Photo by Sam Gehrke Photography
Grantee:  Natalie Ball
Native Citizenship:  Black, Modoc and Klamath Tribes
Location:  Chiloquin, Oregon
Award:  2021 Oregon Native Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Visual Arts
Social Media:  Instagram, Website

Natalie Ball explores gesture and materiality to create textiles and sculptures as “Power Objects”. She offers objects as proposals of refusal to complicate an easily affirmed and consumed narrative and identity, without absolutes.

Ball’s work addresses racial narratives critical to the understanding of both the self and the nation, and necessarily, our shared experiences and histories. Her multilayered assemblages incorporate personal objects like one of her father’s moccasins and materials like porcupine hair and human wigs to forge works that function like characters, full of stories and inner lives. Ball redeploys and recontextualizes iconography typically associated with Native American cultures to propose different narratives of Indigenous life in the United States.

Ball says, “As an Indigenous woman, who is Black and Indian, I communicate my experiences within a larger history of intersectionality through materiality and gesture. I am interested in expanding what Native American identity and art are, and what it can be. My work always goes back to my ancestors, communities, family, our history and experiences.”

For her Oregon Native Artist Fellowship project, Ball will address the preservation of Klamath Lake, a body of water critical to her tribe’s, The Klamath Tribes, survival and where tensions run high with the area’s agricultural industry. Through her personal journey of connection to her homelands as a mother with her children, the project will build awareness of the endangered C’waam and Koptu (suckerfish) and the dying Klamath Lake invaded with toxic algae and manipulated water levels, which are historically the primary food sources for the Klamath people and whose imperilment points to a history of environmental racism and vexed relationships with settler communities. Ball will develop a body of work that includes Power Objects, large textiles, and a mobile mural series to be exhibited in the spring of 2022.

The goal is for my art to lend itself as new texts, with new histories, and new manifestations, to add to the discussion of complex racial narratives that are critical to further realizing the self, the nation, and necessarily, our shared experiences and histories.

—Natalie Ball (Black, Modoc and Klamath Tribes)

Thank you to our initiative partners!

The Native Arts and Cultures foundation is grateful to the Ford Family Foundation for their support of the Oregon Native Artist Fellowship program and the growth of creative practices by Indigenous visual artists of Oregon.

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