancer and choreographer Emily Johnson galvanized four large urban centers in the country and her hometown of Homer, Alaska, with her multi-disciplinary project SHORE – one of NACF’s Community Inspiration Pilot projects. Story, volunteerism, performance and feasting engaged local communities who were willing to show up and be open to the possibilities.
I believe there is a benefit of arts and cultures that has not been written about nor studied enough in more intentional ways, although it has gained value in arts and philanthropic circles in the past few years. This is the value of arts and culture as a social change tool. The head of a social change organization and one of the national proponents of social change and the arts had this to say: “The single most powerful social change tool in the world is arts and creative expression. There is nothing that transcends barriers across language, economics, cultures, and place in a way that engages people and community like arts and cultures can. Nothing (emphasis) is that powerful.”
Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Announces its Distinguished 2015 National Artist Fellowship Awardees
In my lifetime, I have not seen this level of racial discrimination and hatred in our country since the 1960’s and early 1970’s. As a very young girl, too innocent to understand what was going on, but intuitive enough to know that something very wrong was happening, I remember seeing on national television these horrific images of police dogs and fire hoses turned on the demonstrators in Birmingham, the violence at the Pettus Bridge in Selma, and the burning neighborhoods of the Watts riots in Los Angeles. These images from Alabama and California flashed on TV screens across our nation and stayed with me for a long time.
Delina White, 2014 Regional Artist Fellow for the Upper Plains, is going to be busy this fall in five upcoming exhibitions throughout Minnesota. She’s presenting historical to contemporary women’s dress regalia through display and lectures along with meet-the-artist receptions; catch her event if you can. The event is called, “The Great Lakes Native Woodland Skirts” Project. “The project is giving me the opportunity to do what I have always wanted to do – to make beadwork and clothing that focuses on the historical significance of materials that I love and the beautiful way Native people used those materials to adorn themselves to create a culture identifiable as belonging to the woodlands of the Great Lakes region,” says Delina, member of Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.