Grantee: Aurolyn Renee Stwyer
Native Citizenship: Celilo – Warm Springs/Wasco
Location: Warm Springs, Oregon
Award: 2018 Mentor Artist Fellowship
Discipline: Traditional Arts, Beadwork
Web Site: none
For more than 12,000 years, the Celilo people have lived along the Columbia River in Oregon, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the North American continent. Aurolyn Renee Stwyer is deeply knowledgeable of the cultural heritage of the Celilo community and works in several traditional art forms, such as beadwork, animal-derived textiles, visual arts, jewelry, and dance. She demonstrates great commitment to perpetuating these art forms and increasing awareness of how they are practiced in her culture today by: regularly leading classes, lecturing, donating her artwork, volunteering, and participating in community activities in Warm Springs. Stwyer is highly regarded as a business and community leader, tirelessly working to promote the arts and economic development of her people.
Stwyer is an expert in traditional Columbia Plateau-style beadwork, which was practiced by her ancestors and passed on in her family for generations. From design to color scheme, her beadwork demonstrates her commitment to sustaining her culture’s traditions. For her 2018 Mentor Artist Fellowship, she will teach her apprentice, Yvette Leecy (Warm Springs, Wasco, Cayuse, Colville), the intricacies of beading a complete set of traditional horse regalia, which is practiced by few artists and is becoming a less practiced art form throughout Indian country. The completed regalia will be displayed at public events and used to promote the artistic vitality of the Warm Springs community as well as educate the public about the Celilo culture’s deep appreciation for horses. From this, Leecy will gain a thorough understanding of traditional Plateau-style beadwork and how artists play a vital role in strengthening their community.
I am deeply committed to the arts and heritage of my people. We have depended on our families to teach art with the next generation. My horse regalia project lends itself to the on-going cultural tourism activities on the Warm Springs reservation.
~ Aurolyn Renee Stwyer