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One of the most extraordinary attributes of art is its ability to inspire us to think in expanded ways, moving the public to act and challenge assumptions about Native identity and culture. This year, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) launched two new programs focused on transformative change and Indigenous arts as catalysts for social change. Our new programs SHIFT and LIFT will support artists and community-driven projects addressing social, environmental or cultural justice issues through a Native lens.

We need sustained support and recognition to ‘build scaffolds, not ladders.’ Instead of promoting one or two artists who rise to the top, what we need is a whole field, a crowded field, so that when asked, you can name at least five Native artists. This takes ongoing support from organizations, institutions, galleries, and communities to maintain consistent growth.

― RYAN! Feddersen, National Artist Fellow

As an example of the SHIFT and LIFT programming focus, I want to share an update from one of our National Artist Fellows. RYAN! Feddersen (Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation [Okanogan and Arrow Lakes]) is a mixed-media artist specializing in interactive and immersive art. Her work creates human interactions and provides opportunities to explore identity and cultural issues, reflecting societal experiences from a Native sustainability lens.

With a particular interest in public art, Feddersen acknowledges its importance, saying that “Native people don’t often see ourselves and our cultural values reflected in the national discourse.” In her recent work Antecedents, inspired by plateau origin stories, the pillars of life—animal, water, land and air—are represented by a bear, hawk feather, salmon and bitterroot, alongside a cradleboard symbolizing humanity and cultural expression. The stunning lightbox images illuminate the interconnectivity and vulnerability of the environment and shared ecosystems that support equitable health and vitality in human society.

RYAN! Feddersen, Antecedents, 2020.
Commissioned by the Washington State Arts Commission in partnership with the University of Washington. (Photography by Dennis Wise)

NACF aims to advance cultural knowledge and social change through art projects like Feddersen’s. We could not do this meaningful work without you. We rely on your generous support to ensure a vibrant future for Native artists and culture bearers. Your gift will support artists and community projects whose work can change the narrative of invisibility for future generations to come and open dialogue for social change. Will you consider making a gift today? 

Please click here to donate online, or you may call or text Leah Altman, Development Manager, at (503) 317-4861, to make a donation via phone or set up a recurring gift.

Once again, thank you for supporting NACF and the work of Native artists, cultural bearers and communities across the nation.

Mahalo,

T.Lulani Arquette (Native Hawaiian), President & CEO

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