The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) 2017 Mentor Artist Fellow apprentices culminated their 12-month program this past summer at a week-long residency led by Ka’ila Farrell-Smith and Signal Fire. The residency offered the first group of NACF apprentices the opportunity to connect with land, place and tribal culture at the Caldera Arts Center in the Eastern Oregon mountains. The Stardust: Indigenous Artist Retreat included a camping trip to explore the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs ancestral homelands, plus five days at Caldera focusing on their individual arts practices ranging from contemporary photography, quill and beadwork, fiber weaving, birch bark biting, canoe building, to carving.
The residency was designed to inspire and energize Native artists and culture-bearers by providing them with time to reflect and draw inspiration from the land. Shirod Younker (Coos-Coquille), a 2017 NACF Mentor Fellow, also joined the group at Caldera and led a model canoe carving workshop for the apprentice artists. The trip ended with a crab feast dinner with the artists, Signal Fire supporters, and NACF staff for a celebratory gathering.
Opportunities like these have a long-term impact on the life and work of an artist. Much like study abroad programs, residencies are often aimed at emerging artists. During the residency, the artists were able to explore new locations, different cultures, and experiment with different materials. The Stardust: Indigenous Artist Retreat emphasized the importance of meaningful and multi-layered cultural exchange, while affording ample time for the artists to focus on and investigate their own art practices. Providing the Mentor Fellow apprentices with this experience also exposed them to the possibility of applying for future opportunities to further their art careers.
The Stardust: Indigenous Artist Retreat was made possible through a partnership with Signal Fire and the NACF.